If you’re in the midst of planning your annual fundraising strategy, there’s no better time than now to look for the best tools and resources to help you document and manage your strategy, and communicate it to stakeholders.
When the term “document your strategy” comes up, you are not alone if you automatically open MS Word and start typing away.
It’s almost as if we’ve all been programmed to use MS Office as our primary tool for documenting anything – we’re creatures of habit, for sure.
However there are many other options that can help you map out your strategy then communicate it to the appropriate people. Some tools can even help you manage the resources you need to execute the strategy.
Start With Your MSPOT Document
Brian Halligan, HubSpot’s CEO, uses MSPOT as a way to document strategy and ensure that his organization doesn’t take on more than they can reasonably handle – an admirable goal. HubSpot’s MSPOT includes:
Mission – Rarely changes
Strategy – Annually changes
Projects – The large initiatives
Omissions – Projects that they team decided not to fund
Tracking – Data that will help them determine if they are on track
This document should be shared with your leadership team and your board so that everyone understands the strategy and how it supports the mission. In addition, documenting the projects that you decided not to undertake (and why) in any given year, such as an additional large event or a technology upgrade, will facilitate transparency.
1. Google Drive
Quickly becoming the go-to tool for many organizations from schools to for-profit companies, or nonprofits, Google has taken documenting to the next level by offering a suite of free tools that can help you develop, collaborate, and communicate your fundraising strategy with ease. All you need is a Gmail account and you are ready to go.
The beauty of Google Drive is that your documents can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection and they can be shared so that there is real-time collaboration – a huge time and resource savings. All you have to do is login to your gmail account, click on the Google Drive icon and you can create, collaborate, and save documents from anywhere at any time.
Additionally, Google Drive offers:
- A free platform
- 15 GB of free Google storage
- Ability to access from any device
- Easy file sharing and varying roles
There are many different applications that are offered through Google Drive, but the three that are considered the platform’s staples are Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
This is Google’s equivalent of Microsoft Word and if you’ve grown up on Word, you’ll find that it’s both similar and different. Not quite as robust, but definitely offers more than enough top features for the average user.
If you’ve ever used Excel, Sheets is pretty much its light clone. Again, not as feature-rich as its Microsoft counterpart, but more than enough for capturing and manipulating important data relevant to your fundraising strategy.
This is one of my favorite apps and it gives a much needed break from PowerPoint. With Slides you can create presentations using free, pre-made templates or you can start with a blank page and design your own. Easily embed video, animations, share content, and make changes on the fly anywhere, any time.
Do you fear that your entire life is being documented by Google? To some extent that could be true, but when you can access a wide range of tools as good as what is available on Google Drive, and collaborate easily with others – for free, Google Drive is a must.
What good is a fundraising strategy if you don’t have a plan in place to implement and manage the strategy? With so many steps and tactics that need to be tracked, trying to do that within a standard spreadsheet is admirable, but not the most efficient way. That’s where SmartSheet can help.
SmartSheet is an online work collaboration and project management tool with flexible pricing options that vary by number of users. This platform can handle everything from the simplest task lists to full-blown, enterprise-level projects. As your organization scales, SmartSheet can scale with you and reduce stress on the organization.
With the ability to more tightly manage resources, set milestones and deadlines, collaborate more effectively, and ensure that everyone is on the same page throughout your fundraising campaigns, SmartSheet can actually pay for itself through more efficient resource utilization. SmartSheet offers:
- Unlimited collaborators
- User management
- Resource management
- File storage
- Gantt charts
- Integrates with Google Drive
Good project management will naturally yield better communication and, in turn, fewer surprises. Making an investment in a tool that can help with that process will serve any organization well in the short and long term.
To bring your fundraising strategy to life, especially when communicating it to stakeholders who may not need all the fine detail, Venngage is an infographic tool that is super easy to use and offers pricing plans for nonprofits that are 50 perfect off the standard pricing. Features include:
- Pre-designed templates
- Drag and drop elements
- Data-driven charts and maps
- Library of pictograms and icons
- Option to upload your own images
Don’t let the heavy graphic nature of an infographic fool you into thinking it’s not an appropriate tool to document your fundraising strategy – quite the contrary.
A good infographic can make it easier to document your fundraising strategy and a more compelling and interesting document for your audience. Types of fundraising strategy information that can be shared through an infographic:
- Breakdown of fundraising tactics and percent of overall goal
- Allocation of funds raised
- Donor demographics of previous year vs. expectations for current year
Weeks of work can go into developing your fundraising strategy so using great tools to document and manage it can make a huge difference in how well the strategy is received by stakeholders.
Invest the time you need to seek out the tools that are right for your organization and it will pay off in the future through more effective communication, more efficient processes and greater transparency.