In today’s increasingly competitive fundraising environment, nonprofits must broaden and expand their revenue streams to remain sustainable. Implementing a wide range of revenue-generating initiatives strengthens your organization’s stability and cultivates resilience in navigating economic uncertainty. This article explores the key strategies and best practices that help fortify your nonprofit’s financial solvency. 

Understand the Philanthropic and Economic Landscapes

It is helpful to first understand how economic realities shape philanthropy. The 2023 financial landscape was unstable, with significant fluctuations and challenges, as the S&P 500 experienced a sharp decline of 25.4%. This downturn mirrored a broader trend as disposable personal income also saw a dip of 7.5%. Finally, inflation rose to 8.0%, its highest rate in four decades. However, notable bright spots amid these economic headwinds included the GDP growing by 1.1%; concurrently, unemployment rates have dropped to some of the lowest in the past half-century.

Despite economic uncertainty, philanthropy maintained a steady growth trajectory. However, this was accompanied by an apparent decline in individual giving following the years of historic generosity associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This leveling off in giving patterns suggests a need to recalibrate charitable contributions. Further, generational giving is shifting due to the great wealth transfer, with anticipated significant implications for the industry.

Against this backdrop, how might your nonprofit diversify its revenue? Here are some tips to get started.

Evaluate your donor pyramid from bottom to top

A visual representation of the prospect pyramid. The pyramid is divided into three sections, with Planned Gifts at the top (Donor Commitment), Major Gifts in the middle (Donor Growth), and Annual Fund at the bottom (Donor Contact). A golden outline highlights the top two sections.

Review your existing donor data to identify prospects for your various fundraising areas, with a focus on donor growth and commitment.

  • Ask donors with records limited to contact information for an annual fund gift.
  • Consider asking those who have the capacity and are showing an increase in giving annually for a major gift.
  • Consider those who have given for a length of time and are considered loyal donors as planned giving prospects.

Use Non-Linear Fundraising Growth to Your Advantage

Non-linear fundraising growth provides a dynamic paradigm for nonprofits, marked by a mix of more predictable and less predictable funding sources.

More predictable fundraising sources include gifts from:

  • alumni
  • grateful patients
  • annual funds
  • corporate partnerships

Less predictable funding streams often encompass larger, less frequent donations, such as:

  • transformational gifts
  • principal gifts
  • major gifts
  • planned gifts

A nonprofit’s success depends on maintaining steady growth while staying ready to capitalize on significant spikes in funding, which only happen occasionally. While more predictable avenues ensure a stable foundation, less predictable avenues can offer substantial leaps forward, although less frequently. Therefore, balancing these elements is essential for financial stability.

Increase your revenue with major and leadership gifts

Major Gift Activation is a collaborative effort across various stakeholders within a nonprofit.

Your Development Team Drives Major and Leadership Gifts

The development team plays a central role in this process, beginning with creating a comprehensive plan outlining objectives and strategies. Coordination with other departments, such as programs and finance, is crucial to ensure alignment and support for fundraising initiatives.

Within the development team, specific roles are identified and assigned, with individuals taking ownership of lead prospect activity, tracking progress, and reporting results. Additionally, the team supports and guides leaders in their development roles, facilitating their success in engaging potential donors.

Leverage Your Board and Volunteers to Propel Your Development Strategy

Board members and volunteer leaders are also integral to the process, contributing their awareness of the development strategy, providing approval for key staffing or budget changes, and advocating for the nonprofit’s mission. They can also be invaluable in growing a nonprofit’s donor pipeline. Their involvement in fundraising activities, tailored to their interests, skills, and networks, further enhances major gift activation success.

Engage Your External Partners in Fundraising Messaging

Beyond these internal stakeholders, external partnerships are also vital, as these can provide input on messaging, help gain permission for story or picture sharing, and give insights into the key community leaders and prospects shaping the overall major gift strategy.

diversify your revenue with Gift Planning

A planned gift is an anticipated or deferred contribution of cash or other assets strategically made within the context of a donor’s broader financial, tax, or estate planning objectives. These gifts can take various forms and may be facilitated through various financial vehicles.

Gift planning is a good decision for donors for several reasons:

  • Most wealth is not typically held in cash.
  • Individuals are often more inclined to donate from irregular or unearned sources of income, such as appreciated assets, rather than from regular earnings.
  • The rising popularity of donor advised funds underscores the importance of strategic gift planning in modern philanthropy.
  • Planned gifts offer various tax incentives.
  • Bequests are ideal for individuals with substantial estates (valued over $13.6 million in 2024), as such estates are subject to federal taxes; however, bequests in cash or other assets, such as real estate, vehicles, or stocks, can be deducted from the estate’s total value, consequently mitigating federal estate taxes for the donor’s beneficiaries.
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT) are tax-exempt and reduce a donor’s taxable income.
  • For real estate gifts, donors acquire an income tax deduction equivalent to the property’s value while evading capital gains taxes.
  • In certain instances, donors aged 70 and a half or older have the option to contribute Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from their IRAs, enabling them to make tax-free donations while fulfilling their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) obligations (note that these regulations change frequently).

Factors Contributing to Increased Gift Planning

Several factors contribute to gift planning’s growing prevalence, including the ongoing wealth transfer, the pandemic’s transformative effects on charitable giving, increasing sophistication among nonprofits and donors in navigating philanthropic strategies, and an enhanced opportunity for cultivating a culture prioritizing thoughtful and impactful gift planning initiatives.


A capital campaign is a pivotal strategy to enhance major gift fundraising through organization, urgency, and focus. Campaigns offer a structured approach to achieving strategic priorities while catalyzing fundraising efforts and elevating a principal gift portfolio. Further, they are a chance to strengthen and expand donor relationships and cultivate a more robust prospect pool while also developing a stronger board and volunteer leadership base. Additionally, campaigns raise awareness and elevate the organization’s profile within the community and region, further strengthening its impact and reach.

Remaining Agile will help you Increase and Diversify your nonprofit’s Revenue

Adopting strategies to boost revenue is essential to ensure your nonprofit’s long-term growth, financial strength, and flexibility in a changing environment. Whether building stronger donor connections, further utilizing technology, or forming new partnerships, the path to financial stability involves constant innovation aligned with your organization’s goals. By applying these approaches to increase revenue, your nonprofit can thrive and increase its ability to make a real impact.

