Fundraising Bright Spots

What can we learn from nonprofits that are beating the odds?

A new report explores common themes and practices across 16 social change organizations achieving breakthrough success in individual giving.

In the 2013 study, UnderDeveloped, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and CompassPoint captured a distressing picture of the chronic fundraising challenges facing today’s nonprofits. Now, the Haas Jr. Fund is teaming up with CompassPoint and other partners to move the conversation from problems to solutions.

A new study, Fundraising Bright Spots, explores how a select group of social change organizations are achieving breakthrough results in individual giving. Looking across these organizations, authors Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Kim Klein of Klein & Roth Consulting and document the deeper organizational attributes that allow these organizations to excel. The study explores common themes in the mindset behind these organizations’ fundraising, the day-to-day practices and habits of their people, their organizational cultures, the systems they rely on, and more.

“Both CompassPoint and Klein & Roth Consulting have worked with thousands of organizations over decades and helped them solve fundraising and other organizational problems, but by flipping our own methodology on its head, and searching for organizations where fundraising seemed to be working, we learned that some of the reigning wisdom about what organizations need may not be true,” said Klein. “Specifically, we may miss the mark when we focus on providing help with plans, strategies, training or evaluation, when what organizations need are ways to change the structure, habits and fundraising ethos within their organizations.”

Added Bell, “Listening to the passion with which these social justice leaders, volunteers, and donors talked about fundraising as part of a broader commitment to be in relationship with people who also care deeply about their causes changed my view of fundraising entirely. It taught me that applying an organizer’s mindset to fundraising with individuals can work for those of us who aren’t organizers if we believe passionately in our causes too. I learned that fundraising is process that, with the right support, many, many people can be involved in. And that by involving many, we are also building power.”