Your nonprofit’s fundraising plan is the backbone of your success as an organization.
Without a solid fundraising plan in place, there would be nothing to guide your fundraising efforts and no way to tell if your nonprofit is on track to meet your goals.
Before implementing any change in fundraising strategy, you need to have an official fundraising plan in place. To get you started, here are 6 simple tips to consider:
- Gain fundraising plan input from key stakeholders.
- Develop goals (and challenges)!
- Set a fundraising plan timeline.
- Determine your fundraising methods.
- Build corporate partnerships into your fundraising plan.
- Tailor your case for support.
Bonus! Once your fundraising plan is in place, you should periodically assess your strategy. Check out Double the Donation’s ultimate fundraising strategy assessment to stay ahead of the curve!
Ready to get started on your fundraising plan? Let us break these tips down into a bit more detail.
Stakeholders are an important part of your nonprofit’s team. Not only do they help fund your organization’s philanthropy, but they typically have final say over big-picture fundraising decisions.
Since a fundraising plan outlines a nonprofit’s key activities, it is important to get support from these board members and other key stakeholders.
There are a couple of ways you can gain input from your stakeholders:
- Experiential input. You can ask stakeholders directly about what fundraising strategies have worked well for your nonprofit in the past. Inquire about past fundraising activities, strengths and weaknesses. Take their feedback into consideration and be sure to demonstrate to them how you address their input.
- Consultant interviews. You might find it helpful to bring in a fundraising consultant. They can conduct stakeholder interviews to determine what is most important to your board and how to get everyone on the same page when designing your fundraising plan.
Remember: Your nonprofit’s board members are just as passionate about your organization’s mission as you are. Do not think of their approval as a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome, but rather an important step towards improving your fundraising plan.
When designing your fundraising plan, your final product should reflect your nonprofit’s primary goals above all else.
It is easy to fall into the trap of vaguely fundraising without an endpoint in sight, but to stay on track your nonprofit needs to actively work toward a defined set of central goals.
Before designing your fundraising plan, your nonprofit needs to sit down and agree upon what goals to prioritize across all levels of your organization. Your goals should be:
- Specific, actionable, and measurable. Do not just decide to increase fundraising revenue, or plan to retain more donors. Set numeric benchmarks and timelines, and decide how you will tackle these goals.
- Evaluated against metrics. You cannot accurately assess your progress towards achieving a goal without having metrics in place to track your success. Diligently monitor consistent metrics so you can see how well you are improving and when you need to make changes to your fundraising plan.
(Bonus tip! Be sure to collect valuable data when carrying out your fundraising plan to help evaluate these metrics and shape your future fundraising plans. Check out Fundly’s guide to nonprofit CRMs for an idea of how your nonprofit can maximize the power of your donor database to improve your fundraising strategy.)
Additionally, one way to help your nonprofit stay on track is to identify upfront what potential challenges or obstacles you will face in the process of achieving your goals.
Some obstacles you might encounter could be:
- Seasonal fundraising dry spells
- Low donor retention
- Failure to obtain major gifts
- Poor fundraising event attendance
- Inadequate online engagement
For example, an animal shelter that wants to increase donor retention by X% over the summer months might identify the challenge of supporters being less engaged during this season since they may be traveling or caring for children on summer vacation. To reach their goal, they’ll need to recognize this challenge and develop strategies to overcome it.
Remember: Use your nonprofit’s history to guide you in identifying roadblocks and deciding on goals. Every nonprofit has its unique strengths and weaknesses and when designing a fundraising plan, it is important to know going in what is reasonable to expect from your organization.
Staying on top of your goals also means staying on top of your fundraising plan’s timeline.
Fundraising plans typically plot out a 3-5 year timeline for your nonprofit, with the first year being very detailed and the following years becoming less defined.
Your fundraising plan’s timeline should be developed into an annual fundraising calendar that details the year’s worth of activities for your organization.
When developing your timeline, keep a few things in mind:
- Milestones. Structure your timeline around a set of core milestones. These will both guide your progress and help you regularly assess your fundraising strategy.
- Accountability. Your timeline (and subsequently, your fundraising calendar) should clearly identify what departments are responsible for individual fundraising activities. This will help keep the different arms of your nonprofit on track and help your departments prioritize tasks throughout the year.
- Accessibility. Your timeline and calendar should be easily accessible to all members of your team, regardless of their department or role. Every team member should be aware of what other departments are up to; this way, they will have a better sense of the big picture of your organization and how your core fundraising goals are being achieved.
Not sure where to start when designing your fundraising plan timeline? Consider enlisting the help of a fundraising consulting firm. If you need a recommendation, DonorSearch has got you covered with their list of the top 11 fundraising consulting firms in the field!
Remember: During the design process, your fundraising timeline should be as specific as possible and you should hold yourself to the timeline as much as you can. However, if you find you are not progressing as quickly as you had planned, identify the roadblock and always give yourself room to edit the timeline if necessary.
A common thread among these tips has been specificity and when plotting out your fundraising plan, it is doubly important to specifically determine your fundraising methods.
