4 Themes for Fundraising Success

4 Themes for Fundraising Success

What if long-term success in fundraising is less about tools and techniques and more about culture and systems, those day-to-day habits and practices throughout a nonprofit organization?

Kim Klein and Jeanne Bell, authors of the 2016 research report, Fundraising Bright Spots, gleaned lessons from a diverse sample of nonprofit organizations who have been successful at a time when high levels of turnover and burnout fund development work are quite common.

Kim Klein“We searched for organizations where fundraising seemed to be working and gathered 4 major themes that pointed to the success of 16 bright spot organizations.” – Kim Klein

Brightspot Findings

  • Fundraising is core to the organization’s identity.
  • Fundraising is distributed broadly across staff, board and volunteers.
  • Fundraising succeeds because of authentic relationships with donors.
  • Fundraising is characterized by persistence, discipline and intentionality.


These characteristics can be developed in almost any organization, large or small, but often they may be overlooked.  One example of a bright spot is Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA). “With a shared leadership model, including co-executive directors and a grassroots fundraising coordinator on staff, MUA engaged many staff and volunteers in raising $517,000 from individuals in 2015.” (Fundraising Bright Spots, pg. 32). You can read more examples and case studies in the full report commissioned by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

Fundraising Workshop with Kim Klein 6/9

Slides from Kim’s lunchtime presentation in Monterey: Fundraising Bright Spots Slides June 9 2016

Susie Polnaszek is a Program Officer for the Community Foundation for Monterey County, where she delivers programs and services for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, including LEAD Institute. She enjoys helping people access information and resources that can make a difference in their work.