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Honey, I Shrunk the Fundraising Plan

October 28, 2013

shrunkfundraisingSuccess in fundraising requires intelligence, sensitivity, courage, patience, dedication, integrity, follow-up and follow through. It’s hard, rewarding work.

As obsessed as staff and board members have to be with fundraising to make sure their important work continues, it seems a little bizarre that only 26% of local organizations have a written fundraising plan. 

(This percentage comes from current data from the 350 nonprofits with updated profiles in The Giving Partner.)

If you are sitting in the seat of a funder or donor evaluating a potential grant or gift, imagine the internal conversations you might have if the nonprofit requesting support does not have a written account of how it plans to secure operating and program dollars for the year.

We answer lots of questions about fundraising plans and what we are looking for, specifically in regard to The Giving Partner question. Here are some of the most common ones:

Q: What is a fundraising plan?
A: Preferably, it is not a large, cumbersome document that a fundraising rocket scientist must put together for you. In its most basic form, a fundraising plan provides guidance about:

  • The total dollars you need to raise over the next 12-18 months for your mission and operations.
  • What sources you will approach for funding (individuals, foundations, corporations, board members, etc.) and the vehicles you will use (annual appeal, major gift solicitations, special events, planned giving marketing, collaborations for special grants, etc.) along with the funding goals for each.
  • When and how you will implement the various components of your plan.
  • Who is responsible for each component.

Q:  What format are we looking for?
A: It doesn’t matter. A fundraising plan can come in any number of formats but should specifically convey your major funding goals, fundraising tactics and the timeline you have established for achieving them. The document should be useful for your organization. (The Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s fundraising plan is in the format of a chart, and is quite handy!)

Q: How complex should our plan be?
A: Again, it’s all about your organization. The size and complexity of fundraising plans are variable, depending on the size and complexity of your organization and its fundraising resources. If your organization is all-volunteer or has a small budget, your plan may even be contained on a single page.

Q: Is a list of special events a fundraising plan?
A: No.

Q: How do we get started if we don’t have a plan?
A: The important thing is to start somewhere. Look at last year’s budget and review your sources of revenue. Can you increase individual gifts this year? By what percentage? How might you do that? What new sources of funding can you consider?  What are the resources you will need to implement them?

To upload a fundraising plan in your Giving Partner profile, it doesn’t have to be a work of art. It will not be viewable to the public, but it will help the Community Foundation verify that you have a written plan. Most importantly, it will help everyone on your board (and staff, if you have staff) get on the same page about how you will raise money and measure your success.

This week, we will post some fundraising resources for you. E-mail us at Susie@CFSarasota.org if you have some good suggestions!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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