Creating a fundraising plan is hard.
With a new year comes new perspectives and resolutions on both a personal and professional level. And chances are, as you’re starting a new clean eating diet or daily jogging routine, you’re also focusing on planning fundraisers for the upcoming year.
Here at CauseVox, 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 2016 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 2017 fundraising calendar worksheet and template. Use these tools to streamline your planning process.
Remember, a bit of preparation today is bound to make your job a bit easier down the road.
Fundraising Plan & Goals Worksheet
Think of your fundraising plan as an integrated communications calendar and strategic plan. This living document includes key fundraising objectives, detailed plans to execute each fundraiser, and goals.
We’ve put together a resource that will help with your entire planning process. The downloadable spreadsheet includes a sample fundraising goals worksheet and detailed fundraising calendar, along with a blank templates for you to use for your own plan.
Download your fundraising calendar + goals template below:
To begin creating your fundraising plan, goals, and calendar, follow these steps.
1. Understand Your Need & Goals
We encourage you to begin this process by understanding your needs to pinpoint your goal.
Goals are based on the needs of your organization and these will vary from one nonprofit to the next. In theory, fundraising goals match an organization’s mission. So while a fundraising goal may be to raise $250,500 the organization’s mission is to feed 1,000 families.
Depending on how your fiscal and calendar years line up, you should know how much you need to raise in 2017 (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 2016 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 2017
- 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.
By starting big (your need) and working your way down (to your goal), you now have a great understanding of what you need to accomplish throughout the year to be successful.
2. Outline Your Strategies For The Year
Earlier, we said that fundraising calendars incorporate elements of a strategic plan. In fact, just as you’d use a strategic plan to guide your organization’s mission, you want to do the same for your fundraising goals.
At this point, note the strategies you want to focus on in 2017. For example, you probably want to increase the number of donors you have. We suggest you create strategic goals and track metrics around the following benchmarks.
- Total number of donors
- Donor retention rates
- Average gift size
- Increase donor gifts
Then, set up separate goals behind each strategy. The finished product should look something like this:
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.
Goal: Increase the average gift size by 2%
- 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
3. List Your Resources
As you know, fundraising takes more than a will. You also need a way.
And we have found that 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
4. Study Past Fundraising Trends
If you don’t know where you are, how can you understand 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 past fundraising efforts.
Again, break out a spreadsheet and create a complete list of all fundraising activities (need more ideas, we put together a list of 101+ fundraising ideas) you organized in 2016, as well as any other sources of income.
- Note the expenses for each and how much you earned.
- Identify the estimated number of hours staff and volunteers spend organizing and implementing the fundraiser
- Write down any pertinent information about each fundraiser (ie. donor reception, difficult to manage, payment issues, etc.)
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).
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 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.
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.
Download your fundraising calendar + goals template below: