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AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course

Course Material Newly Updated!

Name & Course Outline:

The AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course – newly updated to current fundraising methods and technology, offers a complete overview of the development function, featuring the most current information and techniques and will provide an overview of skills, techniques and program components for individuals with up to four years of fundraising experience. It is composed of seven modules, which have been designed by experienced fundraising professionals to meet the real-world needs and challenges non-profit organizations face every day.

This 16-hour course is meant to be taught in an active learning style and includes case studies and projects for groups and individuals, making the learning experience both substantive and enjoyable. 

Hosting the Course:

To host the AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course:


  • Please download the document AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course Host Toolkit.
  • Read through it carefully. Be sure to allow plenty of time for effective promotion of the class, as well as recruitment of and preparation by qualified faculty.
  • Next, complete and sign the Host Agreement Form (on pages 26-29 of the Host Toolkit). Scan and e-mail the completed form to
  • At the same time, mail the deposit to:
    Professional Advancement / Center for Fundraising Innovation
    Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
    4300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
    Arlington, VA 22203


The program coordinator at AFP IHQ will then contact the designated Site Coordinator with more details and assistance in getting the process underway. For more information, please contact

Please note: Faculty for this course will have to complete a mandatory facilitators training webinar. Please instruct faculty members to visit and then enter their name and email to access the video.

Course Objectives:

The course objectives for The AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course represent the "big picture" overview of the course. Under these objectives, for each course module there will be additional learning objectives that will lead to accomplishment of these overall course objectives. 

Module 1:  Overview of Fundraising

A big-picture look at professional fundraising, including the important role philanthropy plays in organizations and key motivations behind why people give. Also included: the primary sources of contributions; what an integrated development program looks like and which essential components aid success; the fundraising profession as a career, focusing on key qualities for success and a basic path for personal and professional development in the field; an introduction to professional standards and ethics. 

Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Explain the culture of philanthropy and the role philanthropy plays in organizations.

•       Name 8-10 key reasons people give.

•       Describe the primary sources of contributions.

•       List the essential components of an integrated development program.

•       Describe the essential components of an integrated development program and the primary purpose of each one.

•       State key qualities that every fundraiser should possess.

•       Describe a basic path for personal professional development.

•       Describe the importance of ethics and accountability in fundraising.

Module 2: Developing an Integrated Fundraising Program  

To effectively raise funds for an organization's mission, it's important to have a comprehensive plan in place that articulates the organization's case for support and includes appropriate giving opportunities. This module covers the importance of connecting that comprehensive plan with the organization's overall mission and strategic plan. The module features an overview of campaign types (annual giving, major gifts, planned giving) with a focus on the key role of annual giving. Content will include establishing/ensuring that appropriate policies and procedures are in place both to ensure integrity of donor intent and to honor donors/volunteers in appropriate ways. 

Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Discuss the relationship between the organization's organizational planning and development planning.

•       Define, clearly articulate, and evaluate the case for support. 

•       Describe the essential components of an integrated development program and the primary purpose of each one.

•       Identify stakeholders typically affected by a development plan.

•       Distinguish the differences between and uses for annual giving, major gifts, and planned giving.

•       Define the reasons for and differences between gift acknowledgement, acceptance, and recognition policies.

•       Implement a development plan that supports the organization’s overall mission and strategic plan, and meets the needs of stakeholders. 

Module 3: Marketing for Ongoing Success

Communicating information about fundraising activities to appropriate audiences (donors and prospects alike) and keeping all stakeholders informed   about the organization's progress is critical to ongoing and future success. Effective marketing is a key part of building and sustaining relationships for fundraising purposes. This module will cover creating a plan for marketing and communications activities that support development goals and strategies. It will also touch on the growing roles and importance of the Internet and social media in fundraising.  

Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Explain the definition of marketing and describe its application to fundraising.

•       Cite examples of communications methods and describe how each might be used to cultivate and retain donors.

•       Identify a variety of ways an organization's marketing message can be shared with stakeholders, and suggest which best fit particular stakeholders.

•       Prepare donor-centered solicitation materials that will influence and facilitate informed gift decisions.

•       Describe the roles of technology (including the Internet and social media) in communications and fundraising.

