Your Questions Answered: Building Fundraising Relationships in a Socially Distant World

Your Questions Answered: Building Fundraising Relationships in a Socially Distant World
Your Questions Answered: Building Fundraising Relationships in a Socially Distant World


We’re back with more answers to your questions about effective fundraising approaches, especially in a socially distanced world. Read on for our best advice about connecting with prospects and donors right now.

How do Development Leaders identify major fundraising prospects while working remotely?

The COVID-19 crisis has presented a unique opportunity for development professionals to do the critical groundwork in identifying those prospects whose capacity and inclination can impact current and future fundraising projects.

We recommend you follow these six steps, outlined in detail in a recent article.

  1. Create a broad wealth profile of your high-capacity donors.
  2. Organize an online meeting of your Development or Major Gifts committee and ask them to rate the wealth capacity, inclination, and interests of your current prospects.
  3. Sort your prospects by giving history, listing the largest donors first.
  4. Build donor profiles for the top 50 individuals on your list.
  5. Identify the prospects that have not been giving to capacity or are new to your community.
  6. Meet with your Admission Director to glean information about incoming families who should be included on your list of major donors.

How do you approach new families—if they are not familiar with private school fundraising needs?

Many private schools saw an influx in enrollment of students from public schools. These new families may not be used to the "ask" for donations—they may think their tuition is their only obligation.

Frequent, transparent, and honest communication and education about the reason for fundraising. Connect the needs and interests of these families with the goals of your fundraising campaigns. Illustrate how their contributions will impact your school. Explain the importance of each families’ participation so they will better understand the culture of philanthropy in private schools.

Can I ask the public for donations?

You can try, but don’t be surprised if you get few results. Development is about relationships. It is hard to solicit money from people who are not invested in your school's mission. Nurture those who have already formed a relationship with your school first, before expending effort on the public.

What are the differences between the Board's development work and the development work of the Leadership Team?

The division of labor is that the Board supports annual giving, but volunteers and staff run the fundraising programs. The Board drives capital campaigns and the team helps them.

You cannot have a successful campaign without Board ownership. Its influence on critical donors can be significant—Board members must be actively involved from the beginning.

The Board’s role is to provide for the school's current students and future viability, including being able to find—both now and in the future—most school improvements and fiscal responsibilities.


Tune in to live webinars every week during the school year to get specific, research-backed insight you can immediately apply at your school.


What are the pros and cons of using the “gap amount” as a benchmark for annual fund giving?

Many schools approach fundraising by detailing the need to fill the “gap” between what is covered by tuition and fees and what is needed to run the school. We advise against this messaging for the annual fund. The approach is negative, leaving many asking, “Why doesn’t the school just charge what it costs to run the school?”

Instead, your annual fund strategy should function as an effective tool for informing, involving, and bonding your constituents to your school. It creates a structure for providing opportunities for your community to become more knowledgeable about your students, the excellence of your faculty, and your school’s ability to accomplish its mission.

We hope these answered some of your most pressing questions!


How to Build and Implement an Extraordinary Major Gifts Program

Even in these uneasy times, it is possible to collect major gifts by using foundational approaches to build and solidify relationships with your biggest donors. Some might argue this has never been more important. This workshop explores a proven methodology for creating a fundraising program that produces generous returns, now and in the future.



Upcoming Events

8/19/2021 — 1/20/2022


New Heads Cohort: Fall Semester

Status: Open


11/3/2021 — 11/6/2021


25th Annual Heads Retreat

Status: OpenLocation: San Antonio, TX


More Events

  • workshop 10/6/2021 — 10/8/2021

    Summer Program: An Asset to Your School

  • workshop 10/18/2021 — 10/19/2021

    How to Build and Implement an Extraordinary Major Gifts Program

  • workshop 10/25/2021 — 10/27/2021

    School Hiring Mastery: How to Create and Implement a Mission-Driven Hiring Plan