It is not sufficient to simply say you will raise $XXX by such-and-such date. You need to plan out how you will raise that money and from whom you will solicit donations.
Fundraising is not a one size fits all process, and you should curate your fundraising methods with your prospects in mind. For example, consider these fundraising methods and how they serve prospects:
- Online donation pages. If your donors cannot all come to you, meet them where they are. Online donation is simply convenient; for nonprofits interested in prospects in varying geographical locations, utilizing optimized online donation tools is a must.
- P2P fundraising. For nonprofits seeking to grow their network of donors, P2P fundraising is a great way to engage constituents online and leverage the power of their social network to help your organization reach a broader audience.
- Text-to-give. Mobile giving is a fundraising style that has been growing in popularity over the last several years. Like online donation pages, text-to-give fundraising makes it convenient for donors to give. Additionally, because donors are not tied to a desktop, they may consider donating more frequently.
- Fundraising events. A strategic fundraising event help you engage donors and bring in major donations, too! Just make sure you plan out your fundraiser well in advance so you have plenty of time to consider important elements, such as the type of event, when and where to host it, and what technology you’ll need to pull it off.
Remember: You should consult your nonprofit’s existing data when determining which prospects to pursue and which fundraising methods best serve your prospect pool. Consider past data and metrics when determining fundraising methods, as well as what has worked for other nonprofits of a similar donor makeup and mission as yours.
Corporate partnerships can be important sources of revenue and support for nonprofits.
When designing your fundraising plan, develop a strategy that will help you achieve corporate partnership so that you do not bypass such a valuable asset.
If you already are partnered with a corporation, consider these ways to leverage that relationship during the fundraising plan design process:
- Event sponsorship. Your corporate partner could agree to sponsor a fundraising event for your nonprofit. With their name and notoriety attached, prospects may be more inclined to participate in your fundraiser.
- Challenge grants. Your corporate partner might be amenable to offering your nonprofit a challenge grant. With a challenge grant, your organization and your partner agree upon a specific fundraising goal. If the goal is met, they might match the amount of funding raised or commit to donating an agreed-upon sum.
- Matching gifts. One of the simplest ways to incorporate corporate philanthropy into your fundraising strategy is to seek out a matching gift tool. In a matching gifts program, a corporation agrees to match the donations of their employees either to a certain percentage of the donation or to a consistent maximum value. With a tool like this one offered by Double the Donation, donors can quickly determine whether their donation might be matched by their employer.
Take a look at DTD’s matching gift tool in action! The donor simply types the name of their company into the tool, and then DTD searches their database to see if they are matching gift-eligible.
Remember: Every nonprofit has unique needs and that extends to any relationship you have with corporate sponsors. You do not have to go after a partnership with a multi-million dollar company if that does not suit the scope of your organization. Partnering with small local businesses can get the job done, especially for regionally-focused nonprofits.
Your case for support underpins the success of your nonprofit, but it is often taken for granted when designing fundraising strategy.
Organizations and hospitals often create cases for support when they launch a capital campaign. These documents outline every detail of the campaign from how the funds will be used to the ways supporters can contribute.
Moreover, the case for support acts as an effective promotional tool to help educate potential donors on the importance of your cause. The content in your case for support can easily be posted on your website or published in a brochure.
While they’re common practice for capital campaigns, organizations should create a case for support as a part of any fundraising strategy.
Donors will not give to your organization unless you have a compelling case for support, so you need to take the time to thoughtfully develop your case.
Your case for support should answer these important questions:
- What is our mission?
- Why should donors give to this cause?
- Why should they give to our organization in particular?
- How much should donors give?
- What specifically will our nonprofit do to achieve our mission?
At all levels of engagement, your nonprofit should actively communicate with donors the ways that your fundraising strategy addresses your case for support. The more compelling your case, the more likely it is that donors will give to your organization.
Remember: Your case for support should govern your fundraising strategy. Just as you should choose fundraising methods that target your prospects, you should similarly design your fundraising plan with your case for support as a foundation.
Your fundraising plan is the single most important tool in your arsenal when enacting a new fundraising strategy. Get closer to achieving your nonprofit’s fundraising goals by designing a detailed fundraising plan today!
- Conduct a Fundraising Feasibility Study: 6 Steps to Success. Capital campaigns can help your nonprofit reach larger goals as part of an effective fundraising plan. But first, you need to conduct a capital campaign feasibility study before your campaign can begin. With our step-by-step guide, your feasibility study is sure to give you the information you need to succeed!
- Top 5 GoFundMe Alternatives. After developing a fundraising plan, your nonprofit may decide to pursue crowdfunding as a way to meet your fundraising goals. You might initially consider GoFundMe as a crowdfunding host, but don’t make your choice so quickly. There are many other crowdfunding sites just like GoFundMe (but better)! Check out our guide for some awesome alternatives.
- 14 Charity Auction Tools. Similarly, your nonprofit might choose to hold a charity auction as a fundraising event. Not only are auctions great ways to raise funding, but they’re also useful events to strengthen your donor relations. Be sure to consult our guide to the 14 best charity auction tools that are perfect for nonprofits of any size!