Five Steps for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising

Updated: Mar 01, 2023

A plant seed grows on a pile of coins
by Amanda L. Ravens, Special Events & Corporate Partnership Manager, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Who is Amanda Ravens?

Amanda is the Corporate Partnership Manager at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, located in Boston, Massachusetts. In her role, she matches the philanthropic interests of companies with the funding needs of the hospital, as well as secures sponsorships for the Network’s high profile fundraising events. Prior to her current position, Amanda managed fundraising events and worked in major gifts.

Amanda graduated cum laude from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and currently resides in Boston with her dog, Mogley. She has completed four marathons and is an avid Boston sports fan.

Amanda can be reached at and is available for hire to consult on specific fundraising related challenges, as well as strategic planning and campaign enhancements.

A Note From Amanda:

Last fall, I was invited to speak at the Alliance for Community Media Northeast Region Conference. As a fundraiser and relationship management professional, I shared my experience in healthcare philanthropy and focused on the implementation of fundraising best practices in a community media setting. Following my presentation, I was approached by Tightrope Media Systems and asked to create fundraising-related content to support their current and prospective clients.

Across the country, community media stations rely heavily on the ability to secure philanthropy dollars; however, many encounter challenges due to limited resources and experience. Asking for money is hard and is uncomfortable for most. Additionally, fundraising is typically not the primary role of a single staff member within a community media organization. Over the next several months, I will be sharing a wide range of strategies that can enhance overall business success and boost your fundraising totals. To begin, it is important to understand the basic fundraising principles, the giving cycle and what motivates people to give.

The Fundraising Cycle:

The work of a fundraiser is never done and should be thought of as an ongoing relationship. It is often helpful to refer to the fundraising cycle to help strategize, forecast and manage donor relations. The cycle includes:IDENTIFICATION, QUALIFICATION, CULTIVATION, SOLICITATION and STEWARDSHIP.

Five Proven Steps to Successful Fundraising

What Motivates People to Give:

For many, asking for money is an uncomfortable task. If you have trouble with “the ask” try to remind yourself that you are not asking someone to consider a risky investment, but are working to better the community you live and work in.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote address from David Rubenstein, an American financier and philanthropist. Mr. Rubinstein is best known as the co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm, as well as a signer of The Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. During his address, Mr. Rubenstein said, “there are three reasons that I give money away: to start something that otherwise wouldn’t be started; finish something that otherwise wouldn't be finished; and personal intellectual interest.”

Understanding what motivates donors—generally, as well as specifically—is crucial to fundraising success. In addition to Mr. Rubenstein’s personal philanthropic motivations, the primary reasons that most donors give include: IMPACT, APPRECIATION, MISSION, IMPULSE, PEER PRESSURE, RECOGNITION and BENEFITS.

Fundraisers should use the aforementioned to help connect prospects to specific funding needs, especially during the cultivation process. Next time you are with a prospect, try asking the question “why do you/what motivates you to give to your charities of choice?” You’ll be surprised by how helpful it will become in your strategy.

Want more like this? 

If you have any questions regarding the content covered in this first post, please feel free to contact me at

Check out my full series on Nonprofit Fundraising: 

  1. Five Steps for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising
  2. Sources of Funding & Trends in Philanthropy
  3. Developing Your Nonprofit Board
  4. Year End Giving—your Final Push 
  5. How Social Media Can Help with Fundraising

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