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“If you don’t know where you are going; you will end up someplace else.”
2020 was a year unlike any other. And as far as fundraising planning goes, your fundraising plans were thrown off.
Now, as we get started fundraising in 2021, it’s never been more important to have a fundraising plan that designed to help you make up for lost funds and meet your goals in today’s context.
And so, here’s what we recommend as you focus on planning your fundraising initiatives in 2021.
Creating a Fundraising Plan
Creating a fundraising plan may seem daunting. Even the word “planning document” might make you stressed.
But as any fundraiser worth their salt will tell you – planning is something you need to do, without question.
Starting to fundraise without a plan is like building a house without a draft – you need a plan to know where you’re going, and to keep you on that track.
The best fundraising plans are not ones that sit within the top drawer of your desk. They’re organized, actionable and tell a complete story of how you’re going to achieve your goals.
Prioritize Using a Fundraising Plan
Most of all your fundraising plan helps you prioritize. Between all the events, phone calls and mailings your plan can bring you and your team back to the most important activities. And even though it may be more work in the short term, it will save you time in the long run by focusing your attention on the things that matter most.
So as this year comes to an end and a new one approaches, now is the perfect time to start creating your 2021 fundraising plan.
You should be armed with the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work this year, and be forward-thinking in your approach to create an attainable, yet ambitious plan.
Fundraising Calendar for 2021
Here at CauseVox, we know how important the process of creating a fundraising plan is. That’s why we created this 2021 fundraising calendar worksheet and template to help you map out the best possible plan.
These templates come with a number of tips that we’ve pulled together to help you through the process of planning. You should be able to pick up these templates and start working with them right away.
We view the new year as a period of both reflection and preparation for what’s to come. It’s a time to focus on evaluating what fundraising approaches from 2020 worked and be honest about what didn’t pan out as planned. With this knowledge, you can begin creating a plan for the future.
But planning for the new year isn’t just about brainstorming. You must apply strategic planning, knowledge of your donor base, and a forward-thinking approach to fundraising in your preparation efforts to create an attainable, yet ambitious plan.
We know you have a lot on your plate. You just wrapped up year-end appeals. There are thank you notes to write, data to input, and results to report.
That’s why we created this 2021 fundraising calendar worksheet and template. Use these tools to streamline your planning process.
Download your fundraising calendar + goals template below:
Fundraising Plan & Goals Worksheet
Think of your fundraising plan as both a communications calendar and a strategic plan. Remember this should be a living document – something that you refer to constantly and one that includes key fundraising objectives, detailed plans to execute, and goals.
The first place to get started would be this fundraising plan and goals worksheet.
The downloadable spreadsheet includes a sample, along with a blank template for you to use for your own plan.
To help get you started with this template, and your fundraising plan, we’ve put together some tips and strategies below. By following these with your team, you will be well on your way to creating your fundraising plan!
While you might be in a planning phase for your annual fundraising goals and plans, don’t forget that you could also create one of these for every campaign you run – it’s a great tool for many uses.
Want step-by-step guidance for building out your Fundraising Planning Guide and Calendar Worksheet?
1. Understand Your Need & Goals
We encourage you to begin this process by understanding your needs to pinpoint your goal.
Your Organizational Goal
This is your macro goal and in theory, should match your organization’s mission. For example, you need to raise $250,500 to achieve the organization’s mission of feeding 1,000 families.
Keep it concise, it doesn’t need to be long. However, this goal should be the one that all the other smaller goals feed into. If you start working on something in the year that doesn’t feed into this goal, then you need to question whether it’s worth doing.
To calculate your organizational goal you should know how much you need to raise in 2021 (or your whatever your fiscal year looks like). If you need guidance, work with whoever’s in charge of finances to get a copy of the budget.
