The Fundraising Plan: An Introduction

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Sections of this topic

    This is one of the most important aspects of a successful Development program, but it’s a subject that needs a lot more attention than it gets.

    An organization’s development/fundraising plan, once formulated, provides the map, the guidelines for doing what must be done to raise the funds an organization needs to operate/survive. Sticking with the “map” analogy for a moment, it shows you the route you must take to get to where you want/need to be … and where you want to end up.

    A Fundraising Plan addresses what will need to be done in order to raise a dollar amount that has, through the above-described process, been deemed attainable.

    Typically, an organization should be creating a “new” fundraising plan each year. As circumstances change, like the economy, as there are changes in a nonprofit’s leadership and/or staff, as new potential donors are identified and as more is learned about current donors, a fundraising plan must change, must adapt to any/all changes.

    The first question that you should be asking is, “What is a fundraising plan?”

    So, I’ll start by noting what a Fundraising Plan isn’t: A Fundraising Plan is not the equivalent of “Let’s Put On A Play,” or “Let’s have a Bake Sale.” A Fundraising Plan is not just a list of activities. It is not a wish list.

    A fundraising plan, more than anything, must be a reflection of reality. It must be based on what you know … not on what you think you know or would like to be true, but on fact. A fundraising plan addresses all types of fundraising that your organization will be doing for the coming year. It includes mass solicitation (mail, email, telephone), individual solicitation (major gifts, planned gifts), foundation applications, corporate solicitation and special events (not fundraisers).

    Usually, for a new/young organization, very little is “known.” You don’t know who the people/foundations/corporations are who would be likely to support you if they knew about your mission/purpose; and, you don’t know why potential donors would want to support you – and their reasons will rarely relate to how good you think your organization might be or how strongly you believe in your mission.

    So, obviously, you must first learn who those people are and what would cause them to want to support you.

    For a new nonprofit, the founders, their families, their friends, their families’ friends, and their friends’ friends are the most likely (prospective) donors. They will give because the people that are asking are people they care about … they will support those people … not necessarily the mission.

    Please note:
    1. We do not advocate the use of “fundraisers,” to the contrary,
        as those activities can’t be relied upon for ongoing/long-term support.

    2. Better than two-thirds of funding for nonprofit organizations comes from
        large gifts from individual donors. If you’re looking for funding, you should
        look at where most funds come from !!

    Next week’s posting will look at a Fundraising Plan for a New Organization.

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