Fundraising 101: Running successful fundraisers

In this third series of Fundraising 101, let us assume you have been able to create a convincing story that will sell your fundraiser to prospective donors (as outlined in Fundraising 101: Developing a Fundraiser and Qualities of a good Fundraiser) and are ready to put it up on a fundraisi

After developing the fundraising story, you have also come up with metrics to measure your fundraising success e.g. how much money to raise, desired engagement target, awareness creation and fundraiser retention.

Increasing engagement

Engagement with your donors will be influenced by your fundraising goal, the fundraising network you have built and the platform you have selected. Your fundraising goal might be so large that you will need to reach out to both organizations and individuals to reach the amount you need, it might also need you to develop a database so you can keep track of all the donors. On the other hand, your fundraiser might be small and intimate meaning you are able to reach out to each donor individually. For the above and other types of fundraisers that fall in between, the fundraising platform you select will influence the frequency, time and means you can reach your audience and increase their involvement in the fundraiser.

To make it easier to follow the implementation of the fundraising journey, we will use the example of Rafiki (they/them) who’s fundraising to build a community centre for differently abled LGBTQ+ youth in their rural village. The fundraising goal is to raise US$ 100,000 in cash over 6 months in addition to developing a network of resources to help with the management and operation of the community centre. A big part of the fundraising initiative is to bring to light the challenges that the children, their families and the communities experience due to the children’s disability.

Rafiki is using the QAN website as the main platform for fundraising. They chose this platform as they are a queer African who already has a following on the app and are fundraising for an initiative aligned with QAN’s goals. Rafiki also wants to take advantage of the platform’s multiple sections including the blog, events, market, games and movie sections.

Rafiki’s plan involves providing updates to donors through photos and videos as they assume that each donation is the beginning of someone caring not the end. The weekly updates will help to unfold the story and inspire new donors to join the journey, thereby increasing the chances of Rafiki realizing their fundraising goal. These updates will also feature popular hashtags relevant to the fundraiser and the call to action for donors to donate, support, share and sign up to receive future updates.

Social media

Using the integrated sections, Rafiki will be able to host events, blog about their fundraising journey on a  private fundraiser group, and sell items. The fundraising section will help them to feature a fundraising campaign which effectively captures the fundraising problem through text, photos and videos, and the progress made so far. These photos and videos will feature affected youth who have consented to having their faces published. To inspire donors to contribute, Rafiki’s social media posts encourage users to share and engage with the story as it unfolds. Rafiki outlines the following storylines to increase engagement:

  • Providing updates on the donations, news, challenges, and setbacks they experience.
  • Publicly engaging donors by thanking, tagging and sharing their ‘why’ they donated stories.
  • Sharing mentions by media, organizations and event venues involved with the fundraiser.
  • Engaging with social media users; replying to comments, liking and sharing their response to continue developing relationships.
  • Enriching the lives of followers by sharing knowledge on fundraising topic
  • Initiating interesting conversations and getting the audience as they share their opinions by answering questions and taking polls.
  • Reaching out to known people/organizations in their fundraising scope to become ambassadors for the cause.
  • Boosting posts through paid promotion and advertising, targeting the detailed persona identified for the fundraiser.

Mailing list

QAN’s similarity to other social media platforms makes it easy for Rafiki to replicate the content shared among the various platforms with the goal of increasing engagement and funds raised for their campaign. Over the years Rafiki has been fundraising for various causes and developed a database of contacts who have donated, attended events and volunteered. Using this list, they will send out mailers to encourage donations, provide updates on the fundraiser and send out event invites. This process will be made easier using sample email templates they find online which will be sent out using a mail management system.

Traditional media

To increase donations, Rafiki plans on reaching out to several media outlets to help increase awareness around their fundraiser. During the media appearance, Rafiki’s call to action will be asking for financial support, volunteers and encouraging attendance to a future event they will be planning (ideally a hybrid event hosted both physically and virtually).

Building relationships with donors

A great part of building relationships with donors is making sure they feel involved and engaged during and after the fundraising journey. Using the donor database developed during the fundraiser, Rafiki will brainstorm ideas and send out Thank You messages to the donors. The donor database which includes the donor’s contact details and interests, although not conclusive as there will be anonymous donors, will help guide Rafiki’s Thank You ideas. Initial suggestions include:

  • Sending out a custom GIF to each fundraiser.
  • Planting a tree in the name of the donor within the centre’s compound.
  • Writing the donor’s name on a piece of construction material.
  • Spotlighting donors – Creating donor profiles to market the donors activities and as an opportunity for donors to feel connected to each other. 
  • Pay it forward – In the future, Rafiki will contribute to other fundraisers as a sign of goodwill to their past donors.

Refreshing a fundraiser

So, it is a new financial period, or you feel like the fundraiser has gone quiet and want to renew interest and engagement. Whatever the reason maybe, let's talk about how to approach this new challenge.