More Insights


Proposals That Stand Out: Adding Financial Illustrations to Blended Gift Requests

April 25, 2024 | 1PM ET / 10AM PT

Seeking gift strategies and tips for building effective proposals? Join CCS Fundraising’s upcoming webinar!


Your Fundraising Forecast Template for 2024

March 28, 2024

Projecting fundraising revenue can always feel daunting, especially during economic and political uncertainty. CCS Fundraising is here to help you plan for 2024 and beyond with tactical guidance and a downloadable fundraising revenue forecast template.

The status of fundraising events as giving vehicles may have started shifting in recent years. According to the 2024 CCS Philanthropy Pulse, events are in slight decline as a source of fundraising dollars despite the proficiency of fundraising staff in event planning, and inviting current donors to regular in-person events is the second highest-ranked tactic for donor retention.

While the immediate return on investment of fundraising events may be hard to see, they can undoubtedly strengthen bonds between an organization, its stakeholders, and its current and prospective donor pool. A successful fundraising event depends on effective planning and execution. Whether your organization is considering a new event or reevaluating the efficacy of a recurring one, consider the following tips for your fundraising success.

1. Identify and articulate the goal of your fundraising event

Hosting a fundraising event without a clear purpose can be a trap. While your constituency may love annual events, these can also become unmanageable for an organization, so it’s important to identify your event’s exact purpose and determine its success metrics. Your goals must be specific, measurable, and ongoing.

While raising awareness for your cause or mission might seem like a logical goal, it’s not specific enough to measure success. Setting more precise objectives, such as showcasing a new or existing facility’s capabilities, broadening the reach of your communication platforms, or fostering dialogue between stakeholders and experts, allows you to assess your event’s impact more effectively.

You can measure your event’s success by establishing activation points—where attendees derive value from your event—as you design or evaluate your event. Activation points may include when attendees:

  • Contribute gifts of any size during your event.
  • Elect to receive correspondence from your organization.
  • Purchase event-branded merchandise.
  • Post to social media using an event-specific hashtag or photos.

Establishing activation points makes it easier to demonstrate your event’s utility for your organization and note what improvements are needed in future iterations.

2. ask good questions ahead of your fundraising event

If your fundraising event aims to engage with a specific community, use this group to refine your event. Consider interviewing a key group of individuals about what would motivate them to attend and engage with your organization further. A widely shared survey can also help inform how to create a successful event, but be mindful of question design—open-ended questions can produce more nuanced opinions, but the answers are more challenging to synthesize on a larger scale. Spend time considering what information would be most useful rather than most interesting. Asking survey participants what event type they would be most excited to attend, what specific factors prevent their attendance, or what offerings would appeal most can give you more actionable insights from your intended audience.

3. Assemble your dream team to plan and run the event

Creating the right group is crucial for designing and implementing any fundraising event. While there is no formula for determining your event committee’s right size and makeup, at the very least, you should assemble a group who can collectively contribute the following:

  • A complete understanding of your event’s goal and alignment with your organization’s mission.
  • A robust understanding of the regional and, ideally, national event landscape.
  • Personal and professional connections with individuals or organizations who can help execute or elevate your event.
  • A total understanding of the commitment level necessary to implement the event.
  • A willingness to participate in the event and engage others to do so.

As you create your list of individuals you would like to invite to be on your committee, remember the following:

Inside -> Out. Top -> Down.

Start with individuals within your organization you want to include and invite your highest priority members to the committee first. This will start your committee with those already aligned with your mission and allow you to accommodate higher-priority committee prospects.

4. design your fundraising event with intention

Whether creating a new fundraising event from scratch or reevaluating an existing one, create a detailed list of relevant events in your organization’s region to help you quickly determine if certain event types are overrepresented in your community or where new opportunities may exist.

Collect information on events that might compete with you directly or indirectly. Professional or collegiate sports may not seem to interfere with the success of a gala or charity auction, but if they are sure to generate traffic or monopolize hotel rooms nearby, you should consider them while picking a date. You will also want to consider the scale of events as you create your list—one month may only have a few events taking place, but if they are larger, it may be more detrimental than a month with several smaller events.

Make Your Event Unique

As you design your event, consider substantive ways to make it unique, especially if similar events occur in your region. A specific theme or unique location is a great way to make your event stand out. Be sure to avoid confusing a unique event for an overly complicated one. Including too many components to stand out can soon make your event unwieldy and likely less cost-effective. It is good to be ambitious with new events, but it is essential to leave room to grow.

Throughout the design process, ensure the event aligns with your organization’s mission. An elaborate event can engage the public, but if it contrasts with your organization’s mission, you risk alienating your stakeholders.

4. engage your leadership in the fundraising event

Engage your organization’s leadership to participate in your fundraising event as early as possible. As soon as you have a date, ensure it’s on their calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts. Encourage them to invite guests who might elevate the event. If you are aware of personal or professional connections they may have with potential sponsors or organizations that would be valuable partners for your event, solicit them to set up an introduction.

As the date approaches, provide your leadership team with a simple bullet-pointed memo outlining answers to attendees’ potential questions, necessary event details, exciting developments within your organization, or relevant milestones. If leadership is engaged effectively, they can bolster the return on investment of your event and facilitate touchpoints with prospective donors.

6. Remember post-event engagement

Extend your fundraising event production timeline beyond the event to maximize its value. Develop a post-event communication plan throughout the event design process and share it in advance so all relevant parties know what is expected of them. Check in with all staff and committee members for feedback on their experience. If there were relevant interactions with prospective or current donors during the event, ensure they have been documented for your development team. Distribute personalized thank you messages promptly after the event to express gratitude and share the event’s successes. Assemble the event committee and discuss the successes, challenges, and necessary changes that must be considered for the next iteration.

A Thoughtfully Planned fundraising Event Can Engage New Donors and Ignite Current Donors

Fundraising events allow new and prospective donors to learn more about your nonprofit’s mission and impact. Even as new fundraising initiatives emerge, events will likely remain a popular engagement tactic. Implement our six tips to ensure your event’s success.