Module 4: Building & Sustaining Relationships  

Relationships are the key to fundraising success, and successful relationships start with knowing current and prospective donors well. This module will introduce the powerful role of prospect and donor research, including identifying and segmenting prospects and donors according to appropriate variables as well as effective donor records management to support ongoing relationships. Finally, cultivation, establishing and maintaining relationships with individuals and organizations, and optimizing relationships to retain donors rounds out the module. 

Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Explain the role of research in identifying individuals and groups with the capacity and potential to give in order to qualify them for further research and cultivation efforts.

•       Identify and segment the pool of potential donors, using appropriate variables such as previous gift level and potential, interest areas and relationship to the organization, and organization needs.

•       Contribute to developing mutually beneficial relationships with donors and qualified prospective donors. 

•       Describe examples of effective cultivation strategies and identify steps to use to maximize gift return on an ongoing basis.

•       Cite examples of effective relationship-building strategies.

•       Define "stewardship" and describe its role in building lasting relationships.

•       Discuss application of appropriate acknowledgement, acceptance, and recognition policies and practices.

Module 5: Securing the Gift

Once the development plan is in place and appropriate policies and procedures are set up, it's time to actively solicit gifts from donors and prospects. In this module, a closer look will be taken at solicitation strategies for campaign types, focusing most closely on solicitation techniques for annual giving. Additionally, there will be an overview of techniques for soliciting major and planned gifts. Special emphasis will be placed on implementing critical acknowledgement, acceptance, and recognition practices. 

 Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Describe solicitation techniques used in annual giving programs.

•       Identify, recruit, and prepare the appropriate mix of volunteers, staff, and professionals to carry out solicitations.

•       Discuss the six steps to a "model" major-gift solicitation.

•       Describe how to develop, implement and evaluate solicitation strategies that will maximize the outcomes of solicitation efforts.

•       List strategies for obtaining support from corporations/businesses, foundations, and government entities.

•       Describe the process for developing and presenting a written grant proposal.

Module 6: Volunteers - Partners in Fundraising

Fundraising just wouldn't be possible without dedicated volunteers supporting the organization's efforts. Establishing and maintaining a respectful relationship with volunteers is both art and science, beginning with how they are recruited. This module will explore effective ways volunteers can be recruited, trained, managed, motivated, evaluated, and recognized. As importantly, there are times when volunteers are best included in the development process to ensure they experience a sense of ownership in the organization's work and can effectively perform their roles.  

Objectives:  After this module, you'll be better able to:

•       Explain ways to use volunteers to help achieve organizational and fundraising objectives.

•       Discuss the key elements of a structured process for identifying, recruiting, managing, motivating, evaluating, and retaining volunteers.

•       Initiate, maintain and enhance continuing and mutually beneficial relationships with volunteers.

•       Describe a model volunteer orientation program.

•       Describe effective techniques for recruiting, training, managing, evaluating and recognizing volunteers.

•       Explain the board's role in fundraising.

•       Discuss the best ways to use volunteers in the fundraising process.  

Module 7: Management & Accountability

Fundraising is about more than soliciting donors and prospects, and the development office is responsible for managing the development plan. This module will present an overview of the management aspects of fundraising including budgeting, records management, gift processing, program evaluation, and the key roles and responsibilities of staff and volunteer leadership. The module ends with a look at accountability, basic legal requirements, and fundraising ethics in practice. 

Objectives: After this module, you'll be better able to:

 •      Participate appropriately in the organization's budget and planning process.

•       Discuss policies and procedures to ensure the integrity of donor intent and to honor donors and volunteers in ways appropriate to their contributions.

•       Describe key considerations in receiving, accepting, recording, acknowledging, tracking, and reporting gifts and pledges.

•       Explain how effective donor records management and proper stewardship of funds support and enhance relationships.

•       Describe the essential roles and responsibilities of board and staff members.

•       Discuss methods for evaluating development program performance.

•       Discuss the relevant legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements for information maintained in a donor database, and state potential sources for this information.

AFP Acknowledgments and Thanks:

The AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course, now updated to the current state of fundraising – including use of the latest technology, was originally developed in 2010 with a foundation from the Essentials of Fundraising Program and the First Course in Fundraising. AFP IHQ congratulates and especially thanks the volunteers from the AFP Greater Philadelphia Chapter, who developed and drafted The AFP Essentials of Fundraising Program. Thanks to their creative efforts, AFP could synthesize the best of both Essentials of Fundraising and the AFP First Course in Fundraising to create the AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course for all of AFP’s communities.


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