“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Fundraising is crucial for your organization, but your fundraising goals will likely fail without a good plan. Strategic fundraising plans give your nonprofit a map to success.
Building a team, remembering your mission, and finding what works best for your organization and donors will help create that map.
In this blog, we discuss why a strategic plan is vital to your organization. We will also walk you through a step-by-step guide to creating a strategic fundraising plan of your own.
What is Strategic Fundraising?
Fundraising can feel overwhelming when reacting to the latest trends or budget shortfalls. A strategic fundraising plan that focuses on your mission and includes your board, staff members, and fundraising objectives will get you farther in the long run.
A strategic plan is a map to follow as you raise funds. Each step of your map should include what path to take as you reach or miss a campaign’s fundraising goal. It is ideal to have one major strategic plan for the year. You can also create a plan for each of your campaigns to keep you on track.
Fundraising plans keep your board, staff, and volunteers on the same page when planning events and campaigns. Including all players at this stage will help cement the plan and make it easier to carry out.
As you work with your team to create a strategic plan, you will gain new insights and creative ways to raise funds. As you research how past events have gone and the expected return on investment of new fundraising ideas, you will have a developed plan that can benefit your organization in many ways.
A strategic plan will not only help your organization raise more funds. It will also free up your staff and board’s time and talent, double down on your mission and build deeper connections with your donors if done right.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Strategic Plan
There are too many times when fundraising feels like throwing ideas at a wall to see what sticks. With a strategic plan, your nonprofit can decide whether those ideas fit with your mission and donor base before tossing them at the wall.
The following steps should be a starting point in creating a strategic fundraising plan. As you see your plans’ results, you can adapt and change what does not work for your organization.
1. Include your mission
The variety of campaign types and marketing tools can be distracting when fundraising. Your organization’s mission may get lost in the mess of events, online campaigns, major donors, and fundraising emails.
Your mission is the most critical fundraising tool you have. Without it, your supporters may lose sight of why they are donating and will quickly find a nonprofit with clearer objectives.
When fundraising, remember to keep your mission at the top of your donors’ minds. Here are a few easy ways to do this:
- When sending out solicitation letters and emails, always remember to include your mission statement at the top.
- At your fundraising events, you can give exact numbers or tell a story about how your donors’ gifts are getting you closer to reaching your mission.
- Each monthly newsletter is a chance to keep your supporters updated on where their donations are going and how they have impacted the organization’s mission.
2. Create objectives
Your mission is your nonprofit’s ultimate goal. Your objectives are the steps your organization takes to get there.
Laying out your organization’s objectives will give your donors another clear example of how their gifts can make a difference. Promoting these objectives, and breaking down how they can be successfully funded, will give your donors a pathway to follow.
If your mission is to educate all children in Columbia, your objectives may be to build schools, provide books and supplies, and fund the education of children and teachers in villages across the country.
When creating a fundraising plan, include these objectives and develop campaigns to fund them. When these objectives are met, you can celebrate with your donors and update them on how these objectives are making an impact.
The success of these objectives will encourage your supporters to help you meet more of your goals.
3. Build a team
No one can carry out a plan by themselves. Involving your board and staff in the creation of your strategic plan is essential to its success.
Your strategic plan will include several fundraising avenues, and your team will have a variety of expertise you can use. Whether you use your team on different campaigns or to reach different objectives, you will want to create a team that can best benefit your organization.
Solicit Major Donors
Find volunteers, board members, or staff members with personal connections to some of your major donors. Work with them to build a stronger connection with the donors and create a separate fundraising plan to meet that donor’s particular interest in your organization.
Do you have a volunteer who loves to design? How about a board member who bakes delicious cakes? Fundraising events are when you can use these skills to benefit your nonprofit. Encourage your volunteers and board members to join an event committee and share their expertise.
Corporate Sponsorship/Partnership Solicitation
You never know where a corporate relationship can lead. A local company may start with an interest in using you for their company volunteer day, but that does not mean you cannot turn that interest into a sponsorship. Your board members can be the perfect way to turn a one-day event with a company into a long-term partnership.
Social Media Campaigns
Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer campaigning has grown in popularity in 2020. The success of these campaigns relies on your relationship with volunteers who have large communities of their own. Encouraging volunteers to become leaders in these efforts can raise funds and develop strong fundraisers for your organization.
Keeping your crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaign leaders informed about how the funds are being used and where they are making a difference will help them reach more people and find success with their campaigns.