Building trust in your college or university is more important than ever to maintain giving levels. Public trust in educational institutions is declining overall. Political polarization continues to heighten leading up to the US presidential election, which can be a recipe for increased criticism and controversy. Higher education institutions are not immune, as evidenced by the recent congressional hearing and subsequent resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania’s Liz Magill. Confidence in higher education has declined steadily over the past decade, with 57% expressing a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in 2015, compared to 48% in 2018 and 36% in 2023.

Your college or university can’t control the volatile tides of politics or public opinion, but you can control how you communicate and engage your constituents to uphold your brand. We have outlined three guiding principles to help you build trust in your higher education institution and maintain fundraising.

1. Focus on your college or university’s impact

Revisit your higher education institution’s mission and strategic plans and take an inventory of your communication and marketing pieces. Are you telling a consistent story about your impact on students, alums, and the broader community? Do these align with your stated vision?

Get clear on your value proposition. What sets your institution apart? These differentiators are important for enrollment and fundraising. Feature stories of students, faculty, successful alums, innovative programs, and leading research. Gather and share data validating your impact (e.g., job placement rates, percent of students receiving scholarships or grants, participation rates in unique experiential learning opportunities). Use all communications channels (e.g., website, social media, direct mail, e-newsletters) to cohesively share these stories to provide proof of your positive impact. It’s hard for critics to argue with specific stories of impact backed by data.

In addition to protecting and promoting your brand, impact stories inspire higher giving levels. The number one donor motivation is the perceived or real impact of their gift. Fold this into your stewardship practices to ensure that your donors can see how they support your mission in specific and tangible ways.

2. Proactively engage your college or university’s audiences

In many public relations crises, a common misstep is poorly timed communication. Information can be leaked and misconstrued by the media to create controversy. A preventative approach to avoid this is regular, proactive outreach to your constituents to keep them apprised of your unfolding initiatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic opened new and creative ways of engaging with constituents virtually. You can continue to leverage this technology to share key updates and invite conversations with alums, donors, parents, and the broader community. What in-person and virtual events does your institution offer throughout the year? Are you reaching all your key constituents? Might there be an opportunity to offer a webinar in which the president or key campus leaders provide updates?

When your board is considering key policy decisions, think through:

  • Who might have a stake in this policy or decision?
  • What information or context can we share in advance to foster understanding?
  • What is the right sequence for rolling this out, and to whom?

If you need additional support, have PR firm(s) in your back pocket. You can consult with your marketing or public relations team and/or contact peer institutions to gather information on firms they may have used.

3. Empower your volunteer leaders as school ambassadors

Your college/university’s board members and other volunteer leaders are your strongest advocates. Equip them with stories and proof points they can easily share with their families, colleagues, and peers. This will amplify and provide credibility to your positive messaging efforts.

Gather quotes, video testimonials, or develop stories around these volunteer leaders to illustrate their commitment and confidence in the institution. As alums, donors, and community leaders, your volunteers exemplify your institution’s impact. Showcase their accomplishments and tie this back to their experience at your college/university. You might consider capturing their responses to the following questions to ensure fundraising trust:

  • How did their time on campus set them up for success?
  • How does it continue to impact their life?
  • What motivates them to give back?

Thoughtful Donor Engagement Builds Trust in and Credibility for your college or university

It is a challenging time for higher education amid declining public trust and increased political polarization. Fundraising professionals at colleges or universities can successfully navigate these challenges by consistently promoting positive impact stories, engaging proactively with donors and the wider community, and empowering volunteer leaders as advocates. These three guiding principles will help to maintain fundraising momentum while strengthening the trust and support of your biggest school advocates over the long term.

More Insights


Your Guide to Increasing and Diversifying Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Revenue

April 19, 2024

Today’s nonprofits need to increase and diversify their revenue streams for sustainability. This article will help you learn how to make the most of your fundraising efforts.


6 Fundraising Event Tips Your Nonprofit Needs Today

April 18, 2024

Fundraising events can bolster your nonprofit’s giving strategy if you plan and execute them effectively. Drive donor engagement, retention, and, ultimately, giving to your organization with our fundraising event tips.

SEE ALL IN: Higher Education

Noncash assets are proven to be directly tied to organizational growth. Learn effective ways to include them in your proposals and how to confidently discuss their benefits with your donors and prospects so that you can secure transformational gifts for your organization.

Join CCS for this free webinar where our Gift Planning Practice Group members Christianna Robertson and Hannah Yaritz help you understand how gift of noncash assets impact organizational growth and show you how to add illustrations to your blended gift proposals—with and without software.


Hannah Yaritz

Hannah Yaritz

Senior Vice President

Christianna Robertson

Christianna Robertson

Senior Vice President

Over the past few decades, many corporations have broadened their focus from optimizing profits to include social impact.

Today, corporations recognize the importance of aligning values, corporate culture, and their brand with the holistic needs and interests of stakeholders. This shift is evident as many corporations move from making small donations supporting many causes to adopting a purpose-driven approach emphasizing tangible impact. Increasingly, what a corporation chooses to support is closely linked to the causes and concerns that its customers, employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders care about.

Notably, the health and human services sectors have emerged as significant beneficiaries, receiving 26% of all corporate donations over a two-decade span, making them the predominant recipients of such contributions. Understanding the underlying motivations will help your organization navigate the competitive and ever-expanding landscape of corporate philanthropy and develop a sustainable corporate philanthropy program.

In this article, we share steps to uncover these motivations and guide you through building a robust pipeline of corporate prospects, cultivating meaningful relationships, crafting tailored proposals, and implementing a powerful and sustainable corporate philanthropy program.

How Corporations Give

Companies tend to give back to the community in a variety of ways, including:

Company-Sponsored Foundation/Community Grants

Larger companies may have a private foundation linked to their business and aligned with the company’s mission. Gifts are made through a formalized grantmaking application process. Company-sponsored foundations often focus on the geographic areas in which the company is located, the emerging needs of that market, and key priorities or constituent groups that align with the mission.

