As Amy Einstein covers on her website, the pieces of a fundraising strategy consists of several pieces and when you assemble those pieces in a thoughtful way, you will have a road map for raising money.
According to her article, there are several activities to do this:
- Build a foundation
- Define your goals
- Identify your course corrections
- Write it out and live the plan
Like building a house, you do not purchase a couch if you do not have a living room to put it in. As with a fundraising plan, you have to start with the beginning and create a solid foundation to build upon. Evaluate what you have done in the past and keep in consideration what external events were part of those fundraising cycles. Also make a note to do an immediate evaluation of each activity so you do not have to scramble to find that information when it is time to assemble your plan.
As you determine your overall financial goals, I encourage you to establish both actual and stretch goals. We have just experienced an unprecedented world event with the global pandemic and although the nonprofit sector has experienced both an explosion, as well as, a loss in support, using your organization’s historical performance with other possible influences will help you craft another strong method of keeping track of your course.
Of course, not every effort is the best one and now is the opportunity to determine whether or not a ‘tried and true’ event makes sense to continue, for example. There are also ample opportunities to explore new ideas. Perhaps your organization has yet to launch a major donor program and this year may be the year to do that. Or, perhaps your board has not been engaged in as many fundraising efforts as you had hoped. Now may be the time to include some board training around how to use social media to build awareness about your nonprofit.
After all the evaluation, a plan that stays in your head will not do the organization any good, so write it out. Review it with key stakeholders, like your executive director, to ensure there is buy in for the goals and support for needed resources. Be sure to refer to the plan and check in on it on a regular basis. Make adjustments as needed in the event of unexpected changes.
Keep in mind that a majority of your donors will research your nonprofit’s online presence to get a sense of stability and community impact. Not only do you need an engaging website, you also need to be active on social media. Investing in this foundational communications infrastructure is the start of your fundraising efforts.
When crafting your digital presence, keep these things in mind:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to having donors find you on the internet.
- 70% of people living in North America have a social media account.
- Understanding who uses which social channel helps you focus on your own presence.
- Email lists are a direct link to your donors and is one of the most effective ways to connect.
In closing, your development plan should be crafted as part of the budget development cycle of your nonprofit as your fundraising goals tie into your operational budget. It also informs your work plan for the year. By doing the evaluation and due diligence at the front end, you will have focus and strategy to reach your goals so your nonprofit can do the work it does in the community.