Taking Donors Seriously® was developed more than 30 years ago for people like you! Our online fundraising training and coaching program is geared specifically to the needs of field staff who raise their own financial support.

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Major Gift Officers

We’ve tailored the Taking Donors Seriously® for development professionals working on teams in larger organizations. Our online fundraising training course has been approved for Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credits.

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This version of TDS Online is for smaller organizations that do not necessarily have a dedicated or experienced formal development team.

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Independent Schools

This version of TDS Online is for independent schools that do not have a dedicated or experienced formal development team.

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Custom Programs

For larger organizations, we have the ability to tailor the content, timeline and delivery to meet your unique needs. Let’s talk!

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Why Us


Taking Donors Seriously® (TDS) is based on our belief that fundraising at its best is relational, and donors are engaged over time - hopefully for a lifetime - and appealed to on the basis of a shared mission, not simply the need for funds. This is the key to successful, sustainable fundraising.

For more than 30 years, TDS has equipped fundraisers with support-raising solutions based on a set of time-tested principles - rather than tactics - and has provided practical methods to apply these principles. Because fundraising is relational, our principles provide a framework for engaging donors throughout their lifetimes, whereas tactics tend to make fundraising transactional.

Time-tested principles

Our approach has been successfully adopted by hundreds of people for more than 30 years. These are not gimmicks or tricks, but rather enduring principles for relational fundraising.

End-to-end Framework

You will be given a complete over-arching framework, from which to develop a case statement, prioritize your prospect list, to learn how to ask prospective donors for their support.


Our program can be started any month, anywhere you are, as long as you have access to a phone and the Internet. No need to travel or take time off to go to training.

Hands-on, practical learning

This is not “drinking from a fire hose” over a day or weekend. TDS Online is a multi-week program in which you receive training in small doses, and then complete assignments applicable to your own situation.

Live, personalized coaching

You will have an expert walking alongside you as you implement what you’re learning. Coaching calls placed at key points in the program provide for the discussion of questions, ideas, challenges and feedback.

Return on Investment

You will not only gain the tools to improve your fundraising results right away, but your training will also continue to pay dividends for the rest of your career.

The FOCUS Group has a 33-year track record of helping individuals and organizations successfully reach their fundraising goals. Our coaches are experienced consultants who have provided development counsel and wisdom to dozens of organizations and individuals. Most of them have first-hand experience raising support for themselves or larger organizations.

For more information on The FOCUS Group, please visit www.tfgrp.com


"If you chart the transformation in our thinking and behavior, you will find Taking Donors Seriously® at the fork in our financial road. TDS is now an integral thread woven throughout the fabric of Young Life."
Denny Rydberg, past President of Young Life
"I always struggled with raising support, and was always stuck at about 75% funded. Right away, I was able to apply TDS principles to increase my donor base. I am now fully-funded and able to spend more time on my ministry."
Skip McDonald, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship campus staff
"Taking Donors Seriously® has helped me to see that “fundraising,” at its core, is about building and maintaining relationships. It is an investment in people that goes far beyond simply asking them for money."
Paul Null, Development Director, Reid Saunders Association
"TDS Online really gave me the tools I needed to be more effective in my development job. I have so much more confidence as a result of this training."
Susan Olson, Major Gift Officer, Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center
"The training that The FOCUS Group provided gave me the foundation I needed to be successful in raising major gifts. "
Luke Roland, Development Officer, Bowery Mission
"As a tuition-based, privately funded school, Nampa Christian relies on its donors for survival. Taking Donors Seriously® Online has provided us time-tested principles for treating donors with respect and grace."
Jill Cryder, Nampa Christian Schools
"There has been a significant change in attitude, a sharpening of skill sets, and an increase in our financial health. The introduction of TDS was the catalyst for this change. I will continue to use TDS Online for our new and future staff."
Nick Johnson, Area Director, Georgia, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"This course has been fantastic and has helped me develop a plan to work more efficiently and effectively."
Barbara Tooley, CrossWorld
"Ten weeks into the program our support doubled, our account avoided deficit, and we are now ahead in our fundraising."
Arturo Paulino, Young Life Area Developer, Rome, Italy
"This program has given us the tools and the skills to take our ministry to the next level. Thank you for the new skill set!"
Kim Carr, Executive Director, International Learning Center
"My approach to raising a budget has been fundamentally changed through TDS online."
Joel Wentz, Area Director, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"I loved TDS! It's going to help me establish good fundraising habits that will not only be beneficial for me, but for InterVarsity staff who come after me."
Lauren Ansong, Campus Staff, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"During the three months of taking the course I was immediately putting my training to work in my first major fundraising endeavor. I have already raised most of my first goal. Really exciting! "
Ben Harris, Church Planter, Covenant Presbyterian Church
"While this course does an excellent job of providing a comprehensive overview of fundraising, it is special because of its simplicity."
Mark Bogertman, National Advancement Officer, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"For those who are new to fundraising, this course is a must if you wish to maximize your potential right away. Not only your potential but also that of your team, which is your lifeline to raising money. "
Holt Hall, Director of Advancement, Westminster Academy, Memphis TN
"TDS Online was instrumental in helping me rethink how I view donors, and how to be deliberate in connecting with them throughout the year. We are starting to build our TDS team; it’s so hopeful to know that I don’t have to do it on my own! "
Anna Braasch, Director of Operations, Connected Families
"I have grown in my understanding of how to cultivate relationships with donors, make an ask for a large gift and enlist others to help me do this. "
Anneke Brown, Divisional YoungLives Coordinator, Young Life
"TDS was instrumental in helping us as a small Christian school develop and implement a strategy to both engage and re-engage with donors in a way that honors both the school and those who are supporting us in our mission."
Steve Blom, Director of Development, Deer Creek Christian School
"TDS set me up for success immediately, and the principles I learned have continued to prove meaningful and worthwhile. The lessons were clear, practical, and provided a strong foundation for my future in development."
Hector Cruz, Capital Campaign Manager, Evangel University
"Taking Donors Seriously has seriously changed the way we take care of donors."
Doug Jenkins, Evangel University
"Taking Donors Seriously sets a solid foundation for anyone looking to get into fundraising. "
Micah Billman, Major Gift Officer, Evangel University
"TDS Online training is quite helpful in understanding how to raise money. It will be an asset moving forward in my job to have taken this training."
Kimberly Moody, Regional Director, Young Life
"I would recommend Taking Donors Seriously as a great starting point for any non-profit looking to begin the process of creating a culture of giving."
Brian Koning, Director of Advancement, Abbotsford Christian School
"TDS Online is an excellent training program for new MGOs. The flexible online curriculum and professional coaching creates a unique learning experience that sets new fundraisers on a path towards success. "
Ben Waterman, Regional Director of Development, Taylor University
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