To boost revenue and engage donors, you need a strong fundraising plan. Discover how to craft a fundraising plan that aligns with your nonprofit’s goals.
Use this guide to plan a comprehensive fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.

Use this guide to plan a comprehensive fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.

Between sending out appeals, stewarding major donors and processing gifts, your organization has plenty on its plate when it comes to fundraising every year. 

A nonprofit fundraising plan can help. Rather than heading into your annual fundraising and campaigns blindly and making choices that don’t align with your nonprofit’s current priorities, a well-designed fundraising strategy will outline exactly how your organization can reach its fundraising goals. 

Craft a winning fundraising plan and smoothly navigate through the months ahead with these tips:

  • Identify your nonprofit’s fundraising goals
  • Set a budget
  • Create a plan of action

Armed with your new fundraising plan, you’ll be in great shape to create stronger donor relationships and earn more revenue to power your operations. Let’s dive in. 

Identify your nonprofit’s fundraising goals

The first step to crafting your nonprofit fundraising plan is setting concrete goals. Broad objectives like “We want to raise more money” aren’t detailed enough to give your nonprofit direction for what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll achieve it. 

To develop more specific goals, closely consider questions like:

  • What amount do you hope to raise during this fiscal year?
  • What performance data from your last fiscal year indicates that this new fundraising goal is achievable? 
  • How will you raise this money? What efforts will you undertake?
  • What are the timelines for these efforts?
  • Who will manage these efforts? 

This is where the SMART goal-setting model can help. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, providing you the framework to create detailed, realistic objectives. 

Keep in mind that there are a variety of goals you can create beyond setting a reasonable, yet ambitious revenue target. For example, you might want to:

Your goals should align with your nonprofit’s strategic plan for the future. This ensures that you’re prioritizing projects that will advance your mission and help your nonprofit grow. 

Set a budget

Fundraising is time- and resource-intensive, especially if you’re planning to run an expansive effort like a capital campaign. Budget planning helps you determine the amount of resources you need to achieve your goals and can help you keep spending in check.

To establish a budget for your annual fundraising, create a chart that includes the following elements:

  • Sources of income. Map out the different donors, corporate sponsors and foundation or government support via grants you can count on to power your fundraising. 
  • Specific expenses. Think through your organization’s fundraising expenses, such as website upkeep, direct mailings, staff salaries and other fees. 
  • Income and expenses from previous fundraising efforts. This will give you an idea of whether your past budgeting was successful or not and how you can improve it to fit your nonprofit’s current state. 

Plan for the unexpected! Factor in some financial flexibility for challenges that could arise, so your budget and fundraising plan aren’t derailed by costly surprises. 

Your budget needs to be approved by your board members, so be sure to collect their input and feedback as you put your plan together. Involving your board members in the planning process encourages them to be more invested in your mission and gives your fundraising team the visibility it needs to create a strong and sensible budget. 

Create a plan of action

Now that you’ve determined the goals and budget for your work, it’s time to create a cohesive plan of action. Your plan of action needs to list the steps your organization will take to support your fundraising goals. For instance, you might execute the following activities:

  • Lead donor stewardship activities. Donor stewardship refers to the process of deepening supporter relationships over time through strategic outreach. This process is especially effective for increasing your donor retention rate and moving supporters up the donor pyramid to increased giving amounts and frequency. Popular stewardship activities include sending donors handwritten thank-you notes from leadership after they give, holding one-on-one meetings and inviting donors to topic-focused tours and luncheons. 
  • Establish corporate partnerships. According to 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate philanthropy, corporate partnerships are a great source of revenue to support your fundraising initiatives and can help improve your visibility in the community. Often, companies will provide funding or gift-matching opportunities to nonprofits to give back, boost their philanthropic reputation and increase customer loyalty. Capitalize on this opportunity by reaching out to local businesses that align with your values and suggesting ways they can support your fundraising plan. 
  • Execute social fundraising campaigns. Social fundraising campaigns, like peer-to-peer fundraisers, empower donors to take a more active role in your organization by raising money on your behalf. By sharing their personal fundraising pages with friends and family, supporters can help you amplify your reach and acquire more donors. Your nonprofit will benefit from greater visibility and stronger relationships with your peer-to-peer volunteers.

If you’re not sure which fundraising activities will best push your organization’s goals forward, consider bringing in a third-party expert to help formulate your plan of action. Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s guide to fundraising consultants recommends partnering with an experienced consulting firm that will:

  • Dive deep into your current culture and infrastructure
  • Interview key stakeholders to collect a variety of perspectives and offer recommendations
  • Suggest ways to reenergize your fundraising staff for greater productivity
  • Help you identify goals and set key performance indicators (KPIs) to track
  • Approach your existing fundraising plan with a fresh perspective

Armed with the support of your fundraising team and a well-equipped consulting firm, you can design and implement a fundraising plan that will help you raise more revenue. 

Before you head into your next fundraising campaign or make a huge expenditure that will put a dent in your budget, your nonprofit needs a well-designed plan that maps out exactly how you can achieve your goals. A fundraising plan is the ultimate source document to point your nonprofit toward fundraising success. To flesh out your plan, leverage the expertise of a fundraising consultant who can provide insights into how to raise more and grow your donor base


Author: Aly Sterling 

Long before Aly Sterling founded her eponymous consulting firm, she was solving the unique yet similar problems encountered by nonprofit organizations.

Her decision to start her own business in 2007 was driven by her belief in leadership as the single most important factor in organizational success, and her determination to work with multiple causes at one time to scale societal change.

Aly’s expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, search consultation and board leadership development for the well-positioned nonprofit. She is regularly sought for comment by trade and mainstream media, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy and U.S. News & World Report. She has contributed to publications of BoardSource and The Governance Institute, as well as the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and The Giving Institute.

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