Not-for-Profit Notebook

Practical insight and analysis on the accounting, audit and tax issues impacting not-for-profit organizations.

Four Fundraising Strategies For Nonprofits That Use Personal Appeal

It is difficult to develop new and successful fundraising ideas for nonprofits. Instead of starting from scratch, why not amplify your current fundraising methods by personalizing them?

Remember: People don't necessarily give to charities or causes. They give to the people representing those charities. People make decisions based on emotion and personal connections. For this reason, personal appeal and humanization continue to be powerful fundraising techniques for nonprofits. Board members can be particularly successful fundraisers by appealing to their professional networks, as well as friends and family.colleagues-having-coffee

  1. Humanize the appeal. If your organization helps abused animals find permanent homes and one of your board members has adopted a pet, suggest that he or she share this experience with any potential donors. This illustrates to these potential donors both why the board member supports the organization and why donations are so needed. Bonus tip: Ask your board members to consider anyone in their networks who might already have a personal connection to your charity’s mission. If a board member and a potential donor share a common experience, such as adopting a pet, the appeal is even more likely to be successful.
  2. Emphasize personal and professional benefits. Even though donors are usually satisfied knowing they’ve supported a successful and philanthropic organization, it’s important to note any additional benefits donating gives to donors. For example, if donating a certain amount of money to your organization allots a donor two tickets to your exclusive gala, tout the networking benefits available to the donor at this event.
  3. Meet potential donors in person. It may be tempting to send an email to potential donors to save time, but face-to-face meetings are more effective. When possible, always meet in person. It’s important to note that any humanizing anecdotes like the one shared in the first fundraising strategy above will translate better face-to-face than over email. Bonus tip: Meet potential donors when and where it’s convenient for them. A face-to-face meeting could be a fifteen minute coffee break or an evening cocktail event. Stay attuned to their preferences and schedules.
  4. Arm board members with pathos-driven marketing materials. Whenever a board member is set to meet with potential donors, be sure they’re prepared with any branded marketing materials your organization might have. Do you have a brochure explaining your mission and your successes? Do you have an annual report to share? Give copies of these materials to your fundraisers. You never know who they might meet, and marketing materials can support any personal appeals or stories your board members may share.


Successful fundraising strategies for nonprofits are difficult to craft. Be sure to humanize and personalize any of your fundraising methods to suit your board members’ networks so they’re able to best reach potential donors.