The 4 C’s of Successful Fundraising


The days when money rolled in for nonprofits just because they were charitable organizations are long gone. But that doesn’t mean your nonprofit or ministry has to suffer a lack of funding! But you will need these four critical components firmly in place: “The Four C’s of Fundraising Success.”

1. A Clear, Compelling Vision

Back in the day, nonprofit organizations could rely confidently on gifts coming in simply because they were a not-for-profit trying to do some good in the world. But that world no longer exists.

In the last twenty years, there’s been an explosion of nonprofits registered in the United States resulting in an environment of intense competition where many charities are doing basically the same thing as your nonprofit.

The arrival of the Information Age has also changed the landscape drastically. Now anyone can find all the other nonprofits out there that do almost exactly what you do with a quick online search.

Competition in #fundraising is fierce. You must have a clear, compelling #vision that sets you apart. Share on X

Competition for the charitable dollar has never been more fierce — which is why you must have a clear, compelling vision that sets you apart from the others. This is especially true when cultivating Gifts of Assets.

Vision and Asset-Based Giving

When you ask someone to give or liquidate one of their assets for your cause, you’re not asking them to give away their left-over cash. You’re asking them to take out a piece of their balance sheet, effectively a piece of their life and give it to you.

There must be a good reason — a compelling vision — for your donor to part with the wealth they’ve worked hard for.
How will the world be different? How will the community be different? What’s going to change if they give money or assets to you?

A Vision So Compelling

The pastor of a church in Detroit told me about how he took eight men from his church to Thailand in an effort to touch their hearts and raise support for a missionary there.

They did some ministry among the local churches there and even went out to tour the beauty of the city. Then they spent a day with the missionary unpacking for these men the horror of the daily life of a child trapped in sex trafficking.

The men heard the stories of twelve and fourteen-year-old girls and boys often introduced innocently into slavery by their parents and whose daily life existence was one sex predator after another.

This missionary wanted not only to rescue these children but to help them to heal. His vision was to build an orphanage and recovery center in the countryside where over time these kids could restore their dignity, learn a trade, and escape from the horror of their childhood.

The pastor shared with me what it was like to be there that day…

“Greg, when you get eight fathers sitting in a room hearing about this atrocity, it was like reaching right through their rib cage and yanking their heart out. They were pounding on the table with anger saying, ‘This isn’t right! We’ve got to do something.’”

The vision of this missionary was so moving that these eight men went back home in the depths of a deep recession in Detroit and put together the money for this orphanage in about 90 days.

I met with one of these guys who had a collection of rare 1920’s and ’30’s movie posters. Some of these posters were worth 10 or 15 thousand dollars. He didn’t have any money to give, so he went down to his basement and began taking down his posters to sell them and give the money to the orphanage.

That’s compelling vision when you’ve got people tearing things off their walls at home because they want to be involved. They want their lives to make a difference!

2. Consistent Communication

This “C” separates the big boys from the little guys. High-performance nonprofits and ministries are constantly reaching out to their constituencies through a variety of channels. They have receipt stuffers, magazines, seminars, appeal letters, audio downloads, etc.

Well-funded nonprofits communicate almost obsessively. They keep their blogs up-to-date. Newsletters go out on time and frequently. The website is updated with new pictures and stories.

Consistent communication is hard work, but the rewards are huge.

Donors give to the nonprofit that keeps up with them, not the “dabblers.” Consistency is a MUST. #fundraising Share on X

When a donor is ready to give, they are more likely to give to the organization(s) that keeps up with them…not necessarily the one that needs the money the most. Conversely, donors don’t call the “dabbler” when they’re ready to give.

To be successful in today’s competitive environment, you must commit to getting better at reaching your donors consistently.

3. Competent Follow-up

Most nonprofit leaders understand the value of good follow-up. But the special nature of major gifts, asset-based gifts, and estate gifts require the finesse of a competent professional who not only knows the legal and financial nuances, but also knows the way higher net worth individuals think.

Too many times, nonprofit staff members assume the high net worth individuals they speak to have their estate plan locked down, or that donors understand how they could leverage their assets to create impact.

This unfamiliarity with the needs, desires, and realities of today’s high net worth individual results in missed opportunities to both serve the donor and the cause.

But the competent professional knows that only 1 out of 5 high net worth individuals have a robust estate plan that includes gifts of assets and methods to reduce taxes in favor of charity. They know how unusual it is for people to have this type of well-crafted estate plan.

They also don’t assume that donors have an A-level team of financial planners around them who share their values for philanthropy.

The Difference Competence Can Make

You’ll miss opportunities if you don’t have seasoned, competent staffers to follow up with “tire kickers.” An experienced planned giving officer will be able to listen to someone who’s got a living trust and show them how they’re still paying too much in taxes.

Of course, if you’re not a seasoned professional (yet!) or if you don’t have the budget to hire one, the team here at The Giving Crowd would be happy to help. We love helping donors understand how they can leverage their assets to further the causes they care about.

4. Champions

Finally, the secret sauce to cultivating and executing transformational gifts for your nonprofit organization is to recruit champions who can share the load of fundraising.

Many organizations aren’t large enough (especially churches) to have a ”Vice President of Giving.” But more than likely, you have laymen and women in your constituencies who have some kind of knowledge or experience in planned giving, financial planning, business, estate plans, etc.

Besides having the expertise to follow up with donors competently, these individuals can communicate on an entirely different level — and with much more credibility than you as a staff person — about creating a legacy through giving of their assets. Business owners who have themselves done some gifting of assets are ideal because they “have been there.”

These individuals are your champions!

They can help you get the word out about legacy and asset-based giving and they give you the credibility you need to cultivate these transformational gifts.

And here’s some more good news: Not every champion has to be good at following up with other donors.

Gather one-liner quotes or even long-form testimonials from other legacy givers to share with your prospective donors. Keep your website fresh with new quotes and stories from your current legacy givers and givers of assets to champion this way of giving through their testimony — even if the quotes seem simplistic to you.

For example, I once had the CEO of an international company give me this quote:

“If you’ll take the time, you’re gonna like this.”

That’s it! It was so simple, but his name and credibility along with those words of encouragement were enough to make this simple quote “gold” in terms of influence.

The 4 C’s of Fundraising Success

Clear, compelling vision. Consistent communication. Competent follow-up, Champions.

These are the four C’s of fundraising success that you’ll need to build into your fundraising program to cultivate transformational gifts for your organization…even in today’s intensely competitive environment.

Want to bring competent, affordable help alongside you to cultivate major gifts of assets and legacy gifts for your organization? Let’s talk.