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Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.

– Henri Nouwen

Whether you are planning to open a new shared site or seeking to expand existing services, you will need to invest time and energy into fundraising. Although there are some for-profit and nonprofit organizations that have their own foundations, securing funds for a capital campaign and operational expenses will be high on the list of priorities for most groups.

Fundraising is not a short-term activity; it is a long-term process that requires careful planning and ongoing attention. For intergenerational shared sites, this process is often complicated. Siloed funding streams, age-segregated mindsets, and concerns about bringing generations together, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, are among the challenges you may face. If you are partnering with another organization, there may be competing demands and/or overlapping funding sources. Opportunities exist if you develop a realistic plan with clear goals and get the right people to be part of your fundraising team. The value of intergenerational shared sites as effective vehicles for reducing social isolation, combatting ageism, and fostering healthy development across the life course is more important now than ever!

Kingsley House

4.1 Keys to Success

Relationship Building

Fundraising is about cultivating relationships with current and potential donors, foundation staff, government agencies, and other community organizations. Investing time in relationship development is critical to your long-term success. Get out in the community, build your reputation, and make connections. Encourage funders to be your partners rather than just providers of money. Listen to their advice and work with them over time to deepen and expand their investment.

Building relationships with other organizations or institutions can help you:

  • Expand your programming at little additional cost
  • Minimize community backlash and increase the likelihood that your new effort is seen as a welcome addition to the community landscape
  • Gain access to new populations
  • Open the door to additional funding opportunities
Revenue Diversification

You can’t count on any funder supporting you forever. Be nimble so you can jump on new funding opportunities that may emerge.”

– Keith Liederman, Kingsley House

Your shared site will need multiple sources of funding to ensure its continued viability.  Over-reliance on one funding stream (e.g., foundation or government grants or contracts, individual giving campaigns, planned giving, signature fundraising events) can cause problems when funding priorities change or there is a shift in the economy.  Direct service/program funding is a bit easier to secure than general operating or capital funds. Diversification will help you achieve short-term stability and enhance your chances for long-term success.

Jenks West Elementary/Grace Living
Creative Thinking

Intergenerational work is not a priority for most funders, though The Eisner Foundation and RRF Foundation for Aging are notable exceptions. However, using an intergenerational lens to address a funder’s priorities can open many doors and be viewed as a cutting-edge solution to critical problems. Think about how your shared site might fit into major funding trends in the aging or childcare worlds (e.g., social isolation, aging in place, child-friendly communities, family literacy). Frame your projected outcomes so that they are aligned with a potential funder’s priorities (e.g., improving physical health, slowing cognitive decline, increasing social or academic skills, enhancing technological knowledge). There are myriad ways to use intergenerational programming to achieve multiple desired outcomes.


Fundraising takes time and resources. Creating a well-thought-out fundraising plan and developing the capacity to implement it will increase the likelihood of reaching your financial goals. Your organization will need to identify potential sources and write grants, manage your fundraising and/or capital campaign, and navigate a multitude of funding streams. Do your homework – carefully research the priorities of potential donors and funding agencies and make sure you fit their criteria. Having a strategic plan is also recommended, as it demonstrates to potential funders that you have sustainability in mind. 


Although you may be very passionate about the idea of a shared site, it is important to combine your passion with clear and concise information about why your shared site is a good investment for funders. The potential to support more than one population, meet important community needs, and help organizations become more cost-effective in their service delivery is appealing to many donors. Don’t forget to share any quantitative and/or qualitative outcome information you may have with prospective funders. What will change as a result of intergenerational programming? For example, explain how this approach impacts mental and physical capacities and social-emotional development.

A good fundraiser is also a good marketer who can deliver a powerful message. In these challenging times, you may want to emphasize the “cost of loneliness” and frame your “ask” in terms of investing in a solution that builds healthy relationships and enhances the well-being of older adults and children. It is important to emphasize the contributions older adults can make, as well as discussing their needs. Telling personal stories about your current clients or the people you will serve can help you connect emotionally with a donor. State the cost benefits of your program in concrete terms, from saving money to saving lives!


Effective fundraisers don’t give up and don’t take rejection personally. If proposals are not accepted, ask for feedback. If donors don’t immediately make a contribution, continue to cultivate your relationship and communicate the benefits of your program. Remember, “No” can be temporary and retooling your “ask” based on the rejection feedback is priceless.