So you want to learn how to do fundraising, eh?

Published by Mitchell Hinz on

As 30-year veteran of fundraising, I get asked a LOT of, well, silly questions about fundraising. But the most obvious one that shows someone is just learning the field is: “So how DO you do fundraising?”

The (obvious) answer is: well, that depends on what kind of funds you want to raise. So the first thing you need to do if you’re starting in this field is to learn the nomenclature, the language. That way, you can tell the difference between a TYPE of fundraising, and a TECHNIQUE of fundraising. For example, a charity run is a technique. So is a $500-a-plate dinner. But each of these goes after a different TYPE of donor.

In my thinking (which is a bit muddled at times, I admit) there are basically seven different kinds of private fundraising: individual, major donor, corporate (though there are several different types of corporate fundraising, there is merchandising, corporate partnerships, philanthropy, and cause-related marketing), foundations, and legacies. (There is also alumni fundraising, and capital campaigns, but those fall under major donor fundraising — starting to see why its a bit confusing to newcomers?)

I have done almost every type of fundraising, (almost all of the above) but my favorite is individual fundraising.  Why? Simple: it brings in the MOST MONEY!

One of the biggest myths of fundraising is that corporations give the most amount of money. They do not. They give the least.

Usually, people who have been told this say: “Oh, well, then it must be RICH people.” Nope.  When Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined their fortunes for charity, they got a fund worth $75 BILLION dollars.

Last year, Individuals in the USA gave more than $300 BILLION to charities. And THEY do it each year. If you are looking for money, look in the river of small gifts. Its teeming with cash.

So, how do you go after all that cash? Well, here are some techniques: face to face (or door to door) fundraising, with real, live recruiters (a.k.a. kids with clipboards, or as they are known in the UK, “chuggers”); or direct mail; or via the Web, which can include email marketing, or banner ads that drive traffic to your giving site, or cash-for-shopping sites, or donation sites like Care2Give, or Google Ad Words; or you can use SMS texting for giving; or you can run space ads on busses or in newspapers, if your cause is visual enough, like SMILE TRAIN, you can still make money from that; or you can do workplace giving programs via United Way or another workplace group; or you can make a corporate partnership that will pay you a certain amount of the purchase price of their product.

There. Those are all techniques. Or what we in the industry usually call “channels” and “methods within the channels”.

Ok. You know WHO you want to raise funds from. You have some ideas about HOW you want to do it. All you have to do it to figure out WHAT you need to do to get people to give.

That’s easy.   Just ask them.

Mitchell Hinz

Mitchell has more than 25+ years of fundraising and communications experience at NGOs, the first 20 in the USA and the last 5 globally in Europe, East and Southeast Asia and South America. Currently, Mitch is based in Singapore. Experience in all forms of private sector fundraising including Individual, Corporate, Major Donor, Special Event and Legacy. Specialist in individual and membership programs, public direct marketing of all types.


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