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3 tips for getting comfortable in your new fundraising role

February 14, 2022
A smiling man sits on a conference table, getting comfortable in his new fundraising role, while his colleagues work in the background.

Being a successful fundraiser takes a great deal of discipline, communication skills, and passion. If you’ve recently been hired by a nonprofit organization, it helps to get outside guidance on how to develop your fundraising skills.

That being said, it’s up to you to determine the leadership style that fits best with your skills and your nonprofit’s supporters. Let’s go over some tips for getting comfortable with fundraising for a new nonprofit.

1. Get to know as many people as possible.

Getting to know your coworkers, volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries on a personal level can help you acclimate to the nonprofit’s atmosphere faster. It helps to learn about your new employer through the eyes of its leadership, as they’re experts on the nonprofit. 

For instance, you could arrange a coffee chat with at least one board member, program director, or volunteer leader each week for the next couple of months. Arrive prepared with around five questions about why they became involved with the nonprofit and what motivates them to stay involved. It helps to practice in-person meetings in a more casual setting to help you strengthen your conversational skills. Plus, you can learn more about the nonprofit from a variety of perspectives and make friends in the process. 

2. Ease into fundraising asks.

Even the most seasoned fundraising professionals shouldn’t overextend themselves by constantly pitching donors. Schedule enough donor calls that you’re making appeals to a wide variety of donors, but also give yourself enough time to properly prepare for each of them. Moderation is key, especially when you’re new to a nonprofit or fundraising role. 

Start by setting a reasonable goal of two donation asks every workweek. Don’t feel discouraged if you are turned down since you’re new to the nonprofit and need to build relationships with donors. Regardless of the meeting result, send a note after each conversation thanking the prospect for their time. Then, put the information you learned from the donor in your CRM and establish a timeline for following up with another ask.

3. Get help from your peers.

There are hundreds of fundraising professionals you can learn from to improve your people skills—you just need to know how to find them. Start by joining the Association of Fundraising Professionals and block the time to participate as frequently as you can. Several chapters even have formal mentor programs and/or specific offerings for members new to the sector.

Or, if your nonprofit has more resources in your training budget, consider hiring a fundraising coach or consultant to spend a few hours training you, your board, and your volunteer peer-to-peer fundraisers on how to make a fundraising ask. Ensure that your team is ready for action by roleplaying donor conversations with each other and providing constructive feedback. Not only is this a great way to prepare your fundraisers, but it’s also an excellent team-building exercise. 

Making the most of your fundraising role

Ultimately, the future of your organization depends on your ability to fundraise. Therefore, optimizing your entire team’s fundraising efforts should be a group effort. Even if being the new hire is daunting, keep in mind that everyone around you is invested in your success and can help you navigate your position.

Once you forge connections with your coworkers, beneficiaries, donors, and volunteers, you’ll start to see yourself as a talented matchmaker that connects your nonprofit with generous individuals interested in advancing your mission.

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