The Fundraising Process

11, 12

To introduce students to fundraising and to guide them as they raise funds that will be used by the class for grantmaking to selected organizations

PrintA series of class periods throughout the semester

Students will:

  • Understand the philosophy of effective fundraising and selling
  • Learn the qualities of an effective fundraiser
  • Learn the difference between a personal solicitation and a mass solicitation
  • Learn how to implement a mass solicitation through fundraising appeal letters
  • Learn how to implement a personal solicitation through in-person meetings and/or telephone calls
  • Learn the importance of thank you notes and reports to donors
  • Develop and practice a routine for soliciting support for the class’ grantmaking activities

The Fundraising Plan

Copies of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. speech, "The Technique of Soliciting Funds" (1933)

List of prospects with contact information

Mass Solicitation Letter

Mass Solicitation Brochure

Personal Solicitation Letter

Personal Solicitation Brochure

Packet of information about the class and its impact (for potential donors)

Relationship Management Journal

Script for phone calls

Script for personal visits

Cell phones during class in which personal calls are made

Teacher Preparation 
  1. Read through The Fundraising Plan (in the Handouts section) to prepare yourself for the different fundraising processes you will take students through across the semester.
  2. Prior to discussing and working on fundraising, develop a “script for phone calls” that students will use when they follow-up with potential donors who receive a fundraising letter from them. 
  3. Also write a “script for personal visits” that students will use when they meet with potential donors in person or have telephone meetings with them to solicit support.

Philanthropy, giving, fundraising, effectiveness, goal-setting, solicitation letter, prospects, personal solicitation, mass solicitation, appeal


Rockefeller, John D., Jr. (1933). "The Technique of Soliciting Funds." Available at


  1. Providing a background on fundraising:

    • If you have the time, invite a successful and exciting fundraiser or sales person to speak to your class and inspire them for the fundraising they have ahead when they will contact people to raise money for the class grant awards.
    • For homework, have students read “The Technique of Soliciting Funds” by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1933).
    • Discuss with students the characteristics of effective fundraising. Share the similarities between fundraising and sales. If you have invited a fundraiser or salesperson to speak to your class, connect what they say to John Rockefeller’s advice and to your thoughts about effective fundraising. If the speaker is a salesperson, make sure to explain for students the difference between fundraising and sales and nonprofit organizations and businesses.
  2. The next three stages that follow outline the main steps in the fundraising processes “preparing for fundraising,” “mass solicitation” and “personal solicitation.” For more background and details about these stages, review the document, The Fundraising Plan found in Handouts.

  3. Preparing for fundraising:

    • Students will set goals for fundraising. The average amount raised by the class at Kentucky Country Day each year has been around $3,000-5,000.
    • Students elect a Development Coordinator for the class.
    • Ask students to think about and determine people they feel are good prospects to contact about giving to the class’ fund. Typically, they include different types of people – people they know well, people outside of their family, and those outside of their comfort zones. Ask students to give a minimum of three names / contacts they will solicit to the Development Coordinator for the class.
    • Provide the “script for personal phone calls” to students ahead of time and review these with them. Have them role-play conducting personal phone calls.
  4. Mass solicitation:

    • Create a mass solicitation (this is a mass appeal fundraising letter) – this will become your class’ “template”. You may also want to create a brochure about your class / program to accompany the letter. See examples of a Mass Solicitation Letter and Brochure in the Handouts section. Do not include those contacts that will be personally solicited through an in-person visit or a phone call.
    • Divide the list and have students personalize letters.
    • Have students mail the letters in packets and include a time/date in which the student will personally follow up and ask for support.
    • Hold class time dedicated to personal follow-up by the students. Check in with students to see how they are feeling during their calls and emails with possible supporters and have them report on their progress toward the class’ fundraising goals.
  5. Personal solicitation:

    • Work with students and the class Development Coordinator to schedule in-person visits or telephone meetings with contacts to whom students will make a personal appeal for donations to the class’ fund. 
    • Spend time allowing students to role-play in-person solicitations using the “script for personal visits.”
    • Accompany students on personal visits or sit with students during telephone “visits” during which students make an appeal for support. When possible, in-person visits are preferable to phone calls.  See examples of a Personal Solicitation Letter, Brochure, and Packet in the Handouts section.
    • Ask students to keep track of the process and their progress by filling out the Relationship Management Journal (in the Handouts section)
  6. As gifts / checks start coming in, the Development Coordinator and the Treasurer work together to coordinate a gift process. The Development Coordinator tracks all gifts that come in from the mass solicitation and the Treasurer sends thank you notes to donors. For gifts from personal solicitations, the students whose contacts have made donations write thank you cards to them and these are accompanied with a letter from the teacher providing a summary of the semester and update on fundraising.

  7. Students wrap up the semester with a Jeopardy reflection game (see Lesson 13 Reflection and Wrap-up).