Matching Gifts

Many companies offer to financially match donations that are contributed by their employees to a nonprofit. The matching ratio will vary per company—from 1:1 up to 4:1. You may find Double the Donation helpful as a matching gift tool for your nonprofit.

Corporate Sponsorships

Corporate sponsorships are a common type of support that nonprofits can receive from a new corporate partner. These sponsorships are typically associated with a form of recognition at a special event or program depending on the gift level.

Employee Volunteer Grants

For employees who give their time back to local nonprofits, some companies award volunteer grants directly to the nonprofit each year based on the number of hours an employee volunteered.

Build a robust pipeline

A sustainable corporate philanthropy program hinges on developing a robust pipeline of qualified prospects to ensure a continual source of substantial funding. It’s imperative to strategically identify corporations aligning with your organization’s mission and values; you might identify organizations whose mandate and interests focus on improving outcomes for vulnerable and underserved populations that overlap with your mission. Utilize existing databases and resources that monitor and track businesses based on geographic areas. Create a list of 10 to 15 well-respected companies in the local community that you want to build a relationship with. Start with the “About” page on the company’s website and branch out from there.

Consider the following questions:

  • What are the company’s goals, vision, and values? How do they align with your mission?
  • What community issues touch their business?
  • Who from the organization could be a good first contact? Consider a member of the CSR team, Foundation team, community engagement, etc.
  • What is the company’s CSR strategy or giving focus areas?
  • Has the company been in the news recently for a philanthropic investment? If so, what organizations are they supporting and at what level?

Understand Corporate Motivations

Understanding the underlying motivations that drive a corporation’s philanthropic efforts allows you to adapt your fundraising approach accordingly. Corporations are often motivated by marketing and brand alignment or employee satisfaction. Delving into their corporate landscape—including the impact on employees, customers, and stakeholders—offers invaluable insights and a high-level understanding of their values and how they may be philanthropically motivated.

Look at Yourself From Their Perspective

As you seek to uncover corporate prospects, it is equally important to consider how these corporate prospects perceive your organization. There can often be a lack of understanding about why an organization needs philanthropic support. Highlight how philanthropy impacts programs and services and tell that story of impact clearly and compellingly.

Identify and Connect

Next, explore existing connections to key decision-makers within your target corporations. Networking is a valuable tool for accessing and establishing initial contact. Identify individuals who bridge, facilitate introductions, and open doors—personal connections enhance the credibility of your approach.

The power of volunteers to amplify your prospect identification efforts cannot be overstated. Volunteers, including board members and other stakeholders, can play a pivotal role in identifying organizations whose business interests intersect with the populations positively impacted by your services. Their insights and networks expand the reach of your prospect identification process.

These steps culminate in a prospect pipeline that transcends wishful thinking and becomes meaningful and measurable. This comprehensive approach ensures that your identification efforts engage corporations with a capacity that aligns closely with your mission, values, and impact objectives.

Cultivating Strategies for Corporate Philanthropy

Cultivation is not a linear process but a strategic journey to foster genuine connections and long-term partnerships built on mutual trust. Cultivation moves the prospect closer to a successful gift request and creates a relationship founded on shared values and purpose.

To embark on this journey, gather historical and relevant information before creating a cultivation strategy. It is common to see organizations collaborating with corporations across various dimensions like sponsorship, vendor relationships, community engagement, marketing, and media relations. Consult your organization’s compliance and legal departments to ensure an approach doesn’t trigger conflicts of interest. Understanding the breadth of any existing or anticipated corporate partnership or relationship is important before establishing a cultivation strategy.

Initiate this process by identifying the 6Rs of cultivation.

Right prospectRight purposeRight amountRight
Right solicitorRelevant factors or interests

This framework forms the foundation of a cultivation strategy. Invite subject matter experts and intentionally engage them during the cultivation process. If your corporate partner is enthusiastic about a particular service line or program, engage critical stakeholders or volunteers to answer questions and provide additional context.

Preparing for the request

If your organization has multiple locations or member organizations, consider creating one comprehensive approach for each corporate partner to eliminate internal competition and provide a unified and comprehensive request.

In the intricate dance of corporate philanthropy, crafting a proposal is more than a transaction; it is an art form that requires insight and strategic finesse. The pivotal precursor to unveiling your proposal is the briefing meeting, an opportunity to test the ask and gain a nuanced understanding of donor interests.

The briefing meeting is not just a formality but a strategic move to gauge the donor’s level of interest and specific goals. It serves as a crucial checkpoint to avoid surprises when the proposal arrives. From estimating capacity, preferred timing, and understanding their decision-making process, the timing of their budgetary process, and the insights gathered during the meeting pave the way for a timely, uniquely personal, and tailored proposal for your prospect.

Questions to keep in mind as you approach the request include:

  • Is there an application process?
  • Who are the decision-makers?
  • Does a request need to be presented to a board?
  • Is the corporation a local entity of a larger corporation? If so, which are we approaching?

The proposal

Proposals are personalized invitations to a collaborative partnership that creates real impact. Enriched by insights from the briefing meeting, the tailored pitch transforms a generic proposal into an inspiring and collaborative venture—a journey both parties embark on with a shared purpose.

A compelling proposal is a narrative that paints a vivid picture of long-term impact. It provides a detailed overview of the mission, clearly identifying the problem and conveying the consequences of inaction. It also clearly articulates the long-term vision, illustrating how the gift will contribute to achieving these objectives and making a tangible difference.

In personalized storytelling, it is often more compelling to “show” than to “tell.” A winning proposal often will captivate its audience by demonstrating the impact that can be achieved through investment, going beyond abstract ideas to share proof of concept instead. Acknowledging your corporate partner and their values, a strong proposal goes beyond a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and can highlight a deep understanding of their unique identity and aspirations.

Stewarding Corporate Relationships

Stewardship is essential to retaining and strengthening relationships with corporate donors. Collaborate closely with your corporate partners to create a stewardship plan meaningful to them. Whether they prefer impact reports, leadership updates, or in-person meetings, it is important not to apply a blanket approach to stewarding these relationships.

corporate fundraising is an investment—but it’s worth it!

Securing major gifts from corporations is about fostering enduring partnerships that create real impact. From building a robust pipeline to impactful recognition, each step contributes to a shared vision of positive change.

