In many cases, small non-profits operate without a real fundraising plan in place. Sure, they may have an idea for an event and they may send out letters, form committees and host volunteer groups. But that’s really not the most effective way to secure the funds to keep operating and furthering the organization’s efforts. Even if the coffers are filled, there are better ways to run a development program. Staying focused and organized is important for any nonprofit, but having the right plan in place is critical.
So, what is essential to developing an effective fundraising plan?
First and foremost is having a good idea of what your goal should be. And not just for the current year but for subsequent years. You should always think longer term and set fundraising goals for each of the next four years.
The numbers decided on should also be thought out and not just pulled out of thin air. They must be based on the needs of the organization, particularly in terms of the funds necessary to keep programs in place and further the cause.
Evaluating your objectives
After determining the amount of money needed, the next step is revisiting your mission statement and answering the question of why you need the money and what you intend to do with funds you are able to raise. Do you have an operating budget? If so, what is it and why that number?
Next are your tactics. Since you now have a better idea of the amount that needs to be raised and why, now is the time to figure on how best to go about raising it.
Try and detail specifics of the tactics you plan to use to raise the full amount not only this year but in subsequent years. List the tactics planned and the total amount you can expect from each that will add up to your fundraising goal. For instance, if your goal is $10,000 you might indicate that you’ll raise $4,000 through a donor group and another $3,000 each at events.
Some of the more common tactics employed by nonprofits include but are not limited to:
- Individual donors and major donor groups
- Events and participatory fundraising
- Direct mail, telemarketing, online and E-giving
- Grants from foundations, corporations and government
- Corporate Giving Programs
- Annual Giving and Multi-Year Giving Campaigns
There certainly are no limitations to the efforts you can employ to increase donations but limits do exist as far as available staff and volunteers to see them through. It’s a good idea to include a variety of different measures and be prepared and willing to eliminate fundraising approaches that fall short. You can always shift to other tactics to make up any shortfall.
It’s important to assign a timeline for getting things accomplished. Too often, organizations that may have a sound budget and great plans to raise money seem to stumble without the structure deadlines can provide. They don’t have to be all that elaborate but it helps listing the big goals and the smaller ones that make up the entirety like when decisions should be made regarding venue and entertainment or when potential sponsors will be contacted and when invitations are sent out.
Whatever you include in a timeline, it will provide a blueprint and allow you to think about the decisions you make as the year moves forward.
The process for creating a fund development plan will inevitably allow for ownership of ideas and strategies that will help guide your organization and its mission. It will also serve as a reminder of the importance of staying focused, organized and out front in order to achieve all your fundraising objectives.