RGI Program Offerings

Each organization’s vision for the future is unique. The Rolfson Group (RGI) engages in flexible consulting arrangements that address priorities, aspirations, and budgets. Working with senior leadership, we assess, plan, and deliver Advancement initiatives that reflect available resources and intentional timeframes. RGI offers a full suite of fundraising tools and provides customized expertise in the following program areas:

Before an organization moves forward with a major fundraising initiative such as a capital or comprehensive campaign, it is important to conduct a Campaign Strategy Study, consisting of two primary components. The first is an internal advancement audit that assesses existing fundraising programs and determines whether an organization is adequately staffed and programmatically positioned to undertake a campaign. This yields a “gap analysis” that details actions to consider prior to launching your campaign. The second is an external feasibility study that engages prospective major donors and volunteers to determine when to move forward with a campaign; how best to position its funding objectives; and the amount of philanthropic support the campaign will seek to raise.  

Thereafter, RGI works with its clients to build and train a volunteer leadership team based upon feasibility-study findings. A Board-approved campaign plan is adopted that includes a timeline, gift table, campaign budget, gift-counting protocols, stewardship plan for current donors, and conversation guide for stakeholders. RGI guides and mentors the campaign committee and senior leadership throughout the process and during each phase of the campaign. 

Campaign counsel work is typically front-loaded while systems are put in place and staff and volunteers are trained, organized, and given the information and materials needed to be successful.  Thereafter, regular check-ins are scheduled, and access to campaign counsel is unlimited throughout the engagement.

Strong annual giving is the foundation for successful fundraising, including major, planned, and corporate giving. Since restricted and unrestricted annual fund gifts are critical in funding operations, it is important for nonprofits to define donor impact, analyze historical data, and implement strategic solicitation and stewardship initiatives.

The mainstay of most organizations’ annual giving program is an Annual Fund, which is the money raised from an (ongoing) annual giving campaign. Annual fund revenue is a pivotal part of an organization’s financial and business model and reflects the support and contributions of loyal donors, members, and constituents. Annual Funds most often support operational costs and help bolster the annual budget. Successful annual fund campaigns are run throughout the year, involve multi-channel, intentionally repetitive outreach strategies, and leverage a targeted donor segmentation and outreach plan.

Annual giving not only fuels a steady support stream for specific programs and/or the organization in general, but also provides a critically important mechanism and opportunity by which an organization can discover, recognize, leverage, and thank existing donors—with the goal of inspiring new donors, stewarding existing donors, and re-engaging lapsed donors.

Major gifts are the backbone of a successful fundraising strategy. Typically, 5% – 10% of an organization’s donors contribute 90% – 95% of its philanthropic revenue each year. These major donors require a considered approach, strategic cultivation, and thoughtful stewardship in order to create lasting and meaningful relationships with your organization.

A successful major gifts program requires an organization’s leadership to make a long-term commitment of time and resources. It necessitates a focus upon those with the greatest philanthropic capacity who are most likely to support your organization over the long run. This includes individuals, foundations, and corporations that become engaged with one’s nonprofit. Within these constituencies, identification of prospective donors, followed by strategic cultivation of key relationships will lead to increasingly larger gifts. 

A planned giving program reflects an organization’s commitment to long-term planning. It is an essential source of long term revenue because it creates a lasting legacy for the donor while demonstrating a commitment to organizational sustainability,

Planned gifts are also known as deferred gifts; while the donor makes a commitment in the present, the beneficiary organization only has access to the gift at a future date. Often, these gifts can represent a larger donation than a donor may be able to make during her/his lifetime.  Additionally, a donor of any age can consider a planned gift and there are several relatively easy ways to make a gift.  

When considering a charitable bequest, the donor is equating the organization with family and other loved ones. A planned gift represents a deep commitment to the organization by a donor who has confidence in the mission and that it will be operating successfully in the future.  That commitment also often leads to sustained annual fund support and larger gifts throughout the donor’s lifetime.

The allure of a grant is appealing to anyone charged with the challenging responsibility of helping deliver a nonprofit’s mission. While the majority of charitable contributions come from individuals, foundation grants provide significant revenue for many organizations.  Beginning an organization’s quest for grant support with an understanding of the steps involved will increase the chances of securing support for proposals.

While foundations are fairly clear about what they will support and are required by law to give away a percentage of their assets annually, corporations have a different orientation: they exist to make money or increase shareholder equity. Businesses often support nonprofit agencies as part of their public relations program or corporate social responsibility philosophy. 

Success with foundations and corporations requires beginning with a strategy, building a strong case, doing research, making appropriate contacts, writing the proposals, and following up appropriately.  Proactively completing required reports on time and with a thoughtful approach as well as intermittently sharing stories of organizational success (stewardship) is essential to building strong relationships with grant funders.

An organization’s policies, procedures, and database are the foundation of its fundraising information infrastructure and often are overlooked as an essential resource for successful fundraising activities. 

Clearly documented policies that provide guidance on standards, and procedures that provide instructions on how these standards are to be implemented are essential to eliminate confusion, create structure, and ensure continuity of standards over the lifetime of an organization. 

This is particularly important in the area of gift entry and maintenance. Gifts typically are scrutinized during audits, and many rules around gift acceptance and acknowledgement are guided by IRS regulations.  Of the many fundraising areas, industry best-practices are most clearly defined for gift acceptance, entry, and acknowledgement. Aside from helping manage information in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment, policies and procedures have practical purpose: they provide training materials for new staff and serve as the shared operating principles for the organization.

With increased competition for the philanthropic dollar and a proliferation of nonprofits seeking strong Board members, it is imperative that organizations use these key volunteers strategically and effectively. Further, once Board members understand that they can participate in the fundraising process without necessarily having to “ask for money,” you will have significantly leveraged your organization’s fundraising team and potential.

While strategic Board development (recruitment, training, and retention) is necessarily a long-term process, helping members internalize Advancement’s best practices is neither time consuming nor complicated.  Once members share a clear vision for your nonprofit’s future (typically through participatory strategic planning), what remains is to clarify messaging and help them understand the many ways they can be involved in the Advancement cycle— such as hosting “friend-raisers,” making introductions, building relationships, and helping with stewardship. Providing opportunities for members to fulfill their Advancement duties while remaining within their comfort zones is the first step toward creating a functional team of key volunteers that will be critical to your fundraising success.

As part of a strategic and multifaceted philanthropy program, special events hold a unique place both as a generator of funds and, perhaps more importantly, as a way for a nonprofit to educate people about its mission while simultaneously engaging new volunteers and donors.  While raising money is likely to be an organization’s number one goal when it moves forward with a special event, nonprofits should consider other strategic benefits that successful Advancement events offer, as well. 

There are myriad events that can meet the precise goals of your organization. From dinners to charity walks to talent shows and auctions, whatever the size and nature of an organization, paying close attention to the realistic goals and benefits of each such endeavor ensures that your nonprofit will make the most of a fundraising event.  Creative, mission-appropriate stewardship and donor recognition events are the best ways to honor and cultivate your supporters, and successful events often lead to new donors and additional gifts.

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We work very closely with you and your organization to ensure a successful plan, tailored to your particular needs.

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