Begin by defining the goals you would like to achieve by refreshing the fundraiser, also consider its longevity and repetition when creating these goals. Additionally, ensure the relaunch is happening at the most impactful time in relation to your cause, e.g. in reference to the earlier example, Rafiki’s community centre could plan to relaunch a crowdfunding campaign during warmer months so they can host several outdoor events for the whole community.

You can also rethink your fundraiser’s online presence by adapting lessons learnt from earlier campaigns to enhance the new relaunch. Here are some suggestions to help guide the process:

  • Increase payment methods and offer options for contributions e.g. recurring or varied amounts.
  • Adapt your platform for use on mobile and provide easy to access donation buttons.
  • Enhance storytelling through photos, videos and graphics.
  • Review the impact made by previous strategies then replicate the successes and learn from the mistakes.
  • Enhance the 3 main components of your fundraiser story:
    • Offer – reinforce the need for the donor’s contribution, both financially and the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves.
    • Impact – highlight the specific impact donors will make, further breakdown into the recurring or varied amounts.
    • Options – indicate the various donation options available for donors and the impact created within each level.

Dealing with social issues

Unfortunately, fundraising isn’t a desired career path for many, most people within the development sector become fundraisers accidentally or because of necessity. Spiak (n.d.) describes fundraising as a desire for her to make an efficient measurable, resounding, and lasting impact, specifically for the charitable causes we care about. A main characteristic of this career choice is ‘asking for money’, which isn’t a desirable task for many, she recommends reframing fundraising as imperative to the wellbeing of communities and nonprofits. When done correctly, fundraising is a welcomed, natural, and extraordinarily empowering exercise for both the person asking and the person who is asked (Spiak, n.d.).

Regrettably, running a fundraiser for an extended period of time will be draining for all those involved, Spiak’s (n.d.) advise is for the fundraisers to think of their role as being matchmakers for people who would like to give but need guidance on identifying a cause they are passionate about. The goal of fundraising is to get donors who feel like they are making an impact instead of feeling like it is a solicitation.

Finding the right type of donors for your fundraiser is hard work that could be draining as it is mainly a trial and error process. You will receive a lot of no’s but you need to take that as a point of learning about the donor’s financial situation, their areas of focus, their relationship with your cause and an indicator on how well or poorly you communicated your need.

As a fundraiser you have to learn to overcome the discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment and intimidation that comes with asking for money. The negative feelings are enhanced when fundraising for personal needs. For many of us, these negative feelings are rooted in our approach to money which is shaped by our upbringing, economic status, and society’s general secrecy and hesitancy to speak about money. Due to the deep rootedness of these feelings, it will take time for you to get comfortable with ‘asking for money’. You will need to develop a changed mindset around money and asking for money; additionally, you will need to practise asking for it through your writing and your speech. That’s the only way to become comfortable with fundraising. Being passionate about your cause and focusing on building relationships with your donors will make fundraising easier.

Fundraising, like sales, requires you to constantly be on the lookout for a new opportunity, this can put you in a mental state of constantly wanting to ‘sell’ your cause which is demanding for you and those around you. In this aspect fundraising can be a full-time job that doesn’t allow you to think about anything else, as such it is essential for you to plan for downtime that will allow your mind and body to rejuvenate allowing you to refresh and return to your fundraiser rejuvenated.


In this version of the Fundraising 101 series, we explore how to revive a fundraiser that has gone quiet or are looking to renew the fundraiser’s interest and engagement. Using the example of Rafiki we’ve walked through a scenario where they fundraise for a community centre project for differently abled LGBT+ youth. Through the QAN website, Rafiki was able to use the platform for fundraising, engaging their donors and keeping them up to date on the progress being made around the fundraiser. In addition to the QAN website, Rafiki used social media, a mailing list and traditional media to increase the number of donors who viewed and engaged with the fundraiser through financial and other forms of support. We also discussed various ways Rafiki used to build relationships with donors during and after the fundraiser. Finally, we reviewed some of the social issues that could arise during the fundraiser (look out for a more in-depth article on this topic).


If you have any questions or concerns about the QAN Fundraising series and the QAN Fundraising platform please reach out to us at [email protected]. You can also join the Fundraising group to engage and learn with other fundraisers.



Armas, B. (2022, August 12). How to Write Your GoFundMe Fundraiser Story: 12 Helpful Tips. GoFundMe.

GoFundMe. (2021, April 23). Six Ways to Turn Social Media Followers into Donors.

Kindful. (2019, August 28). How Refreshing Your Website Can Impact Your Online Fundraising.

Schneider, D. J. (2019, March 25). How to raise money for our movements: Taking the Stigma out of Fundraising. ioby.

Spiak, M. O. (n.d.). Problem Solver, NOT Nuisance: Reframing the Fundraising Stigma. Foundant Technologies.

QAN Community Admin

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