In this dynamic and competitive landscape of philanthropy, each step is a commitment to exploring a partnership model to its fullest. Transformative gifts from corporations are increasingly possible but require earnest planning and strategic thought. Investment in people and processes can move your organization from transactional small investments to transformative, long-term alliances that propel your growth.

Forecasting fundraising revenue can be difficult in any given year, especially in 2024, as the economy fluctuates and a presidential election looms. Amid so much uncertainty about the future, it helps to center your forecasting exercises around the following fundamental principles using our downloadable fundraising revenue forecast template.

  • With so much unknown, focus on what you do know. As fundraisers, what we know is our donors—we know who they are, how they’ve given, and when they’ve given. We can use this information to make educated assumptions about how they might give next year.
  • Focus on the funding sources disproportionately impacting the total funds raised. The Pareto Principle applies to many nonprofits, where 80-90% of funds come from 10-20% of donors. If you can understand what this top percentage of donors gives, you can better understand the following year’s fundraising revenue.

Combine our template with the following tips to develop your 2024 fundraising strategies.

Step 1: Get the Lay of the Land

Before making fundraising revenue projections, set yourself up for success by looking at the following resources.

Historic Philanthropic and Fundraising Data

It can be helpful to get an idea of the broader philanthropic landscape for overall giving statistics while keeping in mind that donors continue giving generously despite fluctuating economies. Further, Giving USA projects that total giving will increase in 2024 and 2025. It’s helpful to have this information as a backdrop for your projections.

If you’re on a computer, click on the three ellipses below and then the desktop icon to expand the graph. If you’re on your phone, pinch to zoom in and out.

Similarly, you should spend significant time understanding your own fundraising and donor dataWe recommend starting with these basics, but you can pull additional pertinent information into your projections.

Year-Over-Year Total Funds Raised for at Least the Past Five Years

This data around your year-over-year revenue for the previous five years helps you understand your baseline. If you have data going back further than five years, that’s even better for forecasting purposes.

Top Current and Potential Donors and Their Giving Histories

Compile a list of donors (individuals, corporations, and foundations) with the potential to give $10,000 or more in 2024, including prospects who have given $5,000 or more in the past, along with high-scoring donors from your wealth screening ratings.

Subtotals by Method and Revenue Stream

To understand your revenue, look at the funds received by each method. Your revenue streams may include major gift solicitations, online fundraising, direct mail, or grant applications.

Last Year’s Gift

List the number of donors at each giving level in this chart, as a historic gift table is key to understanding your revenue breakdown.

Step 2: forecast revenue from Top Donors

Once you have your data, focus on predicting revenue from your top donor group. Remember, your best prospects are those who have already given generously to your organization.

Set Up a Tracking Worksheet

Given the importance of these few donors, track every top donor by name using the first tab of our fundraising revenue forecast template. This worksheet will allow you to note each donor’s historical giving, what you plan to ask them for in 2024, and what you think they’ll donate.

If you’re on a computer, click on the three ellipses below and then the desktop icon to expand the table. If you’re on your phone, pinch to zoom in and out.

Note: The data in the table below is fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.

Estimate Each Donor’s 2024 Gift

Remember that what you expect a donor to give differs from the amount you ask for. We recommend being conservative with gift projections but optimistic with request amounts. Fluctuating economic conditions don’t mean you can’t aim high and be bold in gift requests—your mission is always important. Still, it’s best to be conservative in estimating a likely 2024 gift.

  • To start, look at the donor’s past giving and recent behavior.
  • Consider your organization’s “batting average” for gift requests. Historically, how much did funders give compared to what was asked of them?
  • Use research resources like wealth screening tools WealthEngine or iWave to gain context on a prospect’s financial capacity. Or reach out to us about our data analytics services that layer wealth screening results with custom affinity models to provide you with the most accurate estimates and precise insights.

Have a Personal Conversation with a Top Donor

Remember that the best indicators of what a donor might give come from personal conversations with the donor. Calling your top donors to check in is a great stewardship practice. During these calls, you can deduce the donor’s giving potential for the upcoming year. Additionally, these conversations can set up the next step: scheduling a solicitation meeting.

Step 3: Make a Plan for Each fundraising Revenue Stream

Once you have established projections for your top donors, it’s time to look at other fundraising revenue streams. Tab two of our fundraising revenue forecast template will help you track this information. For each revenue stream, look back at its past performance at your organization, then combine that organizational information with current industry trends.

Note: The data in the table below is fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.

Below are some overall trends we see. Remember that these trends are not universal for all organizations—even organizations of similar missions, sizes, and locations see their fundraising evolve uniquely.

Individual Major Gifts and Foundations

Giving by individuals remains the largest source of philanthropy in the US, and according to The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 & 2025, individual/household giving is predicted to increase by 2.6% in 2024 and by 3.4% in 2025.

Corporate Giving

Corporate philanthropy has remained steady in the last few years despite a fluctuating economy, the pandemic, and various worldwide crises. Growth of the Gross Domestic Product, a strong labor market, and low unemployment have strengthened this fundraising area, and corporate giving is predicted to increase by 1.9% in 2024 and by 2.6% in 2025, although these numbers are predicted to be below the historical 10-year, 25-year, and 40-year annualized average growth rates for this sector.

Direct Mail

Direct mail remains an effective fundraising strategy, with almost half of the surveyed organizations in the 2024 Philanthropy Pulse citing direct mailings as a donor engagement tactic. We suggest projecting flat or slightly increased totals here.

Online Giving

Digital giving has been trending up, as evidenced by the 63% of donors who prefer to give online via credit or debit card. We suggest projecting a mild increase, especially if your organization is undertaking digital marketing campaigns and harnessing events like #GivingTuesday.

Special Events

We advise being conservative with estimates around this engagement strategy, even though events are still a top donor retention strategy for 71% of nonprofits.


Although bequest giving has declined recently, it remains a widely used gifting vehicle. Therefore, it’s best to plan conservatively.

Non-Bequest Planned Gifts

These gift types may see an increase. For example, donor-advised funds (DAFs) are on the rise, and The Philanthropic Trust estimates that DAFs now hold assets upward of $228 billion. We would therefore advise planning for an increase in non-bequest planned gifts in 2024.

