Goodness Report

Unlocking the Art of Fundraising Excellence: An Interview with Chris Looney, Creator of The Five Tool Fundraiser

October 26, 2023

In this week’s edition of the Goodness Report, we sat down with fundraising professional Chris Looney to talk about his journey in the fundraising industry, and his new venture, The Five Tool Fundraiser. With 25 years of experience, Chris has dedicated his professional life to the nonprofit industry’s advancement through fundraising, guiding, and advising many nonprofits on philanthropic initiatives. Over the years, Chris developed The Five Tool Fundraiser framework, which has now resulted in several books, and a variety of training materials for nonprofit professionals everywhere. 

In our exclusive interview with Chris Looney, an Idea Hall client, we delved into his fundraising expertise using a video-first content approach, allowing viewers to gain unique insights into his journey and the creation of the innovative Five Tool Fundraiser framework. Below is an edited transcript from our conversation with Chris.  


How did you discover that the nonprofit industry is where you wanted to focus your career? 

My experience with the nonprofit and fundraising field goes back to my parents, both of whom were professional fundraisers. So, at an early age, I was exposed to fundraising. At some point early on in that experience I knew that fundraising was going to be the place that I would spend my entire career.  


At this point in your career, what’s next? Is there anything new you are working on? 

My new venture, The Five Tool Fundraiser, is an attempt to support fundraisers in the very difficult work that they do by providing thought leadership, training, resources, and tools. My hope is that the tools and resources that they are provided will allow them to be better at their very difficult job of raising funds for these wonderful charities and community support organizations for which they work.  


The Five Tool Fundraiser is a unique name. How did you come up with the concept? 

The Five Tool Fundraiser concept was born when I saw my mother receive an award for fundraising. Because I am a huge baseball fan, and the best baseball players, the Hall of Famers, are called five tool baseball players, I started connecting the dots that if my mother were a baseball player, she would be a five-tool baseball player. And, not-coincidentally, the best fundraisers also exhibit five primary tools.

The five major tools that the best fundraisers possess include:

  1. The capacity to raise money and act as effective solicitors.  
  2. The effective management of staff.
  3. The close partnership with their CEO and executive teams.
  4. Engaging volunteers and handling board members extremely well.  
  5. The capacity to think ahead as a thought leader and strategist. They can think about the future extremely effectively, whereas most people are most concerned about what is just happening today.  


Where do you see yourself and the Five Tool Fundraiser five years from now? 

My desire is strong to continue writing in the fundraising space,  so I can imagine new books being published in the coming years. Similarly, I’d like to continue to provide training in fundraising and the Five Tool Fundraiser is building out a definitive vendor list for fundraisers to access free of charge.

And I am excited to explore new areas that are emerging in philanthropy, whether it is AI or the benefits of analytics. There are so many  subjects that we do not know enough about in fundraising and the Five Tool Fundraiser is well-positioned to help explore.

I am excited to fill whatever hole exists for fundraisers and  help them achieve their fullest potential.


To learn more about Chris’ new venture and the services that will be offered to professionals in the fundraising community, click here.