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Catalyst for Fundraising Success

Planting Seeds of Giving

What is Catalyst?

Many factors that affect fundraising have little to do with the actual activities of fundraising. Having a clear organizational mission, visionary leadership, compelling stories of community value, a broad network of nurtured donors, and spot-on financial reports are the foundation of fundraising success.

Catalyst helps nonprofits reach their fullest potential by providing tools to help strengthen the organization’s business model and case for funding. Participants set priorities and make improvements to the internal systems that lead to fundraising success and align the board and staff around fundraising goals. With the help of 501 Commons consultants, participants have the opportunity to learn and share with a cohort of organizations. Nearly 50 organizations have participated since the program began in 2010.

"This is an amazing program! As a result of the Catalyst program we introduced our Fair Share program and had great success. In just 6 months, the new donor program has beat our previous giving program by 291%.”  ~Washington Poison Center

How It Works

Catalyst combines six processes for improving fundraising success:

  • Assess: Complete a development capacity assessment
  • Focus: Identify key issues that are limiting mission fulfillment and fundraising capacity
  • Take action: Develop an action plan for addressing those issues
  • Make a plan: Create a 3-year development plan
  • Craft your case: Develop a compelling case statement
  • Actively Learn: Participate in active learning and collaboration with your peers

Research has found that the use of a cohort approach improves the likelihood that the information being provided will be put to use. Catalyst organizations learn from the program consultants and from each other. You can learn more about specific outcomes by reading our 2016 Catalyst Report.


Unlike one-day trainings or conferences, Catalyst addresses conditions and processes within the organization and attitudes within its leadership that are limiting the group’s ability to raise money. The process allows the organization to gain awareness of what is holding it back and gain confidence that there are people and organizations that want to support their work—as long as they can see the  benefits of their support.

The Catalyst process helps organizations identify and address organizational problems that limit fundraising success, spot opportunities, develop actionable plans, and measure success on those efforts. Organizations that make this kind of operationally-focused planning a habit are more likely to succeed over time. Planning takes time, but it makes an organization more nimble and more resilient in the long-term.

Participation Fees

Fees for Catalyst are on a sliding scale based on the organization’s budget. Catalyst is worth $25,000 at market rate for consulting and training. Thanks to generous support from the Satterberg Foundation, your participation costs are much lower. 2018 fees will be published in the spring.

Application and Schedule

The 2017 Catalyst action learning program has completed.  We will be accepting applications for the 2018 cohort in Spring 2018. You are welcome to call any time if you want more information.

Download 2017 Program Guide


If you are interested in Catalyst, please contact Catherine Nueva España at We're happy to discuss the program with you personally to determine if Catalyst is the right fit.