If you want to raise money this year, you need a fundraising plan.
Don’t believe me? Would you take a road trip without your trusty Google Maps, or go grocery shopping without a list? (Maybe you do - you rebel, you).
When it comes to fundraising, you need a plan to help you define your goals, keep you focused, and make sure you stay on track. Fundraising plans are just as important whether you’re fundraising for the first time or a seasoned pro. In fact, I’d argue, they’re more important for the novice fundraiser. Your plan will help you define best practices and make sure you’re raising money effectively and efficiently.
Well, what is a fundraising plan anyways?
Your fundraising plan is a written document (really, you need to write it down) that outlines your financial and strategic goals and objectives. It’s an overarching document that lays out your work for the year and outlines.
What really matters is that a fundraising plan will help you raise more money. You’re telling yourself exactly what you need to do to raise funds. Writing the plan is the hard work. Once it’s done, all you have to do is follow it for the rest of the year.
Ready to dig in and create your fundraising plan? Grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.
Forget what you think you know about fundraising
When you think about fundraising, what comes to mind? Submitting grants? Planning a 5K walk? Launching a crowdfunding campaign? If you’re new to fundraising, it’s time to forget what you think you know about fundraising and get back to the basics.
Fundraising isn’t just getting money from grants and companies, or hosting huge events. Instead, it’s about building relationships with people connected to your work. Your job as a fundraiser is to connect passionate people to your work and give them the opportunity to invest.
Why do those relationships matter?
The majority (nearly 75%!) of philanthropic investments come from individuals, not grant funding or corporate sponsorships.
If you send direct mail letters, you can expect a 1% to 3% return (and even less for email appeals).
What does this mean when creating your first (or second, or tenth) fundraising plan? Be realistic about what you can achieve with the resources you have and stick to the basics.
Read More: What is fundraising, anyways?
Focus on what really matters to you right now
Sure, your fundraising plan is going to help you raise big bucks down the road, but it really needs to tell you what you need to accomplish this year. When you start creating your plan, ask yourself where you want to be right now. What are the biggest things you want to accomplish as an organization this year? This could include:
Put together a fantastic Board of Directors or group of volunteers.
Launching a key program or project.
Kicking off a grants program or planning a major event.
These goals should be achievable within the year or be a focused segment of a larger project.
Set clear financial and strategic goals
Once you know where to focus, it’s time to define the financial and strategic goals that will get you there.
Your financial goals define how much money you need to raise, and where it will come from. include how much money you need to raise and where you anticipate it will come from. How much is budgeted for grants income, special events, or individual appeals?
Your strategic goals detail what tactics you will use to fundraise. However, they don’t all have to be specifically about fundraising. Think about what you need to accomplish in order to even get started fundraising. Consider if you need to:
Get a dashboard or CRM to track donations?
Recruit Board Directors and volunteers?
Create a marketing plan?
If your fundraising is still in its infancy phase your strategic goals should be a mix of revenue-specific goals and organizational development planning. After all, you can’t fundraise effectively if you don’t have processes in place or volunteers to help!
Identify how you will raise the money
Board member fundraising
Obviously you can’t do all of these (nor would all of them work for you). The important thing is to know what type of fundraising you will do and to have a few diverse, well-planned campaigns so you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Set achievable goals and objectives
Your objectives are measurable and specific,and outline exactly what you want to accomplish. Your objectives when launching a grants program might include: “create a grants pipeline with 25 qualified funders,” “create standard boilerplate and get feedback from Board,” and “submit 10 new grants.”
Make sure you have well-thought out goals and objectives for each planned fundraising campaign. These will ultimately be your roadmap and guide your daily work.
Create a fundraising calendar
Lay everything out in a calendar so you can look at your year as a whole. This could be a Google Calendar, an excel document, or a whiteboard: what matters is that you chart out your year and know when you will do what. Include:
What month(s) you’ll conduct your major campaigns;
All deadlines for grant proposals and reports;
When you want to accomplish your strategic goals.
Use your plan as a fundraising roadmap
Your plan is a living, breathing document and it’s only as going to be helpful if you actually use it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to what you planned, but your plan should guide your fundraising decisions and inform your daily work. Refer to it (at a minimum) on a quarterly basis to make sure you’re on track, and happy fundraising!