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Fundraising is the art and science of recruiting donors for a cause. Fundraising can be formally defined as "the collection of money or gifts by means of sales, contributions, initiation or membership fees, donations and/or admission charges to events or meetings on a regular or occasional basis."[1]

Fundraising is an important process for many nonprofit and nonmarket organizations not engaged in the sale or economic exchange of goods and services.

In the U.S., fundraising for nonprofit organizations (referred to by the IRS as "public charities") is often closely associated with the availability for donors of tax-deductions , whereas fundraising for political causes is generally not tax-deductible. There are numerous forms of fundraising, including face-to-face, direct mail, annual campaigns for operating funds, capital campaigns and numerous other types. Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia require fundraising organizations (including 501(c)3 nonprofit corporations) to register with state charity regulators before beginning solicitations.

Professional fundraisers in the U.S. are represented by the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP), which is the largest community of professional fundraisers in the world The Association announced in April, 2008 that its membership had surpassed 30,000. The organization has 197 chapters, 11 collegiate chapters, and members in 38 countries. Founded in 1960, the association represents members in approximately 15,000 different nonprofit organizations.

Fundraising can consist of organized "campaigns" soliciting donations or hosting special events to raise money. Most fundraising campaigns adopt a two-tier strategy, seeking to develop very large contributions from a very small and select group of "leadership givers", and a large number of smaller donations from a large number of donors.

Those not familiar with the field sometimes think of fundraising as a challenging, even forbidding, task of begging, cajoling or teasing money away from reluctant givers. Fundraising professionals often counter this impression with the suggestion that real, good fundraising is more like "friend raising." The fundraising literature is full of admonitions such as "don't give until it hurts; give until it feels good."

The range of fundraising activities in contemporary society is truly mind-boggling, from the bake sale conducted by a social club to capital campaigns for colleges, hospitals and other large institutions with goals in excess of a billion dollars.

Types of fundraising

The two major types of fundraising are for non-profit charities, or for political causes. Fundraising can consist of soliciting donations or hosting events to raise money.

Fundraising Processes

Setting Goals

Identifying Donors

Soliciting Donations

Fundraising Events

Non-Profit Fundraising

Political Fundraising


  1. Institutional advancement, U. o. C., Santa Barbara. (1992). Fund Raising: UCSB Policy 3010 Solicitation and Acceptance of Gifts. Retrieved January 24, 2008, from