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Fundraising Training Exercise: Fundraising from the Inside Out

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money

Prospecting is one of the basic techniques used to identify potential donors. This simple exercise offers a strategy—one of several included in this book—to teach your board and staff to think like fundraisers.

Why Do This Exercise?

The work of our nonprofits touches so many people, and many would give if asked

Use This Exercise When

You want to help your board and staff identify and prioritize existing donors and new prospects

Time Required

10-15 minutes


Anyone involved with your fundraising campaign: some combination of board, staff, and volunteers


A space large enough to accommodate several small groups of three to five each


  • Flip chart paper and markers

Facilitating the Exercise

  1. fundraising-training-exercise-fundraising-from-the-inside-out-image1.jpgDraw three or four concentric circles on the flip chart paper—it looks like a target—so that the largest circle touches the edge of the paper.
  2. Say to your colleagues, "This diagram represents the universe of our organization. Those who are closest to our mission and work, such as our board and the staff, are at the center." Write the words Board and Staffinside the center circle. "Out here on the fringe is the broader community."

    Write the words Broader Community or General Public outside the outer circle.

    "Our job is to brainstorm the groups of people that might be interested in our work; for example, one group might be the people we serve. As you mention the groups, I'll write them on the chart. Those who are most connected go closer to the center; those who are less connected will be placed further out."
  3. As the brainstorming begins, do your best to write all the groups, placing them in the appropriate circle. You can always ask the group for help: "How close to the center would you place local businesses?" Keep encouraging more responses until you fill up the paper.
  4. Once the brainstorming is complete, pick up two other markers of different colors. With one, draw several arrows that begin in the center and radiate outward in different directions. "The strategy of fundraising," you say, "is always inside out. We start with our best prospects first—those who are most committed and connected to the organization."
  5. Take the second colored marker and draw several arrows that begin around the outside and end up in the central circle. "The goal of fundraising," you say, "is outside in. Our goal is to pull everyone toward the center of the circle—to deepen their connection and commitment to our work."
  6. To debrief this exercise, ask the following questions:
    • Looking at the chart, which constituencies do we do a good job of engaging? Which ones would benefit from more attention?
    • What strategies might we use to move people closer to the center?
    • What experiences have you had with nonprofits that moved you closer to the center and strengthened your connection to the group?

Other Excerpts from This Book

Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson

© 2014, Andrea Kihlsted and Andy Robinson. Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money: A Cookbook of Easy-to-Use Fundraising Exercises. Excerpted with permission of Emerson & Church, Publishers.

Visit the website for this book

fundraising-training-exercise-fundraising-from-the-inside-out_Andrea-Kihlstedt.pngAndrea Kihlstedt is author of How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps. She has served the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years as a fundraiser, trainer, consultant, teacher, writer, and speaker. She has trained nonprofit boards and staff throughout the United States on effective major gifts fundraising, capital campaigns, and how to ask for gifts. Kihlstedt is cofounder (with Gail Perry) of Capital Campaign Magic, providing online learning about capital campaign fundraising.

fundraising-training-exercise-fundraising-from-the-inside-out_Andy_Robinson.jpgAndy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grantseeking, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada and is the author of six books. His latest include How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, and Great Boards for Small Groups.

Topics: Fundraising