A successful fundraising plan is the difference between an organization that struggles to raise funds and one whose success knows no bounds. The most well-crafted non-profit development programs are those in which donors feel like they’ve made a real impact; this feeling comes from clear, concise communication about how much money needs to be raised specifically for each program or project being proposed as part of your overall goal (and then some).
Mapping out your fundraising strategy is a crucial first step in building the type of non-profit that will last. In this article, I'm going to walk you through some key elements and offer my personal template as an example for how others might tailor their own plans based on different needs or goals!
Every non-profit, no matter how large or small, needs a written fundraising plan in place. When you're wondering why these plans are so important for your organization? Watch my youtube on important of fundraising plan which details exactly what goes into creating and executing on such strategies successfully!
fundraising is a vital part of any nonprofit's activity and should not be entered into lightly. However, when done well it can have an outsized impact on the organization as well as provide an opportunity for future growth in other departments or divisions that may need support from your staff.
The following article will focus solely upon providing you with information about what exactly goes into preparing fundraising plans; we also offer up one sample plan so there are no surprises!
A Successful Fundraising Plan Includes 10 Component
Nonprofit organizations, consultants, and fundraisers all have their own formulas and structures for writing fundraising plans. I structure my plans around the following 10 key sections. You can download a sample fundraising plan at the end of this article. The structure of your fundraising plan might differ from mine... and that's alright. The important thing is to sit down and write it, then continue refining it as you go. These are my 10 components:
An overview of the background information
Provide a background that explains what is happening at your non-profit right now that will affect the plan. It can be a concise (half-page or one-page) review of the past few years and the current year, which will help anyone who reads the plan to understand it better.
Don't worry about including everything. It is not necessary to tell the audience about all of your staffing changes over the past year. Describe your fundraising plan for the coming year as it relates to the big picture
Consider, for instance, if you stopped holding your annual event last year because it was getting too expensive. In addition, if your board has recently expanded to become more fundraising-oriented, let us know that too.
Intended Results and Objectives
Here you describe what your organization hopes to accomplish in terms of fundraising during the time period covered by the plan. Provide numbers - explain your fundraising goals for this year and the next couple of years. How much should you raise? Do you need to raise certain amounts each year? How much does it cost to keep the doors open? Are there any contingency goals that will allow you to do additional work in case of additional funding?
Your fundraising-related objectives should also be included in this section. Do you want to find 3 new members for your development committee, for instance? Are you hoping to increase your e-mail fundraising list by 10% this year? Be as specific as possible in this section when describing your goals and objectives for the upcoming year. To see some examples of the kinds of goals and objectives you can include in your own fundraising plan, refer to the sample fundraising plan at the end of this article.
In this section, you will list the estimates you are making when forming the plan. Every non-profit makes assumptions as it plans out its fundraising for the coming year. Identify them here, so that everyone is on the same page. Here are some examples, which you might want to mention:
Considering that a new major gift officer will be hired this year.
Issuing the assumption that the local Rotary Club will continue to arrange its annual dinner dance in your honor
If you will continue to receive a major government grant this year.
Prepare a list of all your estimate and be aware that if one of them fails to pan out, parts of your plan may need to be revised to outline a strategy for dealing with it.
Infrastructure for fundraising
Things really start to get interesting in the second half of the plan. Describe what you plan on doing to achieve your goals this year. Here is where you begin to develop your fundraising strategy. Your fundraising infrastructure is the starting point.
To prepare this section, ask your team: what fundraising infrastructure do we currently have in place, and what infrastructure do we anticipate we will need over the next year or two?
You can use infrastructure to fundraise by adding staff, creating donor databases, creating marketing materials, creating your case for support, hosting your website, etc. Does anything need to be upgraded or replaced this year? Is there anything you want to add to make fundraising more effective for your team?
List the items, as well as when they need to be implemented and how much each will cost. You can use the sample fundraising plan below to get an idea of what infrastructure items you can include in this section.
A donor prospectus
In this section, we answer the crucial question, “How will we find new prospects for our non-profit?non-profit?non-profit?“ Fundraising begins with a prospect. Fundraising funnels begin with prospects. It is impossible to ask for a gift without prospects, and it is impossible to cultivate people without people to cultivate. New prospects are the lifeblood of your fundraising efforts.
Communication and cultivation of donors
The purpose of this section is to answer the questions, “How are we planning to cultivate our donors?donors?donors? What are our cultivation paths? and “What are our communication calendars for donors and prospects?
An organization's cultivation process begins when it identifies a person, business, or foundation as a promising prospect for fundraising until the moment it makes an ask to that entity. What happens in between is cultivation... it's all of the interaction and communication that takes place between your non-profit and your prospects.
The cultivation section also covers stewardship, answering questions such as, “How do we treat our donors once they make a donation?” “How do we thank and recognize our donors? and “How do we retain our donors, upgrade our donors, and motivate them to open up to us?”
Your donors can be nurtured and communicated with in a variety of ways. Non-profits typically cultivate donors through email and snail mail newsletters, your website, social media, annual reports, non-ask events, volunteer opportunities, and in-person donor meetings. See the sample fundraising plan for ideas on how to structure this section.
Tactics for Fundraising
The fundraising tactics section outlines the approaches you will use to actually make requests and solicit funds. Tactics should be divided by subsections with action steps, deadlines, and responsible individuals. Examples include:
Using direct mail
Grants and Government Support
Annual Giving Programs
Fundraising networks and affinity groups
Needs and Goals for Fundraising
I always include two items at the end of my fundraising plans, summarizing the plan and what we're going to do. This includes the fundraising needs and goals. This is a summary of what your organization needs to raise (your program budget) and how you plan to raise it (your overall fundraising goals along with specific monetary goals for each fundraising tactic you will be using). See what this looks like in action by viewing the sample fundraising plan provided below.
Timeline of Action
In each section, I include a list of action steps that list what must be done by which deadline in order for the plan to succeed. I then include a consolidated listing of each action step as the 10th and final component of the fundraising plan.
Anyone who reads the plan will have a clear understanding of the current state of activity, see what the deadlines and goals are, and know who is responsible for what. Please refer to the sample fundraising plan below for an explanation of this action step timeline. These timelines are used by many of the organizations with which I work to guide their weekly or monthly fundraising staff meetings.
Don't forget that your fundraising plan will change. Writing down your plan is essential, but it is equally important to be willing to adjust if circumstances change. Regularly review your plan and make changes as needed.
A Sample Fundraising Plan
Receive a sample fundraising plan by entering your e-mail address below. Once you click the button, an e-mail will be sent to you.
You will also be enrolled in our free weekly e-mail newsletter, The Fundraising Roadmap Newsletter, when you receive the sample fundraising plan.
While this plan is quite lengthy (30 pages), your plan can be significantly shorter, or much longer, depending on your needs. Remember to include firm deadlines in your plan for each of your tactics and to specify who is responsible for each action step. You can contact me here if you have any questions about this fundraising plan or would like help in writing one for your non-profit.