5 Things to Know When Creating a Fundraising Plan

Creating a fund development plan can be daunting for any non-profit organization, whether you are brand new to fundraising or looking to expand on existing efforts. Even if you have a clear idea of your fundraising goals and know who some of your potential donors might be, it can still be difficult to know where to start.

While every organization has different funding needs and is at a different place in its journey, the foundational principles of effective fundraising don’t change. The main reasons why fund development efforts succeed or fail are remarkably consistent across many sizes and kinds of organizations.

Here are the five things every nonprofit executive and board member should consider when creating their fundraising plan:

1: Understand the difference between a fund development plan and a capital campaign.

Fund development is your overall, ongoing plan to raise private dollars for your organization. A capital campaign is a drive to raise one-time funds for a specific purpose, such as a new building. A capital campaign might be a part of your overall fund development plan, but the latter is broader and longer-term. Either one could be the right fit for your needs, but the first step towards creating a plan that works for your organization is deciding the right scope for your plan.

2: Get tactical.

While there is some art to fundraising, it is really more of a science. When creating your plan, it is important to be clear and structured about your goals, donors, and processes. If your goal is that a certain percentage of your revenue needs to come from philanthropic giving, what is your target for the amount of funding you need to raise in each of the next four quarters? Who are your potential donors, and how do they segment into categories such as corporations, individuals, and foundations? What is your plan for how to approach each, and what size gifts do you ask for? Having a clear plan also means having a clear story. Why should someone give to you? What are you trying to achieve, how will you achieve it, and how will this gift help make that happen?

3: Integrate every aspect of your fundraising with your overall mission and strategic goals.

It can be easy to think of fund development as something your organization does “off to the side” to help pay the bills, but successful fundraising is tied closely to the overall mission and strategy of the organization. For most non-profits, raising funds is an essential step for executing your strategy and should be a key part of overall strategic planning. Conversations with potential donors should also always tie back to your organization’s mission and vision.

4: Designate a point person, but know that fund development is “all hands on deck.”

Like most important projects, fundraising efforts should have a designated point person to identify and assign tasks, follow up on do-outs, and track progress. Depending on your organization’s size and capacity, this might be a part-time or full-time job and might be a new person or someone already on your team. That said, fundraising is a team effort that requires the active engagement and participation of every executive and board member. The CEO is particularly important to fund development, as many donors will want to hear directly from that top person. If you are an executive or board member who is not comfortable with cultivating donor relationships or asking for money, help is available! A combination of practice and coaching turns many senior leaders into comfortable and effective fundraisers.

5: Understand that fund development moves at the speed of trust.

Fund development, especially if you are just starting to cultivate donors, doesn’t happen overnight and is usually not an effective path to meeting urgent financial needs. It also cannot be put on autopilot; it is a continuous process that needs to be actively maintained and nurtured.

Successful fundraising is all about relationships and trust, which can take years to build (and moments to destroy). Don’t get discouraged if your fund development efforts take time to bear fruit–that is normal and a natural part of the process.

Whether your organization is just starting to think about fund development for the first time or is looking to take existing fundraising efforts to the next level, having the right plan in place for your organization is the first step.

If you’d like to explore how working with 330 Partners can help your organization meet its fundraising needs, email info@330Partners.com. To learn more about the wide array of consulting and services that 330 Partners provides to non-profit agencies, private medical practices, and federally qualified health centers, visit 330Partners.com.