Do you know exactly how your organization is going to raise funds? If you don’t have a solid plan that sets out what you’ll do to get to your goal, it can be stressful. Plus, there’s a much bigger chance that you’ll be unsuccessful in your efforts.
Has your organization been holding off on putting together a detailed fundraising plan? If so, you’re not alone.
Creating an effective plan can be hard, especially if your goals are likely to change on a regular basis. But it can help you avoid having to make compromises or dip into operating reserves.
What you need is a fundraising roadmap.
Think of a fundraising roadmap as a plan of action that guides your fundraising activity. It sets out what your fundraising objectives are and how you’ll meet them. This can be for the year ahead or for a multi-year plan.
Having a fundraising roadmap makes it a lot easier to stay organized when it comes to raising funds. It can help you to avoid wasting precious time and resources on fundraising strategies that are unlikely to get results.
Because the bulk of the planning is done upfront, you can steer clear of last-minute panics. Everyone involved in your fundraising activities will know what is expected of them and what the plan of action is.
Plus, you don’t have to rush to react to situations. You’re planning ahead and have plenty of time to work on impressing potential donors and planning successful fundraising events. There’s far less potential for drifting away from your original plans.
You can use your fundraising roadmap as a fundraising tool too. A fundraising roadmap can communicate your mission, plans, and goals to potential funders. Show it to stakeholders, large donors, potential partners, and foundations, for example.
They’ll be able to see that you have a solid plan that has been well thought out. They can see the impact that their support will have, which, in turn, can make them more likely to back you with funds.
First of all, spend a bit of time thinking about what you’re raising funds for and how much you’ll need.
The cost of delivering programs and services is the obvious thing to focus on here. It’s only part of the story for most organizations though.
Factor in your planned expenses too. This includes things like administration, overhead and staffing costs.
You may find that your total operating budget for the year ahead is higher or lower than you expected. This can be more likely if your organization hasn’t reviewed its financial goals for a while.
Armed with these figures, you’ll know what to raise to deliver your mission and meet overheads.
Pro tip: Understanding and setting out your organization’s Internal Rate of Return (IRR) can help donors see how their support can help you to be more sustainable. Large donors can often be encouraged by this as they see the long term benefits of their donations.
The next step in your fundraising roadmap involves assessing your current financial situation. Knowing what funds are going to be coming in is a big part of this.
Do you have any committed funding sources in place already? This could be from grants, membership programs or private sponsorship, for example.
Work out what income you can definitely rely on and compare it to the figure you reached in step 1. This gives you the shortfall that you’ll need to raise from other funding sources.
Reflecting on your previous fundraising efforts can guide your plans this time around.
Linking them back to your nonprofit’s mission can help too. Has your mission changed since you were first founded? If so, the programs and services that your organization offers may need to change too.
Reassessing how your mission and service delivery align is a key step in your roadmap. If you’ll be using it as an external fundraising tool, this is particularly important.
Does your organization carry out similar fundraising events every year? If you’ve not recently assessed how well they’re working for you, it’s time to change that!
Look at how much time and money your organization has spent on campaigns. What results did this create? Identify any activities that you could improve on or replace with other campaigns.
A SWOT campaign can be useful for highlighting Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Think about factors such as:
Reviewing threats and weaknesses can give valuable insights for making improvements.
Donor retention may be key here. When you review your past campaigns, you may find that a lot of people donated once and then disappeared. If your organization can retain more donors, you can often be less reliant on new funding sources.
You can also look at what other nonprofit organizations are doing to raise funds. Analyze both local organizations and ones with a similar mission to yours. Examining their strategies may open your eyes to ideas that you haven’t been using.
Pro tip – You may have to ask some challenging questions about whether your current way of doing things is really the best option. Are you definitely investing your time and resources into the right methods?
How will you look to meet your organization’s shortfall?
A few things to think about:
With the information you have now, you can create a list of fundraising activities to meet your goals. Estimate how much you think you’ll spend on expenses linked to the activity, as well as how much you plan to raise.
The resources that you have at your disposal may affect your fundraising efforts.
If you’re a small nonprofit, you may have a limited budget for fundraising. There may also be only a few staff that can spend some of their time on fundraising.
Do you have a volunteer base who can help out with your fundraising? Factor in the number of hours that they can contribute, too.
Is your volunteer base small at the moment? Think about how to attract more people who share your mission. And look at how you can keep your volunteers motivated to raise funds for you.
Make your goals SMART ones as much as you can. SMART is an acronym and it stands for:
For example, is securing more donors a key goal for your organization? Stating that you want to improve your donor acquisition rate by 3% by the end of the year is an example of a SMART fundraising goal.
Now that you’ve got your goals and activities planned out, set some timescales for them.
If you’re holding a big fundraising event, decide who will take the lead on certain tasks. This could be choosing the venue or taking charge of the marketing, for example.
Set mini-deadlines for when to tick off these timescales. This avoids last-minute stress and panic and makes it a lot easier to pull everything together in time.
Nominating staff or volunteers who will take the lead on specific tasks can help with this too.
Pro tip – Add all of your organization’s key timescales to a wall calendar. This helps with accountability and is an easy way to see where you’re at with deadlines.
Funding successes, challenges, and setbacks can affect your goals and dictate your plans. Review your fundraising roadmap every few months to keep track of your progress.
Don’t worry if you need to make changes to your fundraising roadmap. Most organizations will do this.
A fundraising roadmap can give your fundraising much more structure. It can also save you a lot of stress and helps your organization to stay on track with your fundraising goals.
Keep coming back to it to check your progress against your goals and it’s a great accountability tool too!
A fundraising roadmap is also a useful tool for both internal and external purposes. Within your organization, it’s invaluable for gaining context for your plans and it’s important for making sure that they’re relevant to your mission. For external use, it can help you to secure more funds.
If your analysis shows that you could be getting more out of online fundraising, we’re here to help.
At Donorbox, we make it easy to accept online donations and reach a wider pool of potential donors.
We also share more advice on how to boost your fundraising efforts on our nonprofit blog.