Over the past two weeks, we have spent time identifying both organizational strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the development of a fundraising plan. The next step is to identify how much money you need, in other words, where are the gaps between the money that has been committed and the amount needed to provide the services you are committed to.
Now, we have an opportunity to figure out how the organization is going to raise the money that is needed to ensure every program and service is “fully funded” for the year. What strategies will you use to generate the funds you need?
The strategies you select will depend, in part, on the purpose and goals of the organization. Be careful that your fundraising activities are not counter-intuitive to the mission of the organization. Try to align fundraising activities to the organization’s strategic plan. And, work to diversify your funding streams. A foundation representative recently told me that it is a red flag to her if an organization has just one or two funding sources.
Diversity in funding streams strengthens an organization because the organization is not overly reliant on just one or two sources of money. For instance, maybe your organization feels financially comfortable because it has one or two large donors that provide the bulk of its funding. But, what happens if the interests of the donor changes, or if the donor passes away, or if the resources of the donor are exhausted? Any of these situations could put the organization in jeopardy as it has to generate funds quickly to replace those that are not coming from the donor. Numerous funding sources allows the organization to spread the risk across multiple streams; the likelihood that they would all end at the same time is usually not highly probable.
Take a look at the fundraising activities that you have engaged in in the past. Have they worked well or not so well? There is no need to eliminate those that have worked well; however, if there are gaps in your funding it may be necessary to add to them. Changing your fundraising events every year can impact your ability to successfully raise money because people mark their calendars and plan to attend well-run fundraising events that they enjoy.
In addition to events, grants, and corporate donations, every organization should include individual donors as part of their fundraising plan. Each year, it should be your goal to increase the number of donors who contribute to the work of the organization and the amount of money each contributes.
Building the number of individual donors will provide the organization with greater financial security as the number of funding streams is diversified. Additionally, money donated by individuals is usually unrestricted meaning it can be used in areas that other funding sources will not cover. Further, individual gifts can usually be “saved,” meaning if you organization meets is financial needs, any extra money can be saved in a reserve account for future organizational needs. Of course, if the donor places any restrictions or stipulations on the donation, these need to be honored.
Take the list of assets that you developed a couple of weeks ago and begin translating them to fundraising uses. Think about how each asset can be used for fundraising purposes. Then, assign tasks to individuals being very careful not to overwhelm anyone with too many tasks.
As you work to build your fundraising plan and avoid overwhelm for those connected to your organization, you may discover that you are in need of additional people to help. The fundraising committee is a great place for volunteers.
Thus far, we have spent a lot of time drafting ideas and brainstorming, now is the time to develop the final plan. Put everything in writing and include:
- The length of the plan – is it written for one year, two years, or the length of a funding campaign?
- A description of your goals – having the goals written down in narrative form will help everyone to visualize them and get on board.
- A plan of action – A calendar that outlines specific tasks will help keep you focused.
- Assign tasks – Using the plan of action assign specific tasks to each person helping.
- Measure success – Define what success will look like before you begin and create measures throughout the length of the plan to see you are on track for success.
- Outline a backup plan – Since life often doesn’t go as we plan, what is your back-up plan to ensure success?
Developing a fundraising plan is a lengthy process, but one well worth the time spent on it. When done well, it can guide your efforts, ensuring everyone is on the same page and generate the funds needed to support the work of the organization.
Need help with a fundraising plan? Contact us, we can help.