Fund Times

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Stop the Paper Chase…and Plan September 7, 2010

Filed under: foundations,individual donors,strategic fundraising — fundtimes @ 8:31 pm

September has finally arrived.  You and your staff survived the intense summer heat.  You navigated unending conversations that started with, “well in these tough economic times”.  And your nonprofit is on course to meet its revenue goals for the year!  Time to put that tacky fundraising thermometer away.  Or is it?

With less than four months until the start of the new year, now is the time to create a detailed plan that will guide your fundraising strategy for 2011 (and beyond for you overachievers out there).  Taking this step will not only ensure that you are prepared to raise much-needed financial resources, but it will keep you from compromising your mission in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Below are some quick tips to help you get started:

  • Incorporate fundraising goals into the budgeting process. When creating your organizational budget for the coming year, be sure to include a fundraising goal for each of your programs.  Oftentimes, nonprofits lump the entire revenue goal as a line-item in their budget, only separating it out according to the source of funding (e.g., foundations, individuals, etc.).  This makes sense when presenting the budget to outsiders, but staff and board members should be aware of the specific dollar amount that needs to be raised (per project) in order to meet the full organizational goal.
  • Identify financial prospects. The key to a solid fundraising plan is one that is diverse in its sources.  If we haven’t learned anything in these “tough economic times” (sigh, now I’m doing it), we should understand the importance of not relying solely on any one source of funding.  As you plan for the coming year, consider incorporating some of the following sources in your fundraising strategy: 
    • Individual Donors. Current donors are your best bet for ongoing financial support for the coming year.  If you haven’t already talked to them about continued support, consider starting the conversation this fall.  Depending on where you currently are in meeting your 2010 budget, you may want to ask current donors to make an additional contribution to help your organization reach its year-end goals. (The October 2010 issue of Fund Times will outline the “how-to’s” of a year-end fundraising campaign in more detail.)
    • Foundations. Current funders are also an easy crowd to win over as you plan for 2011.  Depending on when your current grant is up for renewal and the foundation’s grant cycle, you may want to contact your program officer to begin the discussion this fall.
    • Events. If you don’t already have an annual fundraising event, consider implementing one for the coming year.  Everybody loves a good party (especially one where there’s wings and free alcohol), so mingling in the name of a good cause is always a sure bet to bring in additional revenue.
    • Board-Giving Campaign. This should go without saying, but your organizational fundraising strategy must include tapping the pockets of its board members annually.  All board members should give, no matter what the amount.  After all, if a board member won’t give to its organization, why should anyone else?

  • Create a detailed fundraising plan. Now that you have a budget and potential funding sources, you now need to create a strategic plan for approaching them.  This plan should include dates, specific staff assignments (and board members, as necessary), tasks, and a system for tracking progress.  This plan should be reviewed by everyone involved at least twice a month (or more, if possible) to ensure the fundraising momentum continues.  There’s nothing worse than coming up with a fancy excel spreadsheet, only to have it sit on someone’s desktop.   

As you know, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel in the nonprofit sector.  So, if your organization is doing some stellar fundraising planning for the coming year, leave a comment here and let us all know!

Not sure how to incorporate fundraising planning in your organization? Contact me at tamar.cloyd{at} and I can help you get started today.


4 Responses to “Stop the Paper Chase…and Plan”

  1. Kelly Reid Says:

    I love the suggestions of representing fundraising goals by project in our budget! I think it could foster a greater sense of accountability for fundraising across the whole organization.

    Great post! I’m looking forward to October.

  2. […] 23rd Hour October 5, 2010 Filed under: Uncategorized — fundtimes @ 12:21 am In the September issue of Fund Times, I highlighted the importance of planning in ensuring a steady stream of income for […]

  3. […] at GreatNonprofits.  Hopefully, what you hear/see will help to better inform your giving in these tough…economic…times […]

  4. […] your intentions. Before you start out on a paper chase, make sure that you have a written narrative of what your organization does.  For example, you […]

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