Starting Strong: The First Three Steps for a New Fundraising Manager

a man donating a good

Stepping into the role of a fundraising manager is both exciting and challenging. The impact of your efforts will be pivotal in driving the mission and growth of the nonprofit organisation you serve. As you embark on this journey, setting a solid foundation is crucial. Here are the first three things a new fundraising manager should do to ensure a successful start.

1. Understand the Organisation Inside and Out

Before diving into fundraising activities, take the time to thoroughly understand the organisation’s mission, values, history, and current operations. This foundational knowledge will not only guide your strategies but also help you communicate more effectively with donors.

  • Meet with Key Stakeholders: Schedule meetings with the executive director, board members, program managers, and other key staff. These conversations will provide insights into the organisation’s goals, challenges, and expectations from the fundraising department
  • Review Past Fundraising Efforts: Analyse past fundraising campaigns and events. Understand what worked, what didn’t, and why. Look at donor demographics, donation trends, and feedback from previous initiatives
  • Familiarise Yourself with Programs: Gain a deep understanding of the programs and services the organisation offers. This knowledge will be essential when crafting compelling stories and messages for your fundraising efforts

2. Evaluate and Enhance Donor Relationships

Building and maintaining strong relationships with donors is at the heart of effective fundraising. Start by evaluating the current state of these relationships and identifying opportunities for enhancement.

  • Analyse the Donor Database: Review the organisation’s donor database to understand the composition of your donor base. Identify major donors, recurring donors, lapsed donors, and potential new supporters
  • Reach Out to Major Donors: Initiate personal contact with major donors and key supporters. Introduce yourself, express gratitude for their past support, and seek to understand their motivations and interests. This will help you tailor your approach to each donor and build stronger connections
  • Segment Your Donors: Develop a segmentation strategy to categorise donors based on their giving history, interests, and engagement levels. This will enable you to create targeted and personalised communication plans for different donor groups

3. Develop a Strategic Fundraising Plan

A well-thought-out fundraising plan is essential for achieving your financial goals and ensuring sustainable growth. Begin by setting clear, measurable objectives and outlining the strategies and tactics you’ll use to reach them.

  • Set SMART Goals: Establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) fundraising goals. These could include targets for total funds raised, number of new donors, donor retention rates, and specific campaign outcomes
  • Identify Fundraising Channels: Determine the mix of fundraising channels you’ll use, such as direct mail, online campaigns, major gifts, grants, and events. Each channel should align with your goals and the preferences of your donor base
  • Create a Calendar: Develop a fundraising calendar that outlines key activities, campaigns, and events throughout the year. This will help you stay organised and ensure a steady flow of fundraising efforts
  • Budget and Resources: Prepare a budget that outlines the costs associated with your fundraising activities. Ensure you have the necessary resources, including staff, technology, and marketing materials, to execute your plan effectively


As a new fundraising manager, your first steps will set the tone for your tenure and significantly impact the organisation’s success. By deeply understanding the organisation, evaluating and enhancing donor relationships, and developing a strategic fundraising plan, you will lay a strong foundation for your fundraising efforts.

In summary, these initial actions will help you build trust, create a clear roadmap, and position yourself as a valuable asset to the organisation. With a solid start, you’ll be well on your way to driving impactful fundraising initiatives that support and advance the mission of your nonprofit.