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The Importance of a Fundraising Plan for Small and New Nonprofits

In the world of nonprofit organizations, passion and purpose are foundational elements. However, to translate these elements into tangible impact, there is an essential tool that small or new nonprofits often overlook…a well-structured fundraising plan. Regardless of the size or the age of your nonprofit, having a solid fundraising plan is crucial.

Let’s review why it’s just not an option, but instead a necessity.

Financial Sustainability: A fundraising plan serves as a roadmap to financial sustainability. Create a budget that outlines how much money your organization needs to operate. Understand the makeup of these funds.

  • One time donations

  • Recurring donations

  • Legacy donations

  • In Kind donations

  • Planned Gifts

  • Grants or Foundations

How you plan to raise the types of gifts that apply to your mission and help to ensure that your organization can continually support its mission, and the staff members even in times of financial uncertainty.

Goal Setting and Tracking: With a fundraising plan in place, nonprofits can set realistic fundraising goals and track progress towards them. This allows for timely adjustments if strategies aren't working and provides a clear direction for all fundraising efforts.

Make it simple, but make it SMART!

  • Specific: Clearly defined objectives

  • Measurable: Quantifiable goals that allow you to track your progress

  • Attainable: Goals that are challenging yet achievable

  • Relevant: Goals that are closely aligned with your broader aims

  • Time-bound: Goals that have an end date

  • Realistic: Incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goals.

Donor Engagement: A fundraising plan helps you identify, engage, and retain donors. It provides a framework for effective donor communication, stewardship, and recognition, which are critical to building long-term relationships with your supporters.

Create a communications calendar for the year, but begin with a quarterly strategy.. Map out several touch points to donors and prospective donors throughout the quarter. 5-7 touchpoints a quarter is an appropriate amount of times to engage with donors and prospects.

  • Initial phone call

  • Follow up email

  • An event invite or story

  • Success story email or update about your nonprofit

  • Introduction email to a staff member and why they are so important to your organization.

  • Direct mail

  • Social media

  • Newsletters 

Don’t recreate the wheel. Your newsletter can be a recap of all other communications.

Resource Allocation: For small and new nonprofits, resources are often limited. A fundraising plan guides you on how to allocate these scarce resources efficiently and effectively, ensuring that every dollar spent contributes to your fundraising objectives.

The most common three categories are: 

  • Program

  • Administrative

  • Fundraising Costs

A 70/30 ratio is good. meaning 30% of total funds raised are admin and fundraising activities, while 70% supports your core programs and services.

Risk Management: A fundraising plan helps you anticipate and plan for potential risks, such as a lack of funds or donor attrition. By preparing for these potential challenges, you can ensure the continuity of your organization's operations and programs.

EXAMPLE: You plan an outdoor event and it rains all day. This affects the enjoyment of the event and impacts donations.

A fundraising plan is a powerful tool that guides your fundraising efforts, promotes financial sustainability, and enhances donor relationships. Remember, it's not just about having a plan; it's about having the right plan. Your fundraising plan should be flexible, adaptable, and align with your organization's mission and goals.

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