Then, complete the following steps:
- Write down how much you expect to spend on ALL expenses (administrative, programming, fundraising)
- Write down how much are you expecting to bring in from guaranteed, committed sources (Campaign pledges, government grants, private grants, foundations) in 2021
- Calculate the total you need to raise by subtracting your guaranteed income (#2) from your total expenses (#1). This is how much you need to raise in other types of fundraising activity during the next calendar year.
For example, if your total operating budget is $250,500 and you have $25,000 in government grants, $20,000 in foundation grants, and another $50,000 in pledges already committed, you must raise an additional $155,500 through other fundraisers.
Your fundraising goals, or “micro-goals,” should be SMART goals – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound. You should definitely aim high with these, but make sure they’re realistic within the timeframe you have.
These smaller, strategic goals will feed directly into your organizational goal. For example, if you want to raise an additional $155,500 next year, you will probably need to increase the number of donors you have. Or you will need to increase the average gift from your existing donors. It is likely that you will need to do both.
Put these goals in order of priority – which ones which have the most impact, and which ones should you prioritize? I’m sure you’ll want to do them all, but remember this plan is about focusing your efforts on what will matter [to your bottom line] most.
By starting big (your organizational goal) and working your way down (to your micro goals), you now have a great understanding of what you need to accomplish throughout the year to be successful.
2. Study Past Fundraising Trends
If you don’t know where you have been, how will you know where you need to go? You may have heard this saying a time or two, and it really rings true when it comes to fundraising.
At CauseVox, we believe that the best way to grow your resources is to understand what has worked (and hasn’t worked) in the past. So, after you’ve mapped out your goals, the next step we recommend taking involves “looking backwards” to critically evaluate the fundraising activities of your previous year.
To do this break out a spreadsheet and create a complete list of all fundraising activities you organized in the previous year, as well as any other sources of income. (If you need more ideas, we put together a list of 150+ fundraising ideas)
For each of these activities you want to take a look at a few factors:
- The expenses of running the activity (including staff and volunteer time)
- The benefits generated for your organization (such as revenue, brand, donors)
- And any other pertinent information
You want to evaluate this information to help you determine what the return on investment is for running these activities. You want to know whether a specific activity is worth repeating again, or if you need to come up with new activities to replace them.
Every fundraiser wants to minimize expenses while maximizing returns, so calculating return on investment is pertinent to making sure the money you spend is working for your organization. See this article for more tips on calculating your ROI.
Remember to cover ALL sources of income on this spreadsheet. This exhaustive list should include:
- All individual donations (including major gifts) procured by
- Direct mail
- Online fundraising
- Special/in-person fundraisers
- Phone solicitations
- Membership fees
- Corporate sponsorships
- Company matches
- Sale of items/services
Now, take a good look at this spreadsheet. Highlight the fundraisers you expect to bring in similar results. Mark those that you want to do again, and cross out anything that wasn’t worth your time or had a low return on investment (ROI).
3. List Your Resources
As you know, fundraising takes more than a will. You also need a way.
Now you know what your goals are and what activities you’re thinking of doing, so the next step should be mapping out what resources you have to determine what strategies will actually be feasible for you to do next year.
We have found that the process of listing your resources in a clear, organized manner can help you wrap your brain around how you can go about raising the funds needed.
For starters, answer these questions:
- How many staff people can devote their time to fundraising?
- How much time can they devote each week?
- Do you have a volunteer base to help with fundraising tasks?
- If so, how many hours per week total for all volunteers?
- Are your board members required to fundraise on behalf of your organization?
- If so, how many hours per week can you expect them to engage?
- What is your annual fundraising budget, including marketing costs?
Then, organize your findings using this checklist on a spreadsheet or table similar to the one provided below:
- List each staff person and the amount of time they can devote per week
- Write down the average number of volunteers and their anticipated weekly commitment
- Outline your annual fundraising budget, including staff time, fundraising, and other expenses
Remember to think out of the box with your resources – where could you save time that will free you up to focus on other activities. With CauseVox you can quickly and easily set up donation pages and entire peer to peer fundraising campaigns that take a fraction of the time and effort.
