A question that I am often asked is “what is the value of a fundraising plan?” Isn’t it another task that requires a lot of time and efforts and those are always scarce? I believe that having a comprehensive development plan is the best investment that a development staff can make at the beginning of a fiscal year. It adds value to your organization because it becomes the central nervous system of your activities.
A good development plan is a strategic plan, a calendar, a financial document, a dream sheet, and a road map all rolled into one. It is a “How To” manual that you and your team have created. It empowers everyone because it is information that can be used for multiple purposes.
It is a living document and it is also an historical one. You can think of it as the stage manager’s production book. Additional information can be added to the document without removing previous information, often a drawback with some electronic database.
With this information everyone will be on the same page. This “How to” manual is the ownership of the team that puts it together. It permits everyone to be aware of and understand the internal and external forces that are shaping our working lives.
The best way to make sure that it remains of value is to have it constantly at hand. I recommend setting thirty minutes once a month to discuss it as a team. Things are changing all the time and this is the place to make sure that major corrections are notated. Sooner or later someone will come knocking at your door with great urgency about why a request was altered, why a grant was changed, which donors were invited to an event and why not others. The plan is the place where this is all recorded. We have back up elsewhere, but this is the start and end place for most searches.
The value of having this plan around is that it makes your work much more proficient. It is an efficiency comes from knowing how far you are from the finish line even when everything else around you is changing.
The fundraising plan bridges the gap between reality and our culture of relentless optimism. Through the process of building a plan and living it with it, honest answers are clearer. It increases your confidence of what can be achieved and when. The sooner that information is acknowledged and shared, the better it is for everyone.