individual fundraising

The Individual Fundraising Certificate program is dedicated to helping nonprofit leaders build their skills in creating a productive fundraising structure for their current or future organizations with a focus on making individual gift solicitations.

Upon completion of this 48 hour certificate program, students will walk away with all the skills they need to master the art of individual fundraising - from identifying prospects to "making the ask" in one-on-one presentations to engaging a board of directors.

Faculty and Practitioners: Chris Cloud, Marti Fischer, Laura Fredricks, Paul Habig, Neil Herdan, and Don Waisanen.

To register download the registration form. For questions and information contact Edgar Zavala, Director of Executive Programs at or (646) 660-6718.

This certificate is awarded to individuals who complete the 7 modules (48 hours). Those modules are:

Module 1: Trends in Fundraising and Individual Giving/Developing a Fundraising Plan
Four Sessions. 8 hours. Dates: Thursday, September 3, 10, 17, 24, 6 pm-8 pm
Practitioner: Chris Cloud
Registration is closed (module price $365)
Explore the emerging trends in the fund-raising sector and an overview of individual giving with a focus of the most productive ways to find prospects. Overview of steps nonprofits take to develop a fundraising strategy that is appropriate for their organization. Review funding models within nonprofit organizations and how funding goals and organizational assets are determined. Develop a plan, how to execute a strategy, and how to create a culture of philanthropy within an organization.

Module 2: Identifying Prospective Donors
Four Sessions. 8 hours. Dates: Monday, October 26, November 2, 9, 16, 6 pm-8 pm
Practitioner: Neil Herdan
Registration is open for $365
. Last day to register October 19, 2015.
Successful nonprofits cannot grow or survive without accurate and up to date information. Prospect research is essential in assisting frontline fundraisers identify their best donors who can make large gifts on a regular basis, as well as identifying very affluent prospects who have a strong inclination to give to your cause. This module not only teaches the basics of prospect research, but proven strategies that help nonprofits increase their funding in the form of ever larger gifts.  Through the use of interviews, case studies, "role-playing and vendor presentations," participants will learn how to conduct prospect research through the gift cycle from identification to stewardship. Each session will build upon each other through the introduction of reading materials, small homework assignments, and networking opportunities for those interested in the growing field of prospect research. Prior to starting this module, students are strongly encouraged to obtain a copy of Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook by Jennifer J. Filla and Helen E. Brown, 2013.

  • Introduction to Prospect Research: Basic concepts will be taught such as; what it is and what is not, the role of prospect management, moves management and setting goals. Participants will receive a list of basic reading materials and free web resources that can be utilized immediately. At the end of this session you will leave with a fundamental knowledge of prospect research that will help you successfully gather accurate information on potential donors that could support your organization’s fundraising campaign.
  • Building the Portfolio: In order to receive a continuous stream of large gifts, frontline fundraisers, particularly major gift officers, need a large pool of donors to cultivate. You will learn how to construct a basic portfolio. The ideal number of donors that can be cultivated by an individual gift officer, average gift size, capacity formulas/ratings and ask amounts will all be covered. Reading materials and a small homework assignment will be given out at the end of the session. There will also be a short presentation by a major vendor in the field (TBD).
  •  Cultivating the Donor – Donor Profiles: Profiles are essentially briefing, qualification and cultivation reports that include information on the donor’s background, education, career, lifestyle and giving history. Different types of profiles will be illustrated, average length of time it takes to complete them, writing style(s), and interview techniques will all be covered. A small homework assignment will be given.  A presentation by a vendor will be made (TBD).
  • Ethics, Confidentiality and Social Media: Prospect research is largely derived from public sources of information. Researchers must not obtain, publish and/or disseminate confidential information, such as social security numbers, bank accounts, credit history, and health status. A donor has the right to request everything written about him/her, so negative information, in particular, must be reviewed with great care. Prospect researchers are also bound by a code of ethics. Institutions, associations, state, and federal agencies have all published such codes and standards. In this session, we will cover the codes of conduct published by APRA, AFP and HIPIAA. There will also be a discussion on the emerging use of social media in prospect research. There will be a final class opportunity to meet and view a vendor presentation.

