The heart of a good fundraising plan is determining your goals. Start with a discussion among senior staff (executive director, development director, board, senior leaders). This may seem obvious, but development staff can often be omitted from organizational financial decisions and program discussions. As a development leader, you can share insight on what is realistic to raise given the context of your current and previous fiscal years’ fundraising trends.
Step 1: Review your previous year’s campaigns.
- What worked? How will you incorporate those tactics again this year?
- What didn’t? Were the ideas themselves unsuccessful or can you improve your execution?
Step 2: Conduct a SWOT analysis of your organization.
A SWOT analysis can be both enlightening and encouraging. It will help you honestly asses what makes your organization unique, and where you have room to grow. This can narrow your fundraising focus for more successful results.
- Strengths–What makes your nonprofit stand out from your competition?
- Weaknesses–What disadvantages do you face?
- Opportunities–What’s occurring locally or nationally that you can take advantage of?
- Threats–What obstacles might prevent you from reaching your goals?
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors; opportunities and threats are external forces. A SWOT analysis can help you with everything from annual planning to marketing initiatives to choosing what program to financially support.
Step 3: Analyze your data from the last two years.
- Did you raise what your organization needed? How were you successful? What held you back? What could you do differently?
- Calculate your donor retention rate and average gift amount. How has that tracked over the past couple of fiscal years?
- How does your fundraising revenue break down and what were your fundraising expenses for each area of focus?
- Annual Fund
- Corporate Gifts
- Foundation Grants
- Major Gifts
- Membership Dues (if applicable)
Step 4: Determine your goals for the year.
Based on your data and brainstorming session, you’re now ready to map out your financial goals for the year. Don’t forget to set qualitative goals as well as quantitative ones. In addition to your financial goals, what else do you want to focus on to grow your organization? Here are some ideas:
- Increase board participation.
- Boost volunteer giving.
- Test strategies to acquire new donors.
- Increase outreach to younger donors (Millennials, GenX)
- Grow monthly giving program.
- Steward current donors to upgrade their giving.
- Improve email open and click-through rates.
- Grow direct mail response rates.
- Launch a planned giving program.
- Increase social media followers and engagement.
If you’re unable to answer the planning questions, or it takes forever to pull together your data, it’s time to invest in fundraising software. The last thing you want to do is repeat past mistakes or continue doing something that isn’t yielding results. Understanding how (and where) funds have been raised in the past helps you map out a solid plan to build your fundraising goals and strategies for the year.
Want more planning insight? Download our popular eGuide, Create a Fundraising Plan That Will Propel Your Nonprofit Forward, for a deeper dive on how to start your year with a strong fundraising plan.