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