10 Online Courses to Boost Your Fundraising Efforts

“Oh, if we only had the money for that!” 

Really? Why not? There’s no reason to hold you back from providing a high-quality, robust mission that serves more people than you ever dreamed. You just need money. 

“Easier said than done,” you’ve probably stated more than once. Sure, it’s not easy, but neither is your mission. 

Besides, unless you’ve served everyone who needs you, you don’t have an excuse. The money you’re raising and the program that it pays for isn’t for you. It’s for them – the people who deserve your support. 

So you want to revamp your fundraising strategy and bring in more much-need revenue for your cause. Where do you start? These online courses on ten key fundraising topics were specifically created to prepare nonprofit professionals such as yourself for fundraising success. 

Ready to discuss each of these online courses and what it can offer your team? Let’s get started.

1. Basic Fundraising

Suggested Online Course: Nine Guiding Principles for Successful Fundraising 

What best practices are at the heart of virtually all highly successful fundraising programs? Henry Freeman gives us the answer in this highly sought after, comprehensive interview series.

The 8 Core Principles is a set of fundraising practices gleaned from Henry Freeman’s work with nearly 100 nonprofits over the past 30 years that he believes are the foundation for virtually all highly effective fundraising programs.

Now, the ninth principle, Uncovering the Donor’s Transformational Story, focuses on the unique ability that highly gifted, highly successful fundraisers have for nurturing and securing transformational investments in the institutions they serve.

2. Prospect Research

Suggested Online Course: Finding Your Major Gift Opportunities

Once you have a case written, who hears about it? Prospective donors, of course. Great. But where do you find them? Brian Saber, president of AskingMatters, turns to Jay Frost, internationally known as the “Fundraising Sherpa,” for the answer. 

Spoiler alert: you may already know prospects who can transform your nonprofit! With effective prospect research practices, you’ll be able to find and understand the wealth in your constituency, throughout your community, and beyond. 

3. Nonprofit Software

Suggested Online Course: Nonprofit Development Operations and Technology

A wise fundraising expert once said, “make the list… then work the list!” Today, making the list starts with populating a nonprofit database. Then you can expand the list to include gift information, demographic data, and interpersonal connections. Used right, you’ll see a database as more than an organizational device. It becomes an essential fundraising tool.

In this wide-ranging discussion of nonprofit development and technology, Build Consulting’s team of technology experts answers questions on technology trends, what to look for in CRM (customer relationship management) technology, data visualization, and more.

4. Cases for Support

Suggested Online Course: Ask with Purpose: How to Write Your Best-Ever Case for Support

A fundraising case is the bedrock of your development efforts. It’s your rationale. It’s why you need the money, and what great work you’re going to do with it. An internal case—one that isn’t widely distributed except to staff and board members—is a comprehensive document outlining all your mission’s needs. Once done, you tear it apart, using pieces for projects and fundraising methods, like annual fund letters or major gift proposals.

In this free online course, fundraising consultant and author of Formula for Fundraising Success Diana Hoyt helps you discover the value of a compelling case for support, learn the critical elements of the case, and grasp design elements to make your case appealing to the donor.

5. Crowdfunding

Suggested Online Course: Head, Heart, Or Who? New Ways to Crowdfund Your Way to Greater Giving

Crowdfunding isn’t a novel, fundraising fad. It’s mainstream. In fact, it’s expected that as a fundraiser you know about crowdfunding and how to run a successful campaign. The problem is that successful crowdfunding campaigns aren’t as easy as everyone thinks they are.

In Head, Heart, Or Who? New Ways to Crowdfund Your Way to Greater Giving, fundraising guru Marc Pitman brings in crowdfunding expert Anita Gallagher to fill us in. You’ll learn how to determine when, and when not to use crowdfunding, as well as how clear objectives are essential to success, a five-step process to put the donor at the center of your campaign, and remarkable ways to communicate to donors that can lead to a crowdfunding triumph.

6. Corporate Giving

Suggested Online Course: A Beautiful Friendship: What Corporate Decision Makers Want in P2P Partnerships

Businesses don’t have to make gifts to your nonprofits, but given the right conditions, they’ll definitely want to. Common types of corporate giving include sponsorships, volunteer grants, and matching gifts, all of which can help boost your organization’s revenue streams.

In A Beautiful Friendship: What Corporate Decision Makers Want in P2P Partnerships, cause marketing expert Michele Egan provides some of the latest data on corporate giving and how to leverage it for your nonprofit. This is a great opportunity to learn how to raise more money through business partnerships that go beyond the worn-out bronze, silver, and gold level recognition.

7. Foundations

Suggested Online Course: Behind the Foundation Curtain

Giving money away is easy, right? Not so fast! If you want to know what it’s like on the foundation side of the grant-giving fence, this series of four “insider interviews” is an enlightening look at what it takes to give money from a family foundation. 

In this wide-ranging interview, Lorrie Hartley, Executive Director of the TKD Foundation, talks about how she became the leader of a foundation, the network among funders, and the mechanics of running a grant-giving institution. Hartley also provides interesting and useful insights into her interactions with foundation applicants. This is a must-watch for executive directors, grant writers, program staff, and anyone interested in getting foundation funding.

8. Grant Writing

Suggested Online Course: Online Graduate Class in Practical Grantwriting

This is a comprehensive, hands-on grant writing course that gives you graduate academic credit and a real proposal that you can submit to a funder! 

It starts with developing your grant preparedness. You then learn how to find the right funder, and through an exclusive interview series with a real corporate foundation executive, you learn how to create a win-win proposal. 

Unlike many other grant proposal courses, each component you create is evaluated and critiqued so you know you’re on the right track. This resource also includes fun, grant-related scenarios to work through with your classmates and plenty of opportunities to learn from your peers.

9. Planned Giving

Suggested Online Course: Nonprofit Gifts in Wills with Ligia Pena

Every fundraiser should have a solid grasp on one of the easiest and most common methods used to make a gift through an estate: a donor’s will. 

Ligia Pena, the Globetrotting Fundraiser, talks about important, relevant topics to provide any nonprofit professional with a basic understanding of planned giving. For example, this online course discusses targeting current donors for planned gifts, whether you need to be a lawyer or accountant to develop a planned giving program, what the gifts in wills page on your website must contain, the difference between major gifts and gifts in wills, and more. 

10. Capital Campaigns

Suggested Online Course: Capital Campaigns: Yes! You can do it!

Some consider a capital campaign as the ultimate fundraising effort. It may be, but you don’t have to let that intimidate you. Fundraising author, instructor, and Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) Linda Lysakowski is ready to take the pain out of your campaign and give you everything you need to know.

This course is every bit as comprehensive as the campaign you’re contemplating. You’ll learn how to assess your readiness for a campaign, what kind of campaign materials you will need, how to find the right campaign chair and donors, whether you need a feasibility study, and even how to manage life after the campaign. If a capital campaign is in your future, this is the course for you.


Ready to go? Of course you are! Raising money isn’t a side-show. It isn’t a “necessary evil.” If you believe that your mission meets a critical need for those you serve, then fundraising is a core function, right up there with delivering your programs. And you don’t have to have “development” in your title to make it your job. Everyone in a nonprofit, from the executive director down to the volunteers, has a role in effective fundraising. Check out any of these online courses and take your place!

This guest post was contributed by Matt Hugg of Nonprofit.Courses.

Matt Hugg is an author and instructor in nonprofit management in the US and abroad. He is president and founder of Nonprofit.Courses, an on-demand, eLearning educational resource for nonprofit leaders, staff, board members, and volunteers, with hundreds of courses in nearly every aspect of nonprofit work.

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