Fundraising Training Guide
What's Out There. How well it works. What it costs.
There Are a Lot of Training Options Out There.
How do you choose what's right for you?
Here’s our guide on fundraising schools, courses, workshops, training platforms, coaches, and consultants.
You’ve Got Lots of Options
There’s a lot of opportunities to sharpen your fundraising skills. They’re literally everywhere. It’s almost too much to take in.
Quick webinars, YouTube, conference sessions, keynotes, structured courses—virtual and live. Diploma and degree programs. They’re provided by professional associations, coaches, consultants, and educational institutions.
The content, quality, and usefulness are all over the map. Cost is whatever you’re willing to pay. And the intended audience, and availability vary widely.
We’ve put together this concise guide to give you clarity on what it is you really need, where it is and how much it’s going to cost.
A Few Observations
Highly touted academic programs have limited availability and a narrow audience. Coaches and consultants are more available. The quality of their offerings varies wildly, however. Short sessions offered by professional associations are readily available but limited to professionals and are explicit in “career building.” The handful of offerings geared to board members and other volunteers are one-offs and quality is uneven.
There is No Correlation Between Price and Quality
Price is a poor indicator of both quality and usability. There is no one-size-fits-all. Consider your long-term organizational goals carefully. No one method or provider has the market on high-quality training. We define quality as both the sophistication AND applicability of the content to your situation.
Whether you spend a little or a lot, be aware you’re making an investment in THE MOST expensive capital investment in organization—your team.
Payroll is at least 50% of most organizations’ budgets. When you factor in volunteers, that can easily be 75% or more.
Selecting skill and team building programs well gives you the highest return on investment (ROI) of anything you spend money on. Including technology or other tools.
Here Are Some Tips for Choosing What’s Right For You
- Identify your big, overarching needs. What attitudes are holding you back? Focus first on structure then skills.
- What are the one or two things you’d like to change in your fundraising program? Always running in low gear. Lack of alignment of goals within staff. Skill deficiencies. Low or inconsistent board engagement.
- Look at return on investment very closely. ROI is about both immediate material gain and longer-term structural gain. Programs that make permanent improvements have ROI’s which are far greater than a single course that delivers short-term benefits.
- Seek a good philosophical fit. Is fundraising a transaction for you? Is it facilitating relationships between your investors and your organization? How important is donor renewal to you?
How to Interpret The Chart Below
We’ve grouped our list around the methods of delivery. They correspond with the type of provider. We’ve evaluated each method with regard to overall quality, effectiveness and cost.
- Quality is the sophistication and applicability of the content.
- Effectiveness is the level of long-term improvement in the organizational fundraising culture and financial gains
- Cost is in two parts: initial cost and projected return-on-investment. ROI is determined by expected financial gain in the first 12 months after completion of the program.
Choose a Method on the Left, Then Compare it’s Quality, Effectiveness and Cost With Any Other.
- Academic Courses
- Workshops and Seminars
- Periodic Coaching
- Continuous Learning
- Average to Excellent
- Poor to Very Good
- Fair to Excellent
*Sophistication and applicability of content
- Average to High
*Ability to create a permanent improvement in the organizational fundraising culture
Cost and ROI*
- $5K-$20K/ROI 2X
- $300-$1,500/ROI <1
- $10K-$200K/ROI 2X
- $4K-8K/ROI 3X-6X
*Return on Investment. Return within one-year of investment.
A SAMPLING OF WHAT’S AVAILABLE*
The providers listed below are just a few of the many options.
*Examples of training and education providers are given for reference and example only. No endorsement or claim of suitability in a particular situation is made or implied.