Sign up for free today and see how you can raise more with less (and increase your ROI).
4. Outline Your Strategies For The Year
Your strategies relate back to how you are going to achieve your fundraising goals – these are the activities you will undertake to help you achieve each goal.
Outlining your strategies may take some time, and it’s something that is worth doing with your staff and/or team members for ideas. We also recommend doing a review of what strategies did and did not work for you last year so that you pick and focus on the ones that drove results.
These strategies should also have specific metrics and/or KPIs associated with them to measure their success. For example, how many new donors do you expect to acquire? And by what time frame? Remember the SMART goals.
Here are some suggested strategies that we traditionally see in fundraising plans, and ideally what the end product should look like in your plan?
Goal: Increase the total number of donors by 5%
- Strategy: Organize one major fundraiser per quarter and one small fundraiser per month.
- Strategy: Plan a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to acquire new donors online
- Strategy: Use Facebook and Instagram ads to direct a targeted online audience to our fundraising website.
- Strategy: Replace your in-person gala with a virtual gala + acquire 100 new donors.
See our article, 23 Top Virtual Fundraising Ideas for more inspiration for your 2021 virtual event planning.
Goal: Increase the average gift size by 3%
- Strategy: Create giving levels and incorporate into all online fundraisers
- Strategy: Ask returning donors to increase gifts
- Strategy: Target one-time donors for a recurring giving campaign
There are some easy ways to increase giving that could be as simple as changing a button! The Irish International Immigration Centre nearly doubled their online giving by replacing their paypal button with the CauseVox donation page – they’re average gift jumped up by more than $100 in comparison to previous giving.
Get started for free with CauseVox donation pages and see how easily you too can raise more with less effort.
5. Create A Path Forward
It’s finally time to start putting it all together. You now have a deep, thorough understanding of your goals, strategies, the resources you have to meet those goals, and some techniques that worked in the past.
So, let’s touch some more on these fundraising techniques. After all, fundraising professionals don’t simply rely on direct mail anymore. Today, your fundraising options sometimes seem, well, endless. And, that’s a GOOD thing!
For starters, make a list of all the fundraisers or campaigns you want to run and when you want them to occur. Be mindful of remaining “strategic” (have we used this word enough?), meaning you should use donor trends and knowledge of your donor base to outline your annual plan.
As an example, if you know donors aren’t as likely to attend an event in the summer months, focus on an online campaign at this time.
Specify details for each fundraiser to want to run, including:
- Fundraiser type and name
- Anticipated income
- Staff and volunteer time
- Marketing costs
- Other expenses
- Intended audience
- Any other notes
Your detailed list will look something like this for every fundraising event/effort:
During this step, be sure to plan enough activities to cover your budgetary needs and be mindful of overstretching your current resources.
And now, you’re ready to put this useful information all into a neat, clean, and organized fundraising calendar!
Remember – this fundraising plan should be a living document. You should also use it as a “north star” guide to help you throughout the year, to constantly align your team and your priorities to strategies that will achieve your goals.
While it’s important to set these goals and strategies, you can also be flexible with this plan if you need to.
For example, if a great opportunity comes up, can you replace it with one of the other strategies? It’s important to review this plan every quarter to make sure you’re on track and to see if any of your fundraising goals or strategies have changed.
Download your fundraising calendar + goals template below:
Sample Fundraising Calendar
While many nonprofits and charities use an everyday calendar to organize annual fundraisers, we believe that a detailed spreadsheet can work wonders in keeping you organized before, during, and after each fundraising activity.
With all of the work you have just done, use your plan to setup a calendar of activities so that your entire team is across what is happening and when.
Use both documents together to create an organized, strategic and actionable plan for the year ahead.
Raise More With Less Effort Year-Round On CauseVox
Typical fundraising software is clunky, complex, and contract-bound, but CauseVox tidies up your digital fundraising to help you raise more with less effort. Run donation pages, crowdfunding, and peer to peer fundraising in less time, without hassle.