Many of you are probably knee-deep in your year-end fundraising campaign. But 2014 is less than a month away, and if you haven't starting planning for it, you need to do that now.
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll write about ways you can plan for 2014, which includes creating fundraising and marketing/communications plans, as well as a communications calendar. All are very much interconnected.
Most nonprofit organizations receive the bulk of their revenue through donations, so it's crazy not to have a fundraising plan.
You may have heard the sayings if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and not having a plan is like starting a journey without a map (or programming your GPS). Cliches? Maybe, but they make a lot of sense.
Putting together any kind of plan doesn't need be painful. It will take some time, but it's time well spent. It's a lot better than being taken by surprise when you come up short on revenue.
Ideally, you should have a multi-year fundraising plan that is based on your strategic plan. Here are a few other things to consider as you put together your fundraising plan.
Did you measure your progress in 2013?
I hope you did, because it will make it easier for you if you can factor in what worked and what didn't as you plan for 2014.
How much money do you need to raise?
The revenue part of your fundraising plan is fairly straightforward. Figure out how much money you get from other sources, such as fees, and how much you need to raise. Remember to build in a reserve, too.
Determine how much you want to raise from each source - individuals, grants, events, etc. The funding climate is still precarious, so you need to rely on a variety of sources.
Be realistic about what you can do. Cultivating major donors can be worthwhile, but it takes time to build these relationships and you need to involve your board. Events and online auctions can take up a lot of staff time and sometimes don't bring in that much revenue.
Look at what's worked in the past. Remember, just because you've always done something, doesn't mean you need to continue doing it.
Make it detailed
Fundraising plans don't just cover how much money you are going to raise. You also need to include a strategy. Map out each step of an individual appeal campaign or an event and include a timeline. You don't want to leave anything out.
Also, figure out who will be involved and in what capacity. Make sure to include your board.
Include a donor relations component
Even though your fundraising plan will include ways to find new donors, don't neglect the ones you already have. Donor relations is a crucial, but often overlooked, part of fundraising.
Include ways to thank donors, such as holding an open house or sending out holiday cards, as well as donor communication, such as newsletters and social media updates.
You want your donors to give again and to give at a higher level. This means you need to keep them engaged and interested in your work. Also, as you look for new donors, find ones who will support you long-term.
Measure your progress
Don't ignore your fundraising plan after you finish it. At least once a quarter, check to see if you are on track with your goals. Determine what is working and what isn't. If you are falling short in your grant revenue, perhaps you are applying to foundations that aren't the right match for your organization.
In addition, each time you hold an event or run a campaign, figure what worked, what didn't, and how you can make improvements in the future.
Here is a dashboard you can use to keep track of your progress.
Fundraising Plan 1 Year Template
Photo by 401K via Flickr