Fundraising Coaching

Based on working with over 30 nonprofits, the Center of Excellence has seen the following principal issue arise:  intentionally aligning the execution of strategy with the mission and vision statements to continue growth.  Many nonprofits focus on maintaining their current level of annual funding, while it would be powerful for them to consider their future:  what the nonprofit might want to do with even more financial support.  Identifying their aspirations might result in an increased level of donor giving or expansion of the donor portfolio.

Stages to Fundraising Excellence

Stage 1) Content clarity and simplification

Reviewing/providing input on all marketing and communication materials, to clarify & simplify them

Reviewing/providing input on all marketing and communication materials, to clarify & simplify them.


Review the website, newsletters, end-of-year letters, all email correspondence and all mailings. Check all materials, for characteristics such as using only language audience is familiar with…do not require your audience to do the extra work to understand; instead do the extra work for them.

The members of the nonprofit who produce the materials will be provided with a checklist by the Center of Excellence, so they will be able to check their own marketing and communication materials independently in the future.

Potential Impact if This Stage is Skipped: Marketing and communication materials are disseminated with misspellings or lack of logical flow, which affects the impression of the audience. Sometimes communication materials are aimed at the wrong audience.

How this Stage leads to Stage 2 below: Once you have communication and marketing materials prepared and edited, attention can be turned to the organizational design needed for the most effective and efficient fundraising process for the nonprofit.

Stage 2) Fundraising optimization

Helping the nonprofit organization with organizational design to optimize fundraising results


Identify other individuals in the nonprofit or on their Board who are able and willing to assist the Executive Director in fundraising, with Executive Director becoming an advisor to the process. This follow-up strengthens the activities in Stage 1.

Potential Impact If This Stage Is Skipped: Executive Director can become unduly or extraordinarily taxed with responsibilities when they are held responsible for all fundraising as well as all their other Executive Director functions. A delegation opportunity exists here.

How this Stage leads to Stage 3 below: This Stage readies the nonprofit for Stage 3. Persons identified as spearheading the fundraising campaign will consider all 15 categories of potential donors referred to in Stage 3, as well as others, if applicable. They will brainstorm with the Center of Excellence coach to develop a target list of prospects.

Stage 3) Donor identification

Identifying potential donors across 15 categories of potential funders, such as foundations, churches, businesses, Chambers of Commerce and colleges. The 15 categories were identified as the Center of Excellence performed research on fundraising opportunities for over 30 nonprofit clients. This offering sets the Center apart and makes its services unique.


  1. Review all 15 categories and discuss whether others exist that may be unique to the particular nonprofit’s fundraising program…for example, for a nonprofit relating to immigrant help, churches within a 6-county area may be identified.
  2. Work to identify each category’s set of needs and whether they require a different messaging from potential funders in other categories (The other Stages come into play here).
  3. Set a reasonable fundraising goal. Time is needed to learn the motivation of each particular donor, build trust, and create a specific solution that speaks to what they want to impact.

Potential Impact If This Stage Is Skipped: The nonprofit will miss out on the power of networking within the organization and the utilizing of creative ideas on how to approach a particular situation.

How this Stage leads to Stage 4 below: Once the Center of Excellence coach and the team have identified potential donors to approach, we can then prepare the customized pitch for each one.

Stage 4) Pitch practice and feedback

Connecting the purpose with the pitch; practicing elevator pitch; unanticipated pitch, and/or other pitch, with feedback about what is already done well and what could improve, re presentation skills


Role-play with Principal Coach while videotaping pitch. Discuss presentation skills such as, first describing topics positively in a memorable and repeatable way that resonates with the audience and, second using limited but supportive hand movement, and effectively hearing the audience concerns and answering their questions.

Potential Impact If This Stage Is Skipped: The fundraising purpose needs to be more aligned with the pitch, for the pitch to succeed. This will drive the proposer to be more frank on what the nonprofit plans to do with the money.

How this Stage leads to Stage 5 below: The Executive Director or individuals who will be pitching potential donors need their basic approach prepared for a variety of audiences before they are ready to prepare approaches for different settings.

Stage 5) Donor engagement strategy

Identifying multiple approaches and being prepared to modify for each potential donor, and prioritizing donors


Plan interaction either by phone, virtually (Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc.), or in person. Think about a special event such as a gala or a wine and cheese reception to engage and update current and potential donors.

Potential Impact If This Stage Is Skipped: Presenter needs to anticipate and prepare to make the most of interactions with potential donors so they will give and maybe become a regular giver.

How this Stage leads to Stage 6 below: All of the above 5 Stages are necessary to achieve an impact on a nonprofit’s fundraising. The next Stage is to measure how large an impact was made by the application or usage of the first 5 Stages.

Final Stage:

Stage 6) Fundraising metrics of success

Developing metrics of success (for analyzing results pre- and post-Center of Excellence engagement) that are aligned with the nonprofit’s mission and vision. Several examples are percent increase in total amount donated, percent increase in workload, and number of non-renewed donations.


Based on the mission and vision, think about how success is defined.

Discuss the metrics of success (or fundamental analytics) before any changes are made, so the metrics can be measured before the Center of Excellence coaching starts.

Potential Impact If This Stage Is Skipped: This Stage impacts the message the nonprofit has to share on what their success is. The metrics are needed to positively reinforce the current and past donors and to be able to assess the effectiveness of the programs.

Expected Time to Improve Performance of the Donor Portfolio

From a personal development perspective, to go through the Center of Excellence program is expected to take from 20 to 40 hours of a person’s time, across a period of about 3 months.  Many sessions take place on a virtual platform.  The sessions start by reviewing mission and vision statements, since they have to be crystal clear in order for fundraising efforts to be successful.  Then the Cycle for to Fundraising Excellence, with its six stages modified for the individual client, are applied, in order to increase the donor base and retain donors, and so on.  The frequency of the sessions is determined jointly by the client and the Center of Excellence.