Fundraising RX

Prescriptions for fundraising success

This is a new series from AC Fitzgerald, addressing many of the most common issues we see everyday in our fundraising work. We’d love to hear what you think, and if you’re facing these issues, we’d love to help you find your solution!



“Our CEO recently left our organization. I won’t go into details, but it was abrupt and pretty messy. Some confidential things got leaked to the media and donor confidence is shaken. We have a great interim CEO, but I’m not sure what steps to take to get fundraising back on track.”


  • Formerly loyal donors are not responding to calls or emails
  • Donations that have slowed or dropped
  • Pledges that remain unfulfilled


  • Donors have lost trust in your organization.
  • Donors are taking a “wait and see” perspective.
  • Staff is demoralized and not confident in re-engaging donors.
  • Your communications with donors have not been clear.
  • The board has not taken a leading role.


  • Speak with one voice. Present a coherent and unified message about what happened, the actions taken, and the path forward.
  • Reaffirm your organization’s purpose. What is happening now, and what will be done in the near future? Has your purpose changed?/span>
  • Focus on your mission. The CEO may have left, but the mission continues, and the mission is as important as ever.
  • Encourage the board to become ambassadors and advocates. The voice of the board will go a long way to help rebuild trust in the donor community. This might include making calls or hosting small events.
  • Share positive testimony from loyal donors or other “influentials” in your network. Let these personal stories speak to the ongoing value of your mission.
  • Go on a listening tour. Learn what is really holding donors back, so you can better answer those concerns.
  • Be transparent. You don’t have to overshare or reveal private details, but be upfront with donors about programs, financials, and plans to right the ship.
  • Demonstrate that an adult is in charge. Even with an interim CEO, communicate frequently with donors. Consider higher-touch options like webinars.
  • Avoid rehashing the problem. After your unified, clear, and honest communication, move on. Focus on your mission and your future. (This is important externally and internally.)