“ A goal without a plan is just a wish.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Do you have goals? Maybe your goal is, we need funding. Your response, let’s raise money! You feel like you are on an endless loop. I worked with an executive director once that felt that way. To make matters worse his spending got cut and then he was struggling to figure out how to move forward. He came to me asking about a fundraising plan. This executive director had come to the conclusion that – planning his fundraising was needed.


The reasons he needed a fundraising plan are probably the same reasons you need a plan. Let’s walk through those reasons and see if they resonate with you.


Manage Resources

The executive director in our story, let’s call him Peter, was facing budget cuts. The first thing he needed was to manage the resources he had. Those resources included a staff, a donor list with major donors, and a newly renovated facility. His staff was feeling overwhelmed with no direction to go in. They thought the answer was to do more of the same to make up the difference. His donor list was a good size but he had maxed out his major donors on the recent renovation and didn’t feel comfortable going back to them so soon. We formulated a plan that helped him evenly distribute the fundraising activities among his staff so they were consistent, intentional, and focused on activities that we knew would raise money.


We set up open houses for major donors to steward the relationships without an ask. The open house gave the organization an opportunity to show off what these donors had accomplished and thank the donors for renovating the facilities. We also gave those invited an opportunity to invite others to share in the accomplishment. This opened the nonprofit to others. Using this activity, we were able to manage the relationship with major donors.


Set Goals


When Peter and I talked about how much funding the organization needed and calculated the shortfall, we had a very specific goal. We were then able to break that very big goal down into very manageable amounts per fundraising activity. With these activities spread out throughout the year, Peter knew when the next funding was coming. He also could measure the activities effectiveness against the goal and make changes as needed.


Find Opportunities And Take Advantage Of Them


There was a large market through a community event that hadn’t been seen as an opportunity because they had been stuck in the fog of confusion. When we began putting together an actual plan, we were able to think outside the box and see opportunities. We found a way to take action and turn the opportunity into a fundraising activity. This new activity helped to bridge the funding gap.


As an example, I knew of a church that did the same thing. They were in a college town and homecoming was a huge community event. One of the problems with the event was that parking was at a premium. So the church decided to open up their parking lot to anyone that wanted to come. They provided a shuttle service to and from the event and decided to turn it into a fundraising event by selling tickets to a carnival type event and have food before the people departed for the community event. This is an excellent example of how you can see opportunities in the community and tie a fundraising event to your organization.


Get On The Same Page


Once the plan was complete, Peter was able to run it by his staff and his Board. They had a direction, actionable steps, and goals to achieve. They finally felt like a team working for the same goal. Peter emailed me thanking me. He had a renewed hope and with a determined statement proclaimed “we can do this together!“


A year later Peter followed up with me on his fundraising plan. He told me that in a year where he was down 12% of his spending every single month his team was able to raise more money than they had ever raised. As you can tell from Peter and his experience, planning your fundraising is a worthwhile endeavor. We are a few weeks away from a new year and now it’s a good time to put a fundraising plan together.  Find direction, security, and a new hope in 2020.

What is holding you back from creating a fundraising plan? Tell me in the comments below or join the conversation in the Facebook group At the Top: Small Nonprofit Leaders.

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