Step 4: Put It All Together in a Gift Table

Next, use tab three of our fundraising revenue forecast template to bring all these data points together on your gifts table.

If you’re on a computer, click on the three ellipses below and then the desktop icon to expand the table. If you’re on your phone, pinch to zoom in and out.

Note: The data in the table below is fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.

The example above shows that most funds (95%) are projected to come from 12 donors. If we focus on accurately projecting these 12 donors’ gifts and making sure these gift projections come to fruition, we’ll be in good shape for 2024. Of course, we still need to get direct mail out the door, launch our online appeals, and fulfill the rest of our fundraising plans, but the bulk of our focus should be on the top part of this gift table.

Step 5: Turn Your Plan into Action

Now, it’s time to determine how to make your gift projections a reality. Tab four of our fundraising revenue forecast template will help plot out your projections month by month.

Keep This in Mind When Building Your Fundraising Revenue Timeline

  • For top donors, the next gift will often be a year out from their last gift. For foundations, the foundation granting cycle will inform timing.
  • You can also plot out the dates of your direct mail appeals and big online giving campaigns, so you know when to expect surges in revenue from these sources.
  • Plotting out sources like bequests is difficult, but most of your revenue should be anticipated in the chart.

Our fundraising revenue timeline template, as shown in the example below, helps you compare projections versus reality. You’ll know early on if you were too conservative or optimistic in your projections. After reviewing your progress, you can adjust your projections for the remainder of the year as appropriate.

If you’re on a computer, click on the three ellipses below and then the desktop icon to expand the table. If you’re on your phone, pinch to zoom in and out.

Note: The data in the table below is fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.

Tips for Successful Fundraising Predictions

Keep the following principles in mind as you continue planning for 2024 and adjusting your course as the year progresses.

  • Take time to pull and organize data and look at key trends.
  • Focus on your top donors.
  • Be optimistic with gift requests but conservative in projections.
  • Lay your projections on a timeline so you can adjust in real time.

Happy forecasting!

Planning for the future of your organization’s fundraising?

CCS offers a suite of services related to organizational planning and fundraising strategy.

CCS Fundraising is excited to share The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 & 2025 report. This publication, researched and written by the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, forecasts the giving environment of the next few years, focusing on the notable trends nonprofit practitioners will likely see in the space. In addition to exploring the economic variables impacting philanthropy, this data-driven report projects total giving and giving by all four donor sources, including households, foundations, estates, and corporations.

The cover page of The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 & 2025, which includes an image of person looking confidently ahead in an urban landscape.

Most notably, the study found that charitable giving is expected to grow in 2024 and 2025—both overall and for each source:

  • Total charitablegiving is expected to rise above the historical 10-year, 25-year, and 40-year annualized average rates of growth in both 2024 and 2025.
  • Giving by households is predicted to grow but will trail the rate of growth for total giving.
  • Giving by foundations is expected to experience strong growth, outpacing growth rates for total giving in 2024 and 2025.
  • Giving by estates is anticipated to experience stronger growth in 2025, rising above the historical 10-year, 25-year, and 40-year annualized average rates of growth.
  • Giving by corporations is also projected to grow but will lag historic rates of growth for this sector.

For an engaging discussion on takeaways from the report with esteemed industry panelists in finance, nonprofit fundraising, and philanthropy, explore our Philanthropy and Economic Outlook webinar.

More Insights


Philanthropy and Economic Outlook Webinar

March 12, 2024

The economy’s impact on philanthropy is one of the most pressing topics for nonprofit leaders today. Plan your organization’s fundraising with confidence by with this on-demand video.


Charitable Giving During Presidential Elections

February 23, 2024

As we approach the 2024 US presidential election, many nonprofit professionals wonder if and how politics will affect this year’s charitable giving landscape. Read on as we examine research that helps us understand the relationship between nonprofit fundraising and political giving.


CCS Philanthropy Pulse

February 15, 2024

The 2024 CCS Philanthropy Pulse report serves as a guide for fundraisers, offering insights into the modern strategies nonprofits employ for development and highlighting avenues for fundraising success.

New York, NY – CCS Fundraising, a leader in nonprofit fundraising and strategic consulting, is thrilled to announce the promotion of five new Partners. These elevations are reflective of decades-long careers of client impact and reflect CCS’s ongoing commitment to recognizing talent, dedication, and expertise within its leadership team.

Adam Miller, Aashika Patel, Natalie Skinner, Ian Swedish, and Kate Villa have been instrumental in driving fundraising success and lasting community impact for CCS clients, and their contributions have been invaluable to the firm.

Adam Miller is a leader in providing strategic guidance to national and international nonprofits across all sectors, designing innovative fundraising initiatives, directing extraordinary campaigns, and advising on resource development models. He is an expert in board engagement, campaign methodology, principal and major gift strategies, growth and sustainability planning, among others. His engagement as a presenter at global development conferences and as a published author in numerous journals and business publications has helped both his clients and the firm achieve transformative impact. Adam earned a JD from Loyola University Chicago and a BA from Indiana University.

Aashika Patel brings over 12 years of fundraising experience working with CCS, supporting clients with financial targets totaling over $1 billion. Guided by measurable, actionable plans, Aashika leverages fundraising strategy, data analytics, staffing assessments, pipeline development, and leadership engagement to grow fundraising capacity for nonprofits across every philanthropic sector. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and South Asian Studies from Syracuse University and holds a master’s degree in Fundraising and Grantmaking from New York University.

Natalie Skinner joined CCS in 2011 and has since conducted numerous capital campaigns, feasibility and planning studies, development assessments, annual fund enhancements, strategic plans, and special development projects that cumulatively raised more than $1 billion for her clients, including multiple $100 million gifts. Her expertise and strategic insights have played a pivotal role in optimizing fundraising efforts for nonprofits across various sectors and won her recognition with the Dennick M. W. Skeels Memorial Award for her work in CCS’s Mid- and South-Atlantic Region. Natalie earned her Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from University of Delaware.

