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Mistake #5 – Not Having an Annual Fundraising Plan

The fifth and final mistake I see many nonprofits make is not having an annual fundraising plan. They set their budget goals, but don’t actually break down those goals into some kind of action plan. In fact, I see lots of organizations that set a budget goal that’s higher than last year, but then proceed to do everything the same way as the year before. Can you guess the results?

Some don’t have an annual fundraising plan because they are too busy and they think it takes too much time. Others don’t have one because the only plans they have seen are dozens of pages long and don’t get used once they are finished. Still others don’t have a plan because they don’t know where to start.

I believe that you can take valuable time to write a concise and helpful plan with the right process. An annual fundraising plan forces you to think strategically, instead of just going through the motions. It also helps you to set a realistic budget since you have to show how you will achieve those numbers. A plan should encourage you to focus on individual donors and not just grants and events. In fact, a good annual plan will include an analysis of current special events and determine which ones should continue (see mistake #4 blog post). Finally, an annual fundraising plan should determine who is responsible for what and by when. That means YOUR name cannot appear next to every line of the plan!

“Okay, okay, I’m convinced!” Now what?

A simple annual fundraising plan should involve the following 6 steps:

1 – What We Know: Reconnect to your vision, mission and values and complete a quick SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

2 – What We Can Improve: Analyze your current fundraising strategies. What is their strategic purpose? Acquisition, Retention, and/or Upgrade? Analyze your special events looking at all the costs and benefits (beyond revenue and expense).

3 – Where We’re Going: Now you’re ready to set some fundraising goals using the information you have already reviewed. Make sure you set goals for a diverse range of funding sources including individual giving, grants, events, corporate, and earned income. You might also have goals for volunteers and development infrastructure that will directly impact fundraising goals.

4 – How We’ll Do It: This is the step where you break down those big goals into objectives. Don’t get into ridiculous detail, just figure out the big steps and how to make your goals achievable. These should be measurable.

5 – Who Will Do It and When: Now the team (even if the team is volunteers) determines who will be responsible for which goals/objectives and what deadline should be associated with each one.

6 – Implementation: The time you spend on this process certainly won’t be worth it if you don’t implement the plan! Some people like to put the goals and objectives into a spreadsheet document that can be shared and updated easily. Others like to break it down into objectives that need to be completed this month, this quarter, and this year – then move items up as they are complete. Whichever way works best for you, using some type of document will not only keep you on track, it will make it easier to complete your plan next year.

So there you have it! You can avoid the 5 biggest mistakes nonprofits make if you can:
• Focus on individual contributions
• Ask volunteers for money
• Value existing donors
• Analyze every event, every year
• Have an annual fundraising plan

As always, I am here to answer your questions or help you avoid these mistakes. Visit the “contact” page to connect with me directly.

Posted in Fundraising Mistakes

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