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What essential fundraising systems does your nonprofit need?

Posted March 24, 2022 by Virginia Davidson

ssential fundraising systems for nonprofits

In order to successfully advance your nonprofit’s mission, it is imperative to have a few key fundraising systems in place. Behind every successful fundraising operation, there are systems and workflows that make its accomplishments possible.

Those operations may not seem as impressive or exciting as securing a gift from a major donor or running a successful fundraising event. But they deserve a lot of time and attention. Why? Because “individual ideas are great, but unless they’re plugged into a good system, they can only work so well,” as Erik Hanberg points out in his valuable fundraising guide, The Little Book of Gold. Without those essential fundraising systems in place, an organization will find it hard (or even impossible) to effectively cultivate and steward donors in order to meet its fundraising goals.

What fundraising systems are essential?

  • Your organization needs a system for recording and acknowledging gifts.
  • You need to be able accept, track, and manage different kinds of gifts, like pledges and recurring gifts.
  • You need a way to record personal interactions with donors and other stakeholders.
  • You need a way to report on your fundraising efforts.

These systems are important for multiple reasons

  • They ensure not only that your donors receive the accurate gift acknowledgments they need, but also that they are stewarded appropriately.
  • They help fundraising staff work more efficiently and effectively, minimizing stress and frustration.
  • They provide you with vital data you can use to evaluate fundraising results and plan for the future accordingly.
  • They serve the organization well in the long run so that important knowledge about donors doesn’t disappear when an employee retires or leaves.

How to assess if you have the essential fundraising systems you need

Think about your own short-term and long-term responsibilities as a fundraiser:

  • Do you have fundraising systems in place to support your work? (Our donor management software checklist can help you to prioritize what functionality you need most.)
  • If you don’t have systems in place, why?
  • If you do have systems in place, do you feel comfortable with them? Or do you have the sense that there may be a better approach?

Help with creating systems and workflows

Maybe your organization is just beginning the transition from an Excel spreadsheet to a donor management system like Little Green Light. Maybe you’re already using Little Green Light, but you’re not sure you’re using it effectively. Or, maybe you’ve just started a job at an organization that uses Little Green Light, and you’re new to the software.

We want you to feel confident in your work. To help you, we’re making available two valuable resources that will strip the mystery out of fundraising and, for users of Little Green Light, will supply you with specific, actionable tips to help you get the most out of your donor management system.

The first resource we want to direct you to is Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold. Forbes rated it as a Top 12 Must-Read Book For Nonprofit Employees, and it’s packed with practical, real-world fundraising wisdom that really resonates with us.

The second is LGL’s Companion Guide to The Little Book of Gold. Each chapter of Erik’s book covers an essential aspect of fundraising, and in LGL’s Companion Guide we’ve written corresponding chapters that show you how you can use Little Green Light to implement Erik’s advice.

How to access The Little Book of Gold and LGL’s Companion Guide

For Little Green Light customers:

Little Green Light customers can download their FREE digital copy of Erik’s book, The Little Book of Gold, along with LGL’s Companion Guide, right from within their LGL account. Simply visit the Help page in your account and click the blue “Get free copy” button at the top right of the page.

For Non-LGL customers:

Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold is available at Amazon, the author’s website, and wherever books are sold. LGL’s Companion Guide is available as a free download at


If this particular blog post has gotten you thinking about how to implement or improve your own fundraising systems, we want to point you straight to Chapter 2 of The Little Book of Gold, in which Erik uses board giving as an example of how to track interactions with donors, manage pledges and recurring gifts, search and report on your efforts, and more. And, for LGL users, Chapter 2 of our Companion Guide will show you how to use LGL’s functionality to implement Erik’s advice.

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