Five of my favourite free fundraising resources

Deep in my desk drawer lies a handful of very important papers.

Dog-eared, peppered with little notes, and stained with more than one coffee ring, I toted these pages around with me for years.

I credit them with helping me learn some of the most important lessons in effective major gift fundraising.

And the best part?

I didn’t pay a penny for them!

I’m writing about one of favourite things today – the treasure trove of totally free fundraising resources available just for the asking.

Don’t they say the best things in life are free? So, here are five of my favourite free (but priceless!) resources and tools.

The Osborne Group’s Strategic Questions

Those well loved papers I’m referring to above? I first received them years ago as a handout in one of Karen Osborne’s excellent major gift training sessions.

While the concept of asking great questions has become popular, I think Karen was one of the first I heard talking about the importance of asking donors strategic questions to help us better understand their philanthropic priorities, personal passions, and dreams for changing the world.

The questions have evolved over the years, and the document is revised and updated annually. Look for the link “Strategic Questions: Our most popular resource” – and enjoy deeper and more fulfilling conversations with your donors.

Simone Joyaux’s Free Download Library

Simone is so generous with her tips and tools, you could give yourself a free masterclass in strategic fundraising, governance and organizational development simply by studying all the resources she shares.

She’s got it all here – sample job descriptions, performance appraisals, strategic planning questions – if you need it, chances are Simone has it in her well stocked download library.

The Good Partnership’s Annual Fundraising Plan Template

Do you know you need a fundraising plan, but are struggling with what that should look like?

The Good Partnership to the rescue!

You can download their annual fundraising plan template – it’s a perfect tool to get your small shop started in taking a more strategic approach to your fundraising activities.

Tom Ahern’s 20 Questions: The Donor Communcations Test

Tom created this fantastic download for fundraisers, their bosses, their boards - and especially for newbies to the non-profit.

It’s an easy and entertaining read that will give you a quick, common understanding of profitable, proven best practices in appeals, newsletters, and thanks ... printed and digital.

Are you trying to overcome some common objections from your boss or board (“we don’t want to communicate with our donors too often – we’ll make them angry!”)?

You’ll find some great facts, stats and stories to back up your case to communicate more effectively with donors.

Hands-On Fundraising’s Appeal Checklist

Do you write your fundraising appeals in house?

You’ll be interested in Mary Cahalane’s Fundraising Appeal Checklist. Mary covers off aspect of your package that will impact your results – from crafting an effective P.S., to the size and shape of your envelope.

And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my very own free resource - Sparking your Story is a free template to help you tell your stories more effectively, so you can touch more hearts, and raise more money.

Of course, free resources can never take the place of working directly with the right consultant!

Are you thinking about working with a consultant, but aren’t sure if you’re ready? There’s a free resource for that too! Check out Simone’s tips for using a fund development consultant.

Am I missing any free fundraising resources you’ve found particularly valuable? Share your favourites with us in the comments below!

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraiser who has been helping great causes like yours build and grow successful fundraising programs since 1995. She’s the President-Elect of the world’s largest Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Chapter in Toronto, and the National Chair of AFP’s Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy. Contact Emma to book your free discovery session, and find out how you can work together to strategically focus your precious resources on the fundraising initiatives that truly work.for your organization.​ You can book your complimentary session using my on-line calendar - I look forward to talking to you soon!

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