Okay, So What’s the Plan?

January is one of those times when the whole world seems to be in “planning mode.” We’re making resolutions, we’re passing the budget, we’re optimistic about all we can achieve this year. But it’s one thing to say you’re going to do it…and it’s another thing to actually get it done.

I recently read a great article from my friends at Front Range Source with a general fundraising calendar for the whole year. This doesn’t take the place of your Fundraising Plan, but it could kickstart some discussions and thoughts about key deadlines and benchmarks. 

Here’s a quick summary of what they suggested, but I highly recommend you read the full article

January – Analyze your results and get your plan set for the new year.

February – Get your messaging straight.

March – Ask you LYBUNTs (gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This)

April – Review your welcome packet.

May – Focus on stewardship and major gifts.

June – Make sure your website is up to snuff.

July – Analyze results from the year so far.

August – Pay attention to the board.

September – Plan out your year-end campaign.

October – All asks should be out.

November – Follow up on major gift asks.

December – Follow up on ALL asks.

This fundraising calendar helps you to see the year at-a-glance. You can do this! It doesn’t all have to happen this month. And with a detailed strategic annual fundraising plan, you will know exactly how to spend your time. Cheers to the New Year!

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Posted in Fundraising Plan, Individual Giving

Do You Have a Strategic Annual Fundraising Plan?

I enjoy teaching nonprofit professionals how to create a strategic annual fundraising plan. I know that many fundraisers don’t feel this is necessary or don’t have a consistent process they follow, but I think creating a plan every year is VERY important. After all, creating a plan helps you to:

Think strategically: Creating a plan helps you take the time to look at what you’re doing and think about what is working and what isn’t working. It forces you to reconnect to the strategic purpose behind your tactics and can reveal areas where you have lost sight of that strategic purpose.

Set realistic but challenging goals: Every organization approves a budget every year. And most organizations base fundraising goals on last year’s success (or lack thereof). But then many organizations proceed to do all the same things they did last year…and are surprised when the numbers don’t go up. Creating a plan involves several steps before setting your goals, so you are more likely to create targets that are achievable.

Value new and existing donors: How much of your time is spend on acquisition of new donors? How about retention and upgrade of existing donors? Analyzing the time you spend on these activities can reveal opportunities for improvement. A plan makes sure you address both groups effectively.

Analyze events: One of my pet peeves is hearing an organization introduce their “First Annual ____.” Besides the fact that you can’t have a first annual event until the second year, these organizations have already decided to host the same event EVERY year before they have evaluated whether it’s working. A plan encourages you to evaluate every event beyond revenue and expenses. What is the strategic purpose for your event? Are you reaching the right audience? Take the time to answer these questions and more first before continuing blindly with the same event.

Spread out responsibility: I know many organizations with a very small development “department” and others have many, but almost all the ones I have worked with and for feel like they need more staff. Creating a plan helps to spread out the responsibility of all the tasks. Looking at all that needs to be accomplished can be overwhelming, but at least you know what you’re up against. Involve other stakeholders in the process and get their buy-in to help along the way.

If it’s been a while since you have written your own strategic annual fundraising plan, you’re not alone! I can share my worksheet on how to create a plan, or we can work on a plan together if you prefer. Either way, I would be happy to help.

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Posted in Fundraising Plan