Ian Swedish has been a key member of CCS for over 14 years, counseling nonprofit clients in strategic planning initiatives, feasibility analysis, data analytics, capital campaigns, and broad scale plan activation. His work spans organizations that are regional, national, and global in scale across all philanthropic sectors. He maintains a deep skillset in both data and fundraising strategy and was instrumental in standing up a data analytics shared service line for the firm. Ian holds an MBA and MPP from the Ross School of Business and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a BA from the University of Vermont.

Kate Villa has been helping to design, plan, and implement successful fundraising campaigns for more than 25 years. She excels at creating and executing campaign plans that connect donors’ passions with projects that change the world. Her expertise in comprehensive campaign design and management, planning studies, assessments, and leading staff and volunteer teams to develop tailored strategies to achieve ambitious fundraising goals have consistently contributed to the growth and success of CCS’s clients. Kate graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Columbia University.

“I am excited to see Adam, Aashika, Natalie, Ian, and Kate elevated to the role of Partner,” said CCS Fundraising CEO, Jon Kane. “Their dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to our clients exemplify CCS’s values. I’m confident that they will continue to drive transformational change and make a lasting impact in their new roles.”

These promotions come at an exciting time for CCS Fundraising as the firm continues to expand its reach and impact in the nonprofit sector. With the addition of these five partners, CCS strengthens its position as the world’s leading fundraising and strategic consulting firm.

About CCS Fundraising

CCS Fundraising is a strategic consulting firm that has partnered with nonprofits for transformational change for more than 75 years. CCS provides various services to support and strengthen nonprofit fundraising programs, including campaign management, strategic planning, data analytics, gift planning, systems and change management, and major gift strategy. The firm’s expert consultants, skilled in campaign and development strategy, work closely with organizations of all sizes across nonprofit sectors and geographies.

For more information on CCS Fundraising, please visit

In this CCS Fundraising webinar, we preview findings from the upcoming Philanthropy Outlook 2024-2025 report, researched and written by the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Together with our esteemed industry panelists in finance, nonprofit fundraising, and philanthropy, we explore the realities of today’s philanthropic and economic outlook and how Americans continue giving generously.


Dr. Michael Lomax

Dr. Michael Lomax

Chief Executive Officer

United Negro College Fund
Chris Hyzy

Chris Hyzy

Chief Investment Officer

Bank of America
Jeff Erdmann

Jeff Erdmann

Managing Director and Private Wealth Advisor

Merrill Lynch
Dr. Anna Pruitt

Dr. Anna Pruitt

Managing Editor, Giving USA

IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Sarah Krasin

Sarah Krasin

Managing Director

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do growth projections in The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 account for inflation?

Yes, growth projection values in the report are all in real or inflation-adjusted terms.

Does the Foundation growth projected in the report include Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) and private family foundations?

Giving from private family foundations is included under giving from foundations in The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025. DAF giving, however, is included under individual giving.

Does the report consider the upcoming US presidential election?

The report does not include the 2024 US presidential election as a factor in its projections, as presidential elections have historically not significantly affected charitable giving in aggregate. Learn more about trends in giving around presidential elections in CCS’s article “Charitable Giving During Presidential Elections.”

Does the report consider increasingly concentrated wealth in the US?

The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 accounts for all giving, including outlier giving from high net-worth individuals, and focuses on aggregates, not averages. While we know that concentrated wealth greatly affects giving, exactly how is unclear.

Is an increase in donors the biggest factor in the projected growth in household giving, or are large gifts the biggest factor?

The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 does not consider the number of donors and individual gift amounts and only projects aggregate growth rates. However, the number of donors to nonprofits has trended down over time, so it is unlikely to be a growth driver in 2024 and 2025 giving.

Does the report’s projected Household growth account for generational wealth transfers?

The model used to forecast estate growth in The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 does not have a variable that directly measures the impact of generational wealth transfers. However, historical trends in the report will likely capture the impact of a Great Wealth Transfer when it occurs. If they cannot capture impact in the short term, the model (which the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy optimizes each year based on predictive value) may contain a death rate or similar variable in future report editions.

Does the report include household/individual projections by sector?

It does not. The aggregate amount of donations received by each nonprofit sector tends to be more variable year-over-year, affected by complex factors, and is more challenging to project accurately.

Does the report differentiate individual giving by donors who itemize and donors who don’t, or high-net-worth individuals?

The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 does not differentiate between itemized and non-itemized individual giving. However, it bases its individual giving data on the 2023 Giving USA report, which does differentiate itemized and non-itemized individual giving. Additionally, The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 report model does include the number of itemizers as a variable but does not project the amount of giving that will come from households of specific demographics or wealth levels.

Does the report’s projected corporate growth consider the negative impact of climate change?

The report only considers climate change’s negative impact implicitly through historical data and recent trends.

What are the current giving trends in the US?

CCS’s 2023 Philanthropic Landscape report compiles and analyzes the most recent data on giving from across industry sources. We recommend viewing it along with the CCS 2024 Philanthropy Pulse report for the latest data on nonprofit fundraising trends.

Is giving in the US down overall for 2022 and 2023?

Giving total adjustments are usually made based on inflation activity and the availability of additional giving data. While giving in 2022 has initially been reported to total $499.33 billion — a decline of $17.32 billion from 2021’s record-setting giving — comparing 2022’s initially-reported giving total to 2021’s pre-adjusted, initially-reported giving total of $484 billion suggests that charitable giving actually increased by 3%. Giving USA will share 2023’s total giving in the summer of 2024.

Why does the report project giving in 2025 to double giving in 2024?

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds that many economic indicators for estate giving lag a year behind. With consumer sentiment and net worth projected to grow even more in 2024 than in 2023, estate growth rates in 2025 will grow even more than in 2024.

Were any projections made for philanthropy in 2022 or 2023? If so, how accurate were the projections?

As The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 report is the first of its kind, CCS Fundraising and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy did not make any projections for previous years. However, the methodology in the Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 has been rigorously tested. Additionally, CCS will release a 2nd edition of the report in 2027.

Given the growth rate of foundations, what will be the top three areas of giving from foundations in 2024 and 2025?

While top areas of giving from foundations are not a component of The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025 report, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy does not anticipate foundation grant-making to diverge too significantly in the short term compared to the recent past. Eventually, giving from foundations may shift more significantly, but probably not in the next two years.

