10 top tips for developing a fundraising plan
The arrival of a global pandemic meant that the fundraising plan for many community organisations went out the window. The fundraising picture became unpredictable as we entered unchartered waters and whilst opportunities emerged, they often required a change of focus and a quick response to make the most of them. As a result, many projects and developments were shelved as energies were focused on survival, core business and addressing the immediate needs of the community. Charities and community organisations everywhere rose to the challenge and their response is something to be proud of.
However, as we cautiously make our way out of the lockdown, the fundraising picture is stabilising to some extent and now might be a good time to establish a new fundraising plan going forward. Over the years I have worked with lots of different charities and community organisations developing fundraising plans and strategies and these are the top 10 tips that I have picked up â€“
1. When thinking about your plans, start with the vision and needs of the organisation and make sure that it fits into any wider organisational strategy/plan.
2. Involve as many people in the planning for your fundraising as you can. Wherever possible include volunteers, beneficiaries (where appropriate), staff from different teams and from all levels of the organisations as well as trustees and senior management. The more people that you can get involved, the more they will feel invested in the plan and will work to make it a success.
3. Including an internal and external positional analysis exercise like S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), is a great place to begin your planning so that you have a clear idea of your starting point. It is also a great way of involving others in the plan by asking them to contribute to the exercise.Â
4. Keep the plan short and simple. Donâ€™t overcomplicate it or write lots of text. Clear headings and bullet points are fine and help you to keep focussed.
5. Clearly state your aims outlining what your plan wants to achieve.
6. Explain how you will achieve these aims by listing your objectives. Make sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Limited) so that you can measure your progress against them.
7. When outlining the financial fundraising targets make sure that they are realistic. Try not to just base them on last year with a little bit extra added on. Instead, look at what is needed and what is achievable with the resources that you have available.
8. Considering the resources that are available to you is vital. It might be that the trustees may need to invest in certain areas to achieve the desired results in fundraising or your specific resources could mean that certain methods of fundraising are more available to you. Resources are not just confined to the fundraiser or fundraising team. They could include the wider beneficiaries of the organisation, wider staff teams or volunteers and their networks and connections. Part of the strategy could involve working towards accessing these resources.
9. Targets should not be entirely financial. There are many ways to measure fundraising progress without just looking at the income coming in. Targets could include numbers of supporters contacted, meetings held with corporates, events attended etc.
10. Recognise that a plan can become out of date the moment that it is written. Keep it live by updating it and referring to it as you monitor your fundraising progress going forward.
There has never been a better or more crucial time to plan than now. It will really help to focus the whole organisation and whatever the future may have in store, with a strong fundraising plan you are giving your organisation the best chance to steer its way towards a bright future!