How to Build a Sustainable Fundraising Program

Long Term Planning


Too often, small causes and organizations focus only on their short-term fundraising needs. Mike Berkowitz, the co-founder and CEO of Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies, argues that it’s important even for small, new organizations to think about long-term success.

In a recent post on the Foundation Center blog, Mike offers a few ideas on where to start:

  1. Hire the right staff (not just consultants)
  2. Think holistically about your fundraising opportunities (not just about grants)
  3. Create a development plan (be proactive rather than reactive)
  4. Use a donor management system


Here at, we’ll add one more idea:

  1. Connect your cause’s story to a bigger trend or cultural narrative


For example, if your new organization is currently focused on offering computer help to San Francisco seniors, frame your work in the context of America’s rapidly aging population and/or the impact of technology on public health. Share photos, videos, or articles related to those larger themes when you communicate with donors, in addition to telling them about the specific work you’re doing today. That way, even as your organization changes and grows, you have a sustainable narrative that provides continuity for donors.


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