The Six Critical Elements of an Effective Fundraising Process - An Overview

Content Piece 5 image chosen.jpg

In our most recent post, we discussed how a strong fundraising process can dramatically improve your organization’s ability to secure funds.

An effective process improves time management and use of resources across a fundraising team, while making it easier to identify issues and pain points.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the key components of a fundraising process, which you can use to build out a process for your own team.

1. Setting up a Pipeline

A funding pipeline is one of the most common and most effective tools for understanding and implementing a consistent fundraising process.

It’s purpose is to provide a framework for planning, managing, and understanding the process from stage to stage. Once it’s created, it’s also provides visual insight into what’s needed to hit a specific fundraising target - by charting the progress of fundraising prospects through each stage.

Let’s say that your organization is looking to support a specific project or funding campaign. A target has been set, so now it’s up to the fundraising team to get there.

This fundraising target is the end goal, and it exists at the end of your fundraising pipeline.

To achieve this, you will need to work backwards from the end-goal, and estimate, in numbers, what’s needed in terms of prospect numbers, employee time, calendar time and success rates in order to progress. The pipeline acts as your guide as to where any blockages exist.

It can act as a very effective way of adding structure to your overall process.    

2. Setting Roles and Responsibilities

An essential part of your process should include locking down roles and responsibilities within your organization.

Are the right people assigned to the right roles? Does everyone on your team have what they need to succeed? Are board members prepared to add their contribution and build relationships?  

Team members, respecting their other responsibilities and levels of experience, should be all working to help progress donations down the pipeline.

What matters is that you’re not wasting time and effort. Duties and resources should all be well-established prior to initial contact. Lessons learnt from your most successful previous drives can be used to inform this role-delegation.  

3. Utilizing Dependable Templates and Materials

Having a trusted set of templates on hand, including proposal documents, should form part of your adopted process.

Having these kinds of resources ready will more clearly outline the project for the potential donor, and better support the fundraising drive. More importantly, it helps you make more asks in less time.

In addition, it also ensure that you consistently use well-crafted and compelling messages across your team. The time spent ensuring the clarity, tone and, crucially, the messaging of these resources is well-spent.

Crucial documents, such as letters of intent, are what help a proposal progress from one stage of the pipeline to the next. By ensuring you are using trusted templates, progress can be more easily achieved, and you can factor the need to continually re-produce these documents out of your workflow.

4. Research / Lead Identification and Qualification

Funder research is the first step in your process, and is the foundation of your fundraising. This initial research is crucial in ensuring you reach your fundraising targets.  

This part of the process involves engaging with all the available information that you have. Previously successful campaigns, databases, networking (and Fundtracker, of course) - these can all be used to build a pool of prospects who may fund the project.

It pays to take the time to identify the kinds of donors that should be at the top of your list for any particular fundraising project.

Are you approaching the right funders? Are you sure the most promising and likely funders are prioritized in your team’s call list?  Are there a set of funders, who are publically approachable, who are likely to fund this project?

Similarly, have you ensured that your qualification process is sufficiently robust? Does it reflect real funder interest and is it providing enough of a base for progressing the ask?

5. Activity Targets and Scheduling

Fundraisers are some of the busiest people out there. They often work at organizations where resources and time are scant - and have to get the maximum out of their hours.

However, donations can take time to come to fruition. This can often take months or even years of sustained effort.

Your applied process should account for this, and ensure that it is clear on:

  • What is the funding required, and what scale / number of donations needed to reach that amount?

  • What is the timeline? What should be achieved by what date?     

  • What is the amount of time team members can put towards each activity?

Once this has been ascertained, you will be better able to break down the activity rates (e.g. number of letters of intent per month) that need to be achieved in order for the project to be viable.

Ensuring that scheduling is both realistic and regular enough to achieve this is another important aspect of the process.

6. Technology and Tools

As a fundraiser, you should take advantage of all of the tools that are at your disposal.

This includes the tools that can provide you with better intelligence and outreach regarding likely donors, and those that will better support your overall organization and time-management.

Those background tools can range from completely free resources, such as adopting collaborative online spreadsheet sharing for better collaboration, to more advanced cross-team use of advanced CRM-style applications.

These tools can help inform your process, letting you know exactly where a donation prospect is in the pipeline, when to follow-up, and what was achieved.

FundTracker is just  one example of those tools, as it enables the research and identification pieces of the process..

Through its donor-centric "Follow the Money" approach, it’s been developed to help ensure your initial prospects include all applicable prospects, so you stand a far better chance of achieving your end-goal.


The above are some of the most important elements of building a good fundraising process.

However, there is of course variation and differences between how different organizations tweak and set-up their processes to achieve success.

Are you looking to develop or improve your own fundraising process?

If so, get in touch with us to book a consultation—we’ll discuss your fundraising objectives, and provide advice on developing processes and adopting helpful tools that will help you reach those goals.

And as ever, happy fundraising!

Team Ajah