The “Secret Sauce” of Successful Fundraisers

Every nonprofit wants one – a successful fundraiser that knocks it out of the park. We all look for that event or activity that engages and motivates donors, maximizes participation, fuels ongoing brand engagement, and has a great return on your investment. For each charity, that may be a single large-scale event or a series of smaller activities, but more likely it’s the ongoing challenge of finding a balance “just right” opportunities that engage donors without overburdening the organization’s resources. While the “secret sauce” to fundraisers may include different spices for each organization, the recipe always includes some key concepts.

Do Your Homework

Donors need to know all about the organization their funds are helping. Are these funds helping ongoing operations or building toward a specific goal? Is that information available on your website, social media, print materials, and fundraiser information? Are you a registered 501c3 or similar organization so your donors will receive the tax credit they deserve for donating? Does your fundraising goal state what their donation will truly be funding? If you are having an event, will donors receive that message from the podium/multimedia? Make sure the groundwork is completed to get your organization’s most important messages across, not only the numbers and data, but also the personal messages about the impact your nonprofit has.

Channel Your Donors

We all hope our nonprofit is at the forefront of our donors thoughts and that they share our goals for growth, better and stronger services, and overall success in tackling the issues important to us.  This is a great concept, but we all have competing causes weighing on our hearts and minds. When they choose your nonprofit, what is truly in it for your donor? Large-scale fundraisers may include attendance at an event, naming rights or publicity, or opportunities to see their funds in action.  If your donors are coming to an event, from a golf outing to a gala, you wants yours to be the event they remember with a welcoming atmosphere, a one-of-a kind experience, event takeaways such as small gifts or great photos, friendship and camaraderie, and anything YOU would like if you are going to dedicate your time to a cause. Small-scale opportunities like a donation dropbox may not seem important, but the right high-traffic location and publicity could turn a small dropbox into a simply opportunity for a large number of donors.

Engage Your Team

Every board member, staff member, and volunteer brings something to the table. For Churches in Mission’s 2022 fundraising gala, the engagement from all sides translating to a larger pool of people talking to potential sponsors, seeking unique auction items, sending out mailers and information, and serving as all-hands-on-deck to decorate the venue, greet guests, share information, and more. It takes a team create success on such a large scale. Just as a chef is inspired to try to new flavors and recipes, every nonprofit leader should use their cause as inspiration to move the organization forward and to engage donors. Bon appetite!



Susan Haynes is the Executive Director of Churches in Mission, which has been serving Morgan County since 1987. She also serves as the Communications Director of Mooresville Schools and is a past president and board member of the Community Foundation of Morgan County.


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