The Cause Agency
The Cause Agency

5 (Easy) Steps for Crafting the Perfect Nonprofit Fundraising Plan

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Do you know what a fundraising plan is? No? Then you’ve come to the right place. Many nonprofit organizations don’t use fundraising plans when they first get going, but as their operations become more complex and more time passes, they realize that a plan is sorely needed. But, what is a fundraising plan?

The Fundraising Authority says it well: No matter how small your church, school or charity is, or how far along you are into your operations, your group needs a comprehensive, well-written fundraising plan. A written plan will allow you to focus your efforts, plan out your yearly fundraising calendar and give you guidance on strategy and tactics when you are in the thick of events, mailings and calls. In short, your fundraising plan will keep you sane in the insane day-to-day world of the development office.

Knowing how to write one is the sitch, though. In this article, we’ll go through the steps to writing a fundraising plan from start to finish.

1. Start With Your Past Data

Stage One is the place where you gather your intel — start looking at information such as what kind of income and expenses you’ve managed for this year and the two years preceding; then look at where that income and those expenses came from. This can include membership fees, bequests, major gifts, events or what have you.

Once you’ve accrued this information, the next step is to analyze it. Consider which of your current strategies generates the largest share of revenue, which sources are most reliable, where the most potential for growth is, which areas are not producing and where you can use more volunteers and members of your board.

In the step above, your eye is turned inward and you’re trying to understand on an internal basis how you’re achieving income and how that income is managed. Afterward, you’ll want to look at the external factors, or the current climate. Then, decide whether internal or external factors have more of an impact on your organization.

2. Look at Your Data

Once you have the numbers figured out, you’ll want to move to the human aspect. Who’s on your team? Who are the board members, staff, volunteers, key donors, organization allies and others of the like? How many are there, and how are they helping your organization?

3. Set Your Goals

Now, you’ll want to set your goals. First, there are your strategic goals, which are non-monetary focused; second, the inverse — your financial goals.

What will your activities related to these goals be like? How much emphasis will you put on solicitation for new donors versus donor relations to maintain existing ones? Figure out the costs to acquire versus renewal and upgrading. (According to this study performed by The Association of Fundraising Professionals, about 88% of your money will come from 12% of your donors, so focusing on donor relations is crucial for your organization. There happens to be donor management software that can help you, too.)

4. Create a Timeline

At this point, you should have all your goals laid out. Next, it’s time to create a timeline to figure out when you want to accomplish those goals. To help with this, look at your financial/solicitation costs, along with your donor relations costs, then estimate the total cost during each month of the year.

5. Develop Your Strategies

Now it’s time to decide on the strategies you’ll want to use. It’s always best to detail multiple strategies, even if you don’t plan to use them all. Things may change in the future that will force you to reconsider your strategy, or you might strike a “eureka!” moment when drawing out your alternatives.

You’ll want to project your estimated income for each strategy over the upcoming year, then compare it to your total costs/expenses to figure out what your net income is after expenses. Remember to consider the total number of goals for the organization this strategy will meet, and the number of staff and volunteers needed to complete it. Next, pick deadlines, assign tasks and chart out who will be responsible for these tasks. What will be the expenses involved with costs like staff time, consultation services, creating designs, printing, postage, etc.?

Once you’ve detailed every strategy, you’ll need to pull back and look at the bigger picture. How will the strategies themselves benefit your organization in ways you might not have considered? Take each strategy and look it its overall goal, audience, when you’ll implement it, who in your organization will be involved and the cost for the entire strategy.

Remember: Not all data is created equal. These are some things you may need to evaluate further:

  • number of donors who gave last year and will potentially give again;
  • number of volunteers/board involved in fundraising;
  • number of first-time donors who give a 2nd gift;
  • number of donors/projects;
  • who attends events;
  • number of new donors acquired; and
  • number of supporters who increase their gift.

In Conclusion

These steps apply to most strategic systems, as diving in with a well-planned strategy will always benefit whatever you’re trying to accomplish. As a new nonprofit, neglecting certain practices may simply be a result of not knowing, and that’s perfectly okay! It’s a learning experience. However, if you want to set yourself up for success, implementing a fundraising plan is as good a start as any to become a long-lasting organization that makes a difference.

Happy fundraising!

Post Written and Contributed By:
Clay Harmon of Aplos Software