improve fundraising results

The title above was perhaps the most significant finding within the recently released research conducted by Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, Dr. Rita Kottasz and Dr. Adrian Sargeant entitled Mastering Major Gifts.

According to the report, “there is a strong correlation between the range of training and educational opportunities afforded to staff and overall fundraising performance. Each additional form of training/education is associated with an increase of $37,000 in income.”


Training Defined

According to Eisenstein, the most pervasive type of training is ad hoc. “We asked what opportunities people were taking advantage of or available to them. The most frequent kind of training and education that development directors are participating in is, online training, like webinars, or in-person conferences. The most intensive forms of training, CFRE, ACFRE, FAHP or formal courses on fundraising at a local university are only participated in among 10% of fundraisers surveyed.”

Even a more expensive form of accessible training, like conferences, could be worth your while.

Even a national conference that costs you $2,000 or $3,000, with the resulting major gift increase of $37,000: totally worth it, right?


Learning Opportunities

So where can you find these forms of ad hoc training?

Let’s first start with events and conferences:

  • Local AFP chapters
  • Statewide nonprofit associations
  • Niche associations (Down Syndrome Alliance, Association of Lutheran Development Executives, etc.)
  • National affiliates (Boys & Girls Clubs, Alzheimer’s Association, etc.)
  • Stand-alones (Cause Camp, NTC, etc.)

It’s not uncommon for a local AFP chapter to host monthly breakfasts, luncheons and possibly even an annual conference. Be on the lookout for those events, as well as anything tailored to your specific mission niche.

Next, let’s look at some available nonprofit webinar series’:

  • 4Good
  • Nonprofit Hub
  •  CharityHowTo
  • Network for Good
  • Nonprofit 911
  • Grantspace
  • Firespring
  • Bloomerang
  • Individual consultants

Seldom do I directly mention specific details involving the organization I am part of. However, due to the potential immense benefit for fundraisers everywhere, tradition will be broken below.

Just last week, during a presentation of the major gift research findings to a large group of professional fundraisers, the comment was made about the vast amount of high quality training provided by Bloomerang for free every single month. Our weekly webinar series typically draws 1000+ registrations, and has included high-profile guests including Tom Ahern, Kivi Leroux Miller, Adrian Sargeant, Simone Joyaux, Sandy Rees, Gail Perry, Rachel Muir, Lori Jacobwith and so many more. We also post the recordings publicly here. Nearly every single week of year, industry experts provide a solid menu of various subjects all aimed to improve fundraising results.

Although the webinars usually garner the largest attendance, additional learning opportunities extend in multiple directions.

Lastly, let’s examine industry blog posts.

Our list of favorite nonprofit sector blogs is updated annually, and is quite comprehensive. Other similar lists exist that may pick up blogs we missed. You’ll also find a multitude of videos, eBooks and newsletters on each of those websites. Subscribe early and often! Don’t forget Bloomerang TV, our free downloadables and our newsletter – as well as the Bloomies, our library of real-life donor communications examples that you can draw inspiration from.


There is so much free information, best practices and advice available through practitioner, vendor and consultant blogs that you hardly ever need to leave your desk to hone your fundraising skills.

Hopefully, you will agree it is quite a line-up of educational opportunities. Just imagine if the research proves true and each offering absorbed increases your organization’s annual fundraising results by $37,000!  Just picking a couple of items from each of those listed above could mean 12x the learning experience or $444,000 in additional potential revenue!

Personal development and learning may have never been this profitable! Please give a few of the above options a try and see what impact it might have on your organization’s mission.

How do you pursue additional training opportunities in the nonprofit sector? Did I leave any ideas out? Let me know in the comments below!

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.