The Future of Fundraisers and the Strategies Never to Ignore

tara de nicolas

If you’ve ever been involved with a nonprofit, or any other organization tasked with fundraising, you know firsthand: change can be a very scary word. However, according to Tara de Nicolas from the Georgetown Consulting Group, trying new things, experimenting with different platforms, and adopting new technologies are facts that can make the difference in coming close to fundraising targets and completely blowing your fundraising goals out of the water.

Not completely sold? Tara’s background and track records speak for themselves. As a recent graduate of the Georgetown Business Leadership program, Tara has successfully combined her strong consulting background with her love of nonprofits to brainstorm, launch, and deliver successful fundraising efforts time and time again.  Perhaps her most impressive was the almost $3M (uhh…million, you guys) in revenue she helped raise for the Washington Humane Society through her Fashion for Paws event.

While it might seem that Tara simply has the Midas touch, there’s actually a method to her madness and offered up a ton of actionable takeaways for creating your own crowd-funding hemisphere, which she was kind enough to share with us at #ElevateDC.

Don’t Do It Alone

While you may feel like a one-man or one-woman show, the most successful fundraising endeavors come from teams. Sit down with your organization’s stakeholders and collectively decide what your values are, and then identify your resources.  Tara also suggests forming an executive committee to brainstorm and map out your organization’s philanthropic strategies and help you think out of the box.

Take a Look at the Landscape

Today’s fundraising landscape is noisy and donors are fatigued from organizations competing for their sponsorship dollars. While Tara knew she could sell tickets and tables to an event, she knew that that ultimately there was a limit of how much money could be raised through those traditional methods and turned to crowd-funding, or peer-to-peer fundraising to reach new levels of fundraising success.

Get Lean

Many nonprofits are understaffed, thinking about the day-to-day tasks they must face, and don’t think like businesses. Tara stresses the importance of applying business/startup practices to your organization’s efforts in order to raise more money and awareness for your cause.  Not familiar with the ‘lean’ methodology? The Lean Startup is a great read to get you started.

It’s Not Just About Fundraising

Sure, it’s important to set goals and keep your eyes on the prize, but there are so many other important aspects that truly cannot be ignored when tasked with a raising a significant amount of money. For starters, your fundraising efforts are almost worthless without a strong marketing and PR strategy mapped out, as these efforts truly go hand and hand and help determine the success of your campaign.

Additionally, attracting and securing great vendors and sponsors can really make or break your efforts. Not only can their contributions or donations offset your event costs but high end vendors attract high end attendees. It’s the circle of life, kids.


It often feels quite daunting to be leading the charge on a large scale fundraising effort, and that there are never enough hours in the day.  Tara credits staying sane and coming up with her best and most creative ideas by walking her three dogs. Sometimes we end up far too close to our work and aren’t able to come up with a creative solution for the task at hand until we step away from it for a bit.

Now you’re ready to put Tara’s learnings into play and crush your next fundraising target, right? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us about your next event!

Interested in following along with Tara’s next impressive fundraising feats? You can follow her on Twitter at @TdeNicolas. You can also check out the slides from Tara’s presentation on Slideshare.

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