3 Timeless Tips to Successful Fundraisers

Tim Ahern | April 6, 2018

Some things never get old. There may be new fundraising technology and an ever-evolving assortment of fundraising products, but the backbone of a fundraiser remains the same. We’ve been around for over 50 years, so we can say this with confidence.

We originally wrote the following pointers 4 years ago to help new fundraising leaders know where to start.  Since it still remains one of our most popular posts, we thought we’d share it again to remind all fundraisers about what their main focus should be.

1. It starts with a central theme

One of the toughest parts about fundraising is that there are so many people asking for money. And their causes are worthy, too!

In order to stand out amongst the crowd and resonate with your community, you’ll want to pick a central theme. What is your purpose in fundraising? This theme should tie into the mission of your organization. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it could be as simple as “we’re raising money for our hockey uniforms” or “help us help our community.”

Nonprofit resource, Classy.org shared these guidelines for selecting a fundraising theme.

A fundraising theme should be…

  • “Action-oriented: It inspires supporters to take action.
  • Goal-oriented: It relates to the larger goals of both the overall campaign and your organizational mission.
  • Original: The idea feels fresh; it hasn’t been used by other nonprofits before.
  • Draws curiosity: It inspires supporters to want to learn more about the focus of this campaign.
  • Short and sharable: It doesn’t consume all 140 characters of a tweet. It avoids industry jargon and can be used by any and all supporters, regardless of how and why they feel connected to your cause.
  • ‘On Brand:’ It’s in line with the personality of your brand and what you stand for.”
  • Read more in “How to Create a Compelling Fundraising Campaign Theme

Once you nail down a theme, this will help you answer questions moving forward and keep your messaging nice and concise. If you effectively stick to this theme, people will immediately understand your purpose and why they should consider contributing to your fundraiser.

2. Then, you need the right product

Let’s face it, no matter how clever you are in your theme and your messaging, there are some things people just won’t buy. You need a great product.

We’ve found that an organization that finds a good product and learns to sell that year after year sees more success. Purchasers begin to associate the organization with that great product and expect to purchase it again the following year. Read more about this trend in “Boy Scout Wreaths: Helping Communities Decorate for Christmas.”

This doesn’t mean your organization needs to find the perfect product right now and stick to it. You just want to find something that meets customer demand. Your main focus should be finding what your potential buyers want.

3. Finally, you can craft your plan

Now that you have a theme and a product, our last piece of advice is to craft a plan. This would entail planning out your fundraising timeline and assigning duties. You’ll also want to map out when you plan to meet, so you can have set check-ins to ensure people are staying on top of these duties.

The planning stage is also a great time to ensure each fundraising team member has a written copy of the fundraiser’s goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of making sure products are sold, ordered and delivered, so it’s essential to always come back to why you’re doing this.

This would be a perfect time for you to download our Fundraising 101 ebook to help you avoid any hiccups moving forward. If this doesn’t cover it, keep in mind Evergreen’s team is here to help.


Sometimes these rules sound obvious, but so many fundraisers don’t consider them carefully enough. Remember these timeless tips have helped countless other organizations improve their fundraising efforts over the years. Think carefully about and determine your fundraiser’s theme, look for a product your customers actually need and might need again next year, and map out your plan to success.