4 Key Steps for Creating a Successful Fundraising Plan for Your Non-Profit

by Joe Garecht

The Fundraising Planning Process

Every non-profit, no matter how small or large, needs a written fundraising plan in order to meet its full development potential. Fundraising plans bring order to development offices, provide organization for your strategy, lay out deadlines and responsibilities for key tasks, and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to fundraising goals and objectives.

Writing a great fundraising plan takes time, but needn’t be a stressful endeavor. Here are the four key steps your non-profit will need to work through in order to create a strong development plan:

Step #1: Research

First, you’ll need to gather information and do some research. How has your non-profit traditionally raised money? What is the state of your donor file? How many donors do you have, and at what levels? What tactics have worked for your organization in the past? What tactics have failed, or at least failed to perform as you had hoped? How many prospects do you have? Where can you find more prospects?

Step #2: Meetings and Consensus Building

The next step is to hold a series of meetings (one on one or in small groups) with your staff, your board members, and with some key donors, supporters, and advisors to your non-profit.   During these meetings, you’ll want to see what these key stakeholders think about your organization’s fundraising efforts. Talk to them about what programs and mission-related items they’d like to see your non-profit engaged in, and try to build some consensus on the direction for your fundraising efforts for the coming year.

Step #3: Writing the Plan

Once your research and stakeholder meetings are complete, it’s time to sit down and write the plan. I have found that it is usually best to have just one person writing the plan. Many organizations and consultants would argue with me on this point and suggest a team effort, with each team member taking responsibility for a different portion of the plan. I have found this method to lead to disjointed fundraising plans where the constituent parts don’t add up to a strong whole.

I do think you should get a team together to discuss and revise the plan, but I advise having one extremely competent person sit down to write the first draft in its entirety. Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, this person may need 1-3 weeks to actually write the plan. I would then bring the whole team in once the plan is written, for the purposes of refining and strengthening it.

Step #4: Building Support

Once the plan has been completed, reviewed, edited and strengthened, it’s ready for prime time. You should now “shop the plan around” to your staff, your board and some of your key donors to get their support for the plan. I also suggest going through the formal step of having the board of directors vote to approve the plan. This puts the board on the record as supporting the initiatives contained in the plan, and makes it easier when it comes time for your staff to seek the board’s help with fundraising.

By using these four steps, your organization can ensure that your new fundraising plan touches all the bases, includes input from as many stakeholders as possible, and enjoys wide-ranging support inside your non-profit.

Photo Credit: Reyner Media


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Joe May 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm

After a plan is initially constructed, selling the plan to internal stakeholders is critical. Getting a broad consensus early will help things running smoothly further down the line.

Joe Garecht May 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Agreed! Great point Joe. If you don’t have a consensus on your fundraising plan, it’s unlikely that your plan will come to fruition.

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