Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fundraising Cycle

These are the five stages of the Fundraising Cycle:

  1. Identification
  2. Qualification
  3. Cultivation
  4. Solicitation
  5. Stewardship

The fundraising cycles will differ in name and stages included, but the main  processes will  stay constant  no matter the source

Identification: finding and identifying potential prospective donors (this can be individuals, companies, or foundations).  The goal is to identify a donors(s) that are the best fit for your organization.  I would suggest researching other organizations that are similar to your cause, and seeking out their donors.  Most times charities will have donor lists posted on the Internet.

Qualification: once you identify the donor(s), it's time to see if their interests match your cause.  Figuring out their capacity for giving is essential at this stage.  You don't want to spend too much time on this person if you don't think they will or can give now or in the future.  

Cultivation: this is the fun stage where you get to wine and dine your potential donor(s).  The goal in this stage is to get to know your donor(s), find out where their passion for giving stems from; and for them to get to know you.  You want to build a personal relationship with this person.  This stage takes time, maybe six months to a year; each person is different.

Solicitation: here is where you get to make "the ask".  The ask can either be verbal, or as a written proposal.  This is a very tricky stage because asking for financial support is no easy feat.  When asking for a certain amount of support, it's best to assess the needs of your organization (what is most valuable, is it current or in the future) and the capacity of the donor.  It is possible to ask for too little of an amount and run the risk of insulting the donor, or asking for too much and getting rejected right away.  This stage also requires patience.  Sometimes people need time to make financial decisions.

Stewardship: once you receive a positive response from your "ask" or proposal, you still have work to do.  Fundraising is a process that never stops.  Stewarding your donors is key to building long lasting relationships.  You don't want to just ask someone for money and then never communicate with them again.   Putting forth the effort to make a couple visits a year, or stay in constant communication will go a long way in keeping a donor for life.  Also, it is good to keep donors apprised of what new changes are occurring in your organization.  This gives them a sense of belonging.  


  1. Great post! I think the cycle is definitely valuable when it comes to understanding the flow of iteraction and the lifecycle of fundrasing. One question I have is whether the rise of online giving has any impacts on this cycle.