Adding A Fundraising Plan To Your Annual Operations by Carl Sylvestre

A new fiscal year is full of hope and uncertainties and as usual the big question is “will we have the funding to achieve the goals over the next twelve months”? For many organizations this maybe the only time until the frantic closing months of the fiscal year that these questions are seriously considered, unless there is an unforeseen major catastrophe. In good or bad times, vigilance is delegated to the finance office. The development staff is usually asked to supply up to date fundraising information as needed, when it is required in a grant application, or just before a board meeting. Is this the most efficient way to make sure that the resources are in place to accomplish the important services that we have to deliver?

What is often lacking to facilitate a better approach is a comprehensive fundraising plan that is tied to the organization’s programs and cash flow.

What is a fundraising plan? It is best to think of the fundraising plan as a road map for a long trip. It tells you where the rest stops are, the sights to see, the areas of possible detours, and it also has the gas-meter telling you when to stop and refuel. A well-planned trip can be calm even when a bad storm unexpectedly arrives.

A comprehensive fundraising plan is a document, which discusses in detail:

  • All sources of income with an analysis of the risks involved
  • The probability of achieving a goal based on past performances
  • An analysis of the strength and weakness of your programs
  • The action steps needed to achieve success
  • The listing of critical dates to submit materials with clear markers on when money will start arriving in your coffers

It is a narrative that goes hand in hand with your organization’s on-going activities and is tied to your cash flow. Thus, at any given time, if the question is where are we today in terms of fundraising, the answer is always readily at end.

In a fundraising plan, the language and information is written simply and organized in such a way as to provide access to key information as quickly as possible. As an example, under “Government Funding” there is a listing of various state funding agencies in alphabetical order. On a summary sheet for each of these agencies, you’ll find at a glance the listing of due dates for each part of a proposal, the amount that is being requested and for what program, critical dates for responses, follow up strategies and key contacts. For anyone interested on additional information beyond the summary page, there is a history of the organization’s relationship with this funding agency, summary of past feedback and a funding history at a glance. Once this information is well organized in a binder, you will find that it becomes your development’s office bible and that it can be shared with all interested parties. You’ll wonder how you lived without one for so long

The development plan is your road map. Plan it well and you won’t want to leave home without it.