Will nonprofits benefit from the Great Wealth Transfer if it occurs as the philanthropic sector anticipates?

It is unclear where money from the Boomers will go as they transfer it to the younger generations. Often, donors give large bequests to foundations or other grantmaking institutions, so nonprofits may not immediately benefit from the Great Wealth Transfer but will likely experience a future boon.

How do foundations determine their level of giving?

While each foundation is different, grantmaking from foundations generally follows the market (with a slight lag), as investments often form their asset base. Most foundations grant approximately the required 5% of assets annually, though the amount can be calculated over a three-year rolling investment performance period.

Will consumer prices be impacted by lowering inflation?

At the time of the Philanthropy and Economic Outlook webinar, consumer prices seem to be increasing roughly in pace with other inflation measurements. The consumer price index increased about 3.2% year over year in February 2024, which, while higher than the targeted rate of 2%, was within historical norms. If different inflation indices continue to show large divergences, we may need to revisit trends in consumer prices.

More Insights


The Philanthropy Outlook 2024 and 2025

March 13, 2024

Strengthen your fundraising strategy this year and next with this data-driven publication, revealing predictive insights for the philanthropic sector in the years ahead.


Charitable Giving During Presidential Elections

February 23, 2024

As we approach the 2024 US presidential election, many nonprofit professionals wonder if and how politics will affect this year’s charitable giving landscape. Read on as we examine research that helps us understand the relationship between nonprofit fundraising and political giving.


CCS Philanthropy Pulse

February 15, 2024

The 2024 CCS Philanthropy Pulse report serves as a guide for fundraisers, offering insights into the modern strategies nonprofits employ for development and highlighting avenues for fundraising success.

Research on how the US presidential election years impact giving is limited. We should look thoughtfully at 2020, the last election cycle, as the COVID-19 pandemic had unprecedented effects on the economy and how Americans gave. The following is what the data suggests about philanthropy in election years.

Philanthropy for Enhanced Democracy

While we don’t know if charitable giving will mimic 2020, recent grants indicate that donors, including mega donors, are willing to give to increase voter participation. The Open Society Foundations granted $50 million in December 2023 to encourage young people and women to vote, while MacKenzie Scott gave $10 million to the State Infrastructure Fund for increased voting participation and protected voting rights.

Aggregate giving in election years

The 2023 Philanthropic Landscape reveals that charitable giving increased in nine of the last 10 presidential election years, save for 2008 during the global financial crisis.  The charitable giving numbers for an election year tend to follow the trajectory seen in previous years, whether it is an upward or a downward trend. This trend has been observed despite variety in elected candidates, and thus indicates that philanthropy has and will remain resilient despite election outcomes.

Political Giving as a Share of All Giving

In the final few months of each presidential election, political giving spikes as a percentage of total giving, then resettles to lower levels shortly afterward. In more recent presidential election years, political giving appears to make up an increasingly large percentage of all giving during the months surrounding the election. The increasing share of giving during election seasons dovetails with other research that more and more Americans donate to political candidates over time. According to American National Election Studies (ANES) data, 12% of US adults say they donated to a political candidate in 2016.

Does Political Giving “Crowd Out” Individual Charitable Giving?

While political giving appears to be around $2.7 billion so far for the 2024 election year, it represents a small fraction of charitable giving, estimated to total $499.33 billion in 2023.

Though it may seem logical that donors of political campaigns may give less to charity in an election year, there is little empirical evidence to support this. In fact, a study by Blackbaud suggested that in the 2012 election, donors who gave to presidential and other federal candidates (as tracked by the Federal Election Commission) tended to increase their overall donations to charity that year.

“Rage Giving” After Presidential Elections

Following the 2016 election, anecdotal reports of an increase in donations to politically progressive causes, coined “rage giving”, were widely reported in the media. Several small studies appear to support the idea that following a presidential election, donors may be more inclined to donate to causes associated with the losing candidate’s party than they otherwise would be.

Following the 2016 election, the media widely reported increased donations to politically progressive causes, coined “rage giving.” Several small studies support that donors may be more inclined to donate to causes associated with the losing candidate’s party following a presidential election than they otherwise would be. While many of these studies have relatively small sample sizes and tend to focus on online giving—which grew by 42% between 2019 and 2021—the research provides some empirical evidence for the phenomenon of “rage giving.”

A Chronicle of Philanthropy analysis suggests that a similar phenomenon has occurred during at least three other elections. On average, nonprofits associated with the opposite political ideology of the winning presidential candidate saw a 57.55% increase in contributions compared to the previous year. Organizations associated with the same ideology as the new president saw an average 2.9% decrease in contributions.

Our Advice for fundraising in an election year

While it may be impossible to fully predict how a presidential election will impact philanthropic giving, we can offer insight into successfully engaging with your donors amidst the political climate.

Continue Fundraising Efforts

More than $3 billion was donated to the two major party candidates in the 2020 election, leading to concern about the competition that political giving may pose to charitable giving. While it is important to research the political giving of your largest donors before major requests, history tells us that donors continue supporting their favorite charitable causes during an election year. Record numbers of Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election; the sheer number of voters is an exciting indicator of increased civic engagement in the US, potentially having ripple effects on charitable giving and volunteering.

Practice Empathy and Awareness

Remember that emotions may run high, especially given the increased voter turnout during the last election. It is essential for charitable organizations to lead with empathy when communicating with donors, staff, and volunteers. Stay aware of how the election results may affect the lives of those closest to your organization.

Remain Committed to Your Mission and Communicate With Donors

Now is a time to reaffirm your organization’s mission, purpose, and values. If your mission was relevant before the election, it will be relevant afterward. With this idea in mind, continue donor communications, thoughtfully articulating your cause’s relevance to today’s world. Americans are passionate about various causes, from the environment to the arts to human services. These passions continue regardless of election outcomes, policy changes, and other societal factors.

Americans are generous, no matter the political climate

Today, as always, charitable giving is a way for Americans to support the values they cherish and empower the organizations that contribute to their communities and the world.

To get more data on philanthropy in the US, download CCS Fundraising’s latest Philanthropic Landscape, 12th edition.