What are the basics for developing and implementing a fundraising plan?

Your plan is a road map that outlines your approach to fundraising via any (or all) of the fundraising sources we describe in this section. One of the most important aspects of any plan is the case statement. This should succinctly explain why your issue and organization are great investments for a funder. It might, for example, point to research that demonstrates how effective your type of intervention is from an economic, health and/or social standpoint. It should also serve to differentiate your organization, implicitly conveying why donors should give to your organization above all others. The power of this message, and your ability to constantly communicate it, will underpin all of your fundraising efforts.

The fundraising plan also outlines who you’re going to target, for what programs and for how much. Importantly, it aligns with your mission, identifies the strategies and tactics you’ll employ to connect with prospects, and sets a timeline for implementation. Done properly, the plan can be a critical roadmap to determine where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Your fundraising plan is an important test of whether your overall organizational plan is realistic, as it sets the direction for your staff and also serves as an important tool to engage your board.

It’s useful to separate your plan into types of donors (e.g., foundations, high-net-worth individuals, the public, etc.), as the strategies for reaching each of these will vary drastically. Once you’ve identified the types of donors you’ll be targeting, identify them specifically. This won’t be practical in the case of the general public, but each of the other areas should be populated with specific individuals and organizations you plan to approach. Try to be thorough; but remember, you can always add to these in the future as new opportunities arise.

From there, create a strategy for how you plan to reach your prospective donor. This should be a blend of the funding needed by the organization and the interests and desires of the prospect. For example, if you’re developing a new web-based educational platform, your message to an education funder might be quite different than your message to a technology company. The latter might be more interested in the technology component than the content.

For each fundraising activity, outline the tasks required, timeline, lead staff, implementation cost and fundraising goals. This will establish a system to which individuals can be held accountable and give a good picture of the amount of staff or board effort required.

One other thing: Most states require you to register if you plan to solicit funds there (and this can get sticky if you’re raising money online). The Multi-State Filer Project, organized by the National Association of State Charities Officials and the National Association of Attorneys General, eases that process with the Unified Registration Statement (http://www.multistatefiling.org/) – a single application that’s accepted by all but three of the states requiring registration.

Remember! Before you develop your full plan:

  1. Start with your mission, organization plan and budget, and outline the programs and services for which funding is sought.
  2. Review historical data (past budgets and fundraising efforts) to estimate future needs and identify where you have or have not been successful.
  3. Determine your fundraising goals for each program and for operating costs – these will arise out of your operational budget.
  4. Assess sources of previous funding and establish realistic goals to diversify your funding base if necessary.

Fundraising FAQ

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