When not-for-profits first start up, fundraising can be an ad hoc process, with intense campaigns followed by fallow periods. As organizations grow and acquire staff and support, they generally decide that fundraising needs to be ongoing. But it can be hard to maintain focus and momentum without a strategic plan. Here’s how to create one.
Building on past experience
The first step to a solid fundraising plan is to form a committee. This should consist of board members, your executive director and other key staffers. You may also want to include major donors and active community members.
Committee members need to start by reviewing past sources of funding and past fundraising approaches and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each. Even if your overall efforts have been less than successful, some sources and approaches may still be worth keeping. Next, brainstorm new donation sources and methods and select those with the greatest fundraising potential.
As part of your plan, outline the roles you expect board members to play in fundraising efforts. For example, in addition to making their own donations, they can be crucial links to corporate and individual supporters.
Developing an action plan
Once the committee has developed a plan for where to seek funds and how to ask for them, it’s time to create a fundraising budget that includes operating expenses, staff costs and volunteer projections. After the plan and budget have board approval, develop an action plan for achieving each objective and assign tasks to specific individuals.
Most important, once you’ve set your plan in motion, don’t let it sit on the shelf. Regularly evaluate the plan and be ready to adapt it to organizational changes and unexpected situations. Although you want to give new fundraising initiatives time to succeed, don’t be afraid to cut your losses if it’s obvious an approach isn’t working.
Maintaining strong cash flow
Don’t wait until your nonprofit’s coffers are nearly dry before firing up a fundraising campaign. Fundraising should be ongoing and constantly evolving.
As always, please reach out to WCS for advice on maintaining strong cash flow.