The fundraising plan is at the core of successful fundraising. But what exactly is a fundraising plan? Is it a spreadsheet? A list of activities? A list of potential donors and funders? Our answer: it’s this and so much more.
Here are four things to consider when creating your fundraising plan.
First, your fundraising plan should be rooted in your strategic plan. The strategic plan sets the direction for your organization, and the fund development plan guides your fundraising activities so the resources needed to implement the strategic plan are available. Your fund development plan should be created as part of the strategic planning process, or as quickly thereafter as possible. Your fundraising goal should be drawn from the strategic plan. This is the core of your fundraising plan: how much do you need to raise, how will the funds be used, and what impact will result. If your strategic plan does not include financial projections, then you must put pen-to-paper and figure out your projected costs. You have to know what you are raising money for and how much it will cost in order to create an effective fundraising plan.
Second, include an initial version of the case for support. This document is a primary communication piece that focuses your fundraising. Use the projections and information mentioned above to clearly and concisely communicate your fundraising story. Use facts and figures, projected impact, and emotion to make your case to individuals, foundations, corporations and/or government agencies.
Third, define your campaign structure and roles and responsibilities. Your plan must include roles and responsibilities for staff and volunteers so everyone knows what they are responsible for and can hold each other responsible. These can be used when recruiting volunteers: they let people know what specifically you need help with.
Fourth, create fundraising activity chart. This is the “heart” of the plan. It should cover a two-to-three year period, broken down into quarters. The chart should communicate actions to be taken, person responsible, projected outcome, and time frame. It must include the key fundraising tasks of identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding current and prospective donors. It should be reviewed and refined each quarter.
For example, if your nonprofit seeks major gifts your activity chart should communicate who is responsible for cultivating which donors, and when the cultivation and solicitation activities should take place. Don’t save everything for the 4th quarter. Likewise, special event fundraising should begin a year in advance.
Your fundraising plan should cover two-to-three years, be easy-to-read and understand, and become your go-to source for all things fundraising. Be sure to include a budget – what you project it will cost you to meet your fundraising goal. Remember to use your plan as a constant reference. Let it guide your progress and inform your adjustments.
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Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.