#1 Best Advice for You in 2014: Create a Formal Fund Development Plan

Okay, I can hear what you are saying to yourself: “I don’t have time to create a formal, written fund development plan.  I have too much work to do!”

I’m here to tell you that taking the time and effort to create a formal, written fund development plan is the best investment of your time you will make all year.


Why?  I’ll give you six reasons:

1.     Your plan allows everyone on your team and in your organization to be on the same page.

Your plan is documentation of how much you intend to raise this year and the strategies that will get you there.  It’s a great tool for making sure you, your CEO, your board and your other development staff are on the same page regarding goals, budget and selected strategies.

Your plan is also a great educational tool that helps everyone understand what it actually costs in time and money to meet your goals, and how each of them can contribute to the effort.


2.     Your plan creates confidence with your donors that you will be successful.

Your plan allows you to demonstrate to your donors how their giving fits into your overall plan and instills confidence that can accomplish your organizational goals.

So when do you share your fund development plan with a donor?  You will probably never share your entire plan with a donor, but you can share portions (such as a gift chart) or you can create a public version of your plan that gives an overview of goals and strategies.


3.     Your plan keeps you (and everyone else) focused.

Once your plan is written, presented and adopted, it’s harder to get sidelined by opportunities and ideas that pop up and distract you from your greater purpose.  “I’m sorry, that raffle (or bake sale!) isn’t in our fund development plan this year.”

Your plan is a document that you return to over and over throughout the year to help keep you on target.  If your plan calls for 5 donor visits per week, you are much more likely to get those meetings done.


4.     Your plan identifies exactly how the money will come in.

Your plan helps you identify exactly the sources and strategies you will employ to (realistically) raise what is needed.  It’s easy to say you’ll increase your fundraising dollars by 10%, but where will the money come from?  Through your plan you can identify which strategies will get you that increase, monitor your strategies and make mid-year adjustments as needed.


5.     Your plan allows you to know what is working and what isn’t.

A good plan, coupled with good record keeping and monitoring, allows you to set, monitor, adjust and evaluate your plan throughout the year and from year-to-year.  If one strategy is costing $.50 to raise $1.00 while another is costing $.10 to raise a $1.00, you can shift your energy and focus to the strategy with a greater return on investment and begin to increase your overall success from year to year.


6.     Your plan encourages you to manage your time and projects for maximum benefit.

A good fund development plan also includes a timeline and calendar so that you can map out your fund development strategies over the year, giving you greater control over your time and resources.


What’s in a plan? 

  • Sources of funding
  • Fundraising strategies
  • Financial goals and history
  • Action steps and assignment of responsibility
  • Measurable outcomes
  • Timeline and calendar
  • Budget for expenses and revenue
  • Dashboard report to be utilized regularly for measuring progress
  • Public summary


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