Fundraising Appeal Checklist

Fundraising appeal checklists like this one have helped us consistently achieve strong results.

I collected all the best practices I’ve tested to create the one below.

Aren’t checklists infantilizing?

On the contrary, they are critical for consistently high performance in complex environments.

From Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto:”

Substantial parts of what software designers, financial managers, firefighters, police officers, lawyers, and most certainly clinicians do are now too complex for them to carry out reliably from memory alone.

The philosophy is that you push the power of decision making out to the periphery and away from the center. You give people the room to adapt, based on their experience and expertise. All you ask is that they talk to one another and take responsibility. That is what works.

I’ve received lots of questions since sharing the Fundraising Appeal Checklist. Here are some of the most frequent:

Q: How do I use the Fundraising Appeal Checklist?

A: There are two types of checklists. The first is like a list of instructions (think of McDonald’s), specific steps that you need to follow. The second is like a reminder of important areas (think of an emergency room). This is the second type. 

Workflow-wise, you can require every appeal to be accompanied by a checklist before publication, or you can review as a group to make sure every appeal is the best it can be. Not every box has to be checked, but at least you should have thought about it.

Q: What do you mean by Gamification in fundraising?

A: Anything you’re asking the donor to do that is not making a gift. Ideas I’ve seen include 3-question surveys, notecards for the donor to send a message to a professor, nurse, or service recipient, or checklists with a mark for every year donated and the current one blank. In non-fundraising direct mail, I’ve seen games with stickers and crossword-like quizzes.

Q: Should/can we edit it?

A: Yes, please! Use this as a starting point. In fact, surgical teams have seen surprising safety and performance increases when they develop their own. Every development shop will need something different.


Digital Philanthropy – Summer Learning Series

If you are in the DMV area, come join Louis Diez on August 14, 2019 at 9am for breakfast and an overview of digital fundraising.

Nonprofit Montgomery
6010 Executive Blvd., Suite 200
Rockville, MD  20852

Case Study

Top 10 Private University Graduate School

Graduate School Sees Alumni Participation Growth to 34% with Giving Events Strategy

Case Study

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Day of Giving

Day of Giving and Website Effectiveness Assessment Increased Online Gifts by 343%


Fundraisers: Up Your Email Game

A White Paper on Email use in Nonprofit Development and Advancement

Email is an inexpensive and powerful communication tool but it must be used well.

In this 16-page white paper, I lay out a comprehensive guide to every aspect of email that I have found to impact fundraising results.

As a bonus, you’ll find an example of a Giving Day email sequence and schedule I have used effectively in different organizations. Feel free to copy!

Download White Paper “Fundraisers: Up Your Email Game” [PDF]


Future of Fundraising

This whitepaper is about how annual giving needs to change to stay relevant.

Essentially, it says that you need to leverage technology to communicate and provide meaning to people in a more human way, not less.

I was somewhat inspired by jidoka or automation with a human touch.

Download: Toward A New Annual Giving Paradigm


Fundraising in Spain

DrQXRDoWsAAZEGfWas privileged to talk about university fundraising in Spain at two prestigious institutions: Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and Cátedra UNESCO de Gestión y Política Universitaria.

Really enjoyed hearing Juan Salvador Pérez Villanueva explain the moves management process as el método del CASO:

Ofrecer Reconocimiento


Low-trust Donors

I have been thinking about this subject for years. I believe this whitepaper is a good first step toward understanding how fundraising is different, but still possible, in low-trust contexts.

Download Low-trust Donors whitepaper


Entrevista de Louis Diez en


Louis Diez was interviewed by Spanish daily elEconomista about higher ed fundraising in the US and Spain.