If your organization is like many, you take a “seat of the pants” approach to your fundraising. You send a letter out now and then or someone suggests an idea for an event and you throw together a committee to put it on. As a result, it feels like you lurch from one financial crisis to another.
What you need is a plan.
Don’t know how to develop a fundraising plan? Check out The Fundraising Authority’s resource on writing a successful plan. You’ll find a checklist for what your plan should include and suggestions for getting the most out of it.
One major stumbling block to creating a plan is the attitude toward fundraising itself. Many of us view fundraising as a necessary evil at best and we resent the time and energy it takes away from the “real” work of saving our particular corner of the world.
But consider these words of Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen: “From the perspective of the gospel, fundraising is not a response to a crisis. Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission.”
Whether or not your organization is faith-based, this is good advice. Start your development of a fundraising plan by placing it firmly in the context of your organizational mission. When you do that, fundraising stops being a distraction from our work and becomes another way of living out our mission.
As you develop your plan, you will assess the status of various elements of a successful fundraising program:
- Board and staff leadership
- Fundraising infrastructure–software, database, staffing
- Annual fund
- Major gifts
- Year-end efforts
- Planned Giving
As the Fundraising Authority says, there is no shortage of ways to raise money but there are limits to the staff and volunteer resources needed to implement them. Your plan should be very specific about which activities you will use, who will be responsible for them and how much money you expect the effort to generate.
Just as it is important to begin your planning by placing fundraising in the context of your mission, it is important to finish your plan with a timeline. You can have the most comprehensive, creative fundraising plan in the world but unless it’s grounded in a detailed timeline it’s not going anywhere.
So, don’t go much further into this new year without a plan for your fundraising program. About a year from now, when you look back on 2015, you’ll thank yourself. And so will everything else in the particular corner of the world you’re saving.