The Simplest Fundraising Plan

January is the time to put the finishing touches on your fundraising plan and to think big about what your non-profit wants to achieve for the year. The simplest fundraising plan has the following parts:

Summary of your past fundraising results

How much came in last year as a result of your efforts? Usually, this is grouped by individual giving, foundation giving, board giving, corporate giving, and money raised by events. You can organize this in any way that makes sense to you. The main thing you want to understand is which strategies are working the best and which groups have the most potential.
For online giving, take a look at which emails yielded the best results and find out the sources of traffic to your donation page (available in google analytics). Compare your results to M+R Benchmarks and see where you are above average and where you need to improve.

Set fundraising goals for the upcoming year

For some organizations, the amount they need to raise is clearly tied to the strategic plan. For others, it can be less clear. Think about how much you need to raise to keep the program going at the same rate? What could the organization achieve if more was brought in? Looking at your past results, make projections on where you think the money will be coming from. Be sure to flag places where you project growth.
For online giving, set goals based on segments and campaigns – maybe you can increase monthly donors, increase the average gift size of new donors, increase the number of new donors, or increase your response rate to campaigns.

Detail the work the organization needs to do to achieve these goals

If you’re counting on renewing 50% of your individual donors, you know you will need resources (time, technology, content, events, volunteers, staff, board participation) specifically aimed at donor retention. Identify, specifically, where those resources will be used and if applicable, where you will draw the resources from.
For online giving, research any new technology you’ll need to reach your goals such as text-to-give or a peer-to-peer platform or investment in cleaning up your database.

Make your fundraising calendar

It is tempting to think of this as a big to-do list but it’s better to think about it as a map of opportunities to connect with your donors. Think about how your donors and potential donors are feeling and thinking throughout the year – what’s the opportunity to connect about your mission? If they are thinking about Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s a good time to think about donating to help save a life, spreading love to those in need, or donating blood. The point is to connect your mission to your donor’s life. The more you connect, the more you will raise. Also think through opportunities to build your list, thank existing donors, and introduce your organization to new people.
For online giving, outline a few pilot programs you might want to try or questions you have that can be answered through testing (for example, what’s the ideal timing to ask for a second gift? What percentage of donors prefer to give by monthly donations?)

Want to get more detailed in your planning? Check out these planning resources:

Wild Apricot has an article about How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan. We especially like the section on thinking through fundraising trends.
Get Fully Funded has a guide specifically for new non-profits. So if you yelled “but I don’t have any past results” when you started reading this article, check out this Fundraising Plan Template for New Nonprofits.