Module 3: Communication Skills and Strategies Proven to Raise Funds
Four Sessions. Weekdays 6pm-8pm. (8 hours). Dates: Tuesday, September 29; October 6, 13, 20, 6 pm-8 pm
Practitioner & Faculty: Marti Fischer & Don Waisanen.
Registration is closed (module price $365)

Effective fundraising cannot take place without solid communication skills and strategies. The clarity of your messaging, the ease with which you communicate, and the alignment of your organization’s communication strategies with its fundraising goals are critical to building trust and receiving donations. This module provides participants with a comprehensive plan for communication that can be immediately implemented in all fundraising campaigns. In four sessions that build upon each other, participants will align the personal skills proven to raise funds with a coherent organizational strategy for all fundraising.

  • Elevator Pitches: Elevator pitches work because they impart information and create curiosity, providing a foundation for generating financial support that should be in every fundraiser’s toolbox. Learn how to construct a 30-second narrative that creates engagement. Stories create advocates because they can be quickly repeated over and over again. The right story supports your organization’s mission and goals and elicits an emotional response. In this module we will run through successful elevator pitches, deconstruct story structure for fundraisers, and create pitches/stories that support your organization’s goals.

  • Dynamic Conversation and Presentation Skills: Once fundraisers have mastered their elevator pitches and organization’s story, they must confidently deliver and adapt this information for a variety of audiences across many settings. This session will provide participants with tested tools for making conversations and presentations of all types more engaging, informative, and successful. New options for communicating data visually will also be covered.

  • Storytelling for Fundraising: This third session builds upon the last two to provide fundraisers with field-tested storytelling techniques to apply to their overall fundraising campaigns. Drawing from current research and practice on the art and science of storytelling—as well as cases of successful fundraising stories over the last decade—participants will walk away from this session with a new or revised story about their organizations that can be immediately implemented at all levels of a fundraising campaign.  

  • Aligning your Communications: Do you know your organization’s voice and tone? What is written on your website and disseminated through email, print and social media frame how prospective donors view your organization. Are you asking for support too often, or not often enough? Are your marketing department and development department in sync with their messaging? In this final workshop we will uncover your organization’s tone and voice to create consistent messaging. Participants will coordinate messages and approaches developed in the previous sessions across a diverse array of programs and media to keep their organization focused on essential internal/external communication practices for fundraising.

Module 4: Major Gifts: Making the Ask, Stewardship
Three Sessions. 8 hours. Dates: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, November 10, 11 & 12, 6 pm-8:40 pm
Practitioner: Laura Fredricks
Registration is closed (module price $400)
How to strategize, time and execute major gifts asks.  Engage in ‘Making the Ask’ role-play situations that outline the various donor responses you are most likely to trigger and learn tips to polish your techniques.
Book:  “The Ask: How to Ask for your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project of Business Venture”, Laura Fredricks, Jossey-Bass 2010. The book is included in your tuition.

Module 5: Annual Giving
Faculty: Chris Cloud
Three Sessions. 6 hours. Dates: Tuesdays & Thursday, November 3, 5 & 17
, 6 pm-8 pm
Registration is closed (module price $320)
Focus on the strategies, structures, processes, and methodologies of organizing, planning, conducting, and evaluating a comprehensive annual giving program. Delve into the various tools used in annual giving—direct mail, tele-fundraising, and special events, as well as “secret weapons” like crowdsourcing, Google ads and giving days.

Module 6: Maximizing Your Social Media Presence
Three Sessions. 6 hours. Dates: Thursday, October 1, 8, 15, 6 pm-8 pm
Practitioner: Paul Habig
Registration is closed (module price $320)
Explore various ways to maximize your online presence and grow your donor base—including the strengths of each social media platform; the role of SEO and SEM; the importance of sending mobile-friendly communications; and the benefits of using organic posts, promoted posts, and Facebook ads

Module 7: Engaging Your Board in Individual Fundraising
Two Sessions. 4 hours. Dates: Tuesday & Thursday, October 27 & 29, 6 pm-8 pm
Practitioner: Marti Fischer
Registration is closed (module price $250)

If your volunteer Board is not contributing then your prospects for fundraising are limited.  Discover how to activate your Board in the fundraising cause.  Celebrate your Board’s passion and master tactics to direct that passion toward individual fundraising

To register download the registration form. For questions and information contact Edgar Zavala, Director of Executive Programs at or (646) 660-6718.