4. Find funding options for different donor types
While it is easy to rely on campaigns and events that have been successful in the past, 2020 has proven that sometimes it is necessary to think outside the box. When creating a strategic fundraising plan, you should include different fundraising types to reach a broader range of donors.
Everyone wants that one donor who can give your organization a million dollars, or even a few thousand, but that does not mean you should ignore the rest. Smaller, mid-size, and major donors all have different interests and needs. By reaching out to them in different ways, you can be sure to get the most out of your fundraising campaigns.
Your smaller donors are often ignored outside of the annual end-of-year campaign or event. This year, you can try to reach out to this group of individuals in more than one way. Why not have an online raffle or sell scratch cards for a few dollars a person. While it may not bring in thousands of dollars, your return on investment for smaller events like these may turn out to be worth the trouble.
Mid-level donors are the ones who you can count on for a few hundred to one thousand dollars a year. These donors can be some of your best supporters in the long run. The best way to encourage these donors to give more is to find easier ways for them to donate.
Some of these donors may work for companies that match their donations but do not even know it. Sending out a simple message to your donors about asking their companies for matching donations can put this idea in their minds. Donorbox has also included a section on our online donation pages for company matching donations.
Some of your mid-level donors may also be ripe for a recurring donor campaign.
Recurring donors are willing to give a pre-determined amount of money every year to your nonprofit. This amount is taken out weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually and is money you can count on and include in your budget. Developing a campaign to promote your ability to accept recurring donations safely is one way to excite donors about this type of gift.
Visit our blog to learn How to Turn One-Time Donors Into Recurring Donors.
We have already discussed using donors and board members to help build relationships with major donors. This is a necessary first step, but you will want to create distinct ways your major donors can make their mark to continue that relationship.
Some major donors love to take part in Capital Campaigns or fund specific projects. Other donors may be willing to match donations from other supporters. Their involvement in a matching campaign can bring in more gifts and make an even greater difference to the organization. The idea is to be creative and work with these donors to find what most interests them.
5. Use New Marketing Techniques
The development of technology has opened a plethora of marketing options. In addition to mailing and email campaigns, you can now send out fundraising material through social media apps using daily posts, ads, and your biggest supporters’ online communities.
Smaller organizations may limit their use of social media over fears that they cannot compete with the bigger names. Social media is just another way to speak with your donors. Regardless of your nonprofit’s size, you can use this conversation tool to benefit your organization in many ways.
We have written an article on How to Plan and Execute a Stellar Nonprofit Social Media Campaign. If you have avoided social media in the past because you are unsure how to make it work for you, this article is a great resource.
Crowdfunding and Peer-to-peer campaigning is another example of how social media has changed the rules for nonprofits. Your donors and volunteers have strong communities of their own. With your help, they can spread the word about a campaign to their community and raise funds to help you reach your goal. Learn more about crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising on our blog.
6. Research Past Campaigns
While there are several new options for fundraising campaign types and marketing techniques, it is your job to decide what works best for your nonprofit. When developing a strategic fundraising plan, the research stage is an essential step. How have your donors responded to past attempts at mail, email, and social media campaigns? What fundraisers in your past have given you the best return on investment?
If most of your donors are older, a social media campaign may confuse and frustrate them. Or worse, not get to them at all. If you have a developing group of younger professionals in your donor base, you may want to find easy and quick ways to reach out to this group of individuals.
By finding this information, you are not starting from scratch. You can base your fundraising plan and budget on past amounts raised and on likely revenue increases if you change the way you reach out to donors.
A detailed database with this information is crucial in deciding which campaign types and marketing tools will work for your organization. Donorbox database and donor profiles include several ways to enter donor information that will help you in your next strategic fundraising plan.
7. Start Fundraising
After your team creates a detailed plan based on your mission, donors, and past successes, now is your chance to turn that plan into action.
Your strategic plan should have a variety of different ways to raise funds this year, but almost all of them will require you to write a fundraising or appeal letter. Writing a powerful letter to your donor list can raise large amounts for only a little money and work. A fundraising letter generally brings a 5-15% return on your investment.
With those kinds of returns, why not get to writing? Your fundraising letter should tell a compelling story, speak directly to your donor’s interests, and create a sense of urgency. That sense of urgency could be the one thing that encourages your donors to act, so visit our blog to learn more about How to Create a Sense of Urgency in Fundraising Appeals.
After sending out your appeal letters and holding events that focus on your mission and donors, you should be tracking the results. Are your efforts raising more money and taking less time than before? Are you building stronger relationships with your donors and volunteers? At the end of the year, your strategic plan’s success should be evident in the funds you raised and the connections you made.