Wild Apricot Blog

View: Tags | Archives

How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan

Sayana Izmailova  05 May 2020  0 comments

This is a guest post by Mathew Tooker from File990

nonprofit fundraising plan


If you’re a nonprofit professional looking to improve your organization’s fundraising strategy and bring in new streams of revenue, the first step to ensuring success is to prepare a fundraising plan. This will create a solid foundation on which to build your campaigns.


Or, perhaps your previous plan is being reworked to fit the new realities of social distancing. Despite the current crisis, your fundraising efforts must go on — they’ll just look a bit different. By planning ahead in the midst of the pandemic, you can prepare your organization for a successful “re-opening” and avoid any last minute scrambling.


Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of preparing a fundraising plan for your nonprofit, we’ll quickly review the basics. 

What is a Fundraising Plan?

A nonprofit fundraising plan is a written document that demonstrates your preparation of your organization’s fundraising efforts throughout a set time period (often one fiscal year). 


This plan typically encompasses both financial goals and a nonprofit marketing plan that will be used to accomplish such goals.

fundraising ebook

Why is a Fundraising Plan Important?

By creating and implementing an effective fundraising plan, you’re creating a reminder that helps you work towards your goals. Plus, it helps you choose which aspects you need to work on and to keep you and your team accountable with benchmarks throughout the process.


Here are the five steps you’ll want to follow to bring your team to success: 


  1. Reflect on your past finances.

  2. Define your vision.

  3. Consider new trends.

  4. Set goals.

  5. Expand your donor network.


Are you ready to get started crafting a straightforward, organized fundraising plan? Let’s jump in.


How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan_header1

1. Reflect on Your Past Finances.

Before moving forward to create a new fundraising plan, it’s essential that you take a look at your past finances. This way, you can extract key insights from this data such as where you’ve come from as a nonprofit and where you see your organization going. 


It should be quick and easy to pull this fundraising information as long as you have kept detailed and accurate financial records throughout the year. For example, consider checking your Form 990, the annual IRS tax form required of nonprofit organizations from previous years.  


Pay attention to where your fundraising revenue has come from in the past so that you can add them to your plan for the future — such as:


  • Individual small- and mid-level donors: The majority of donors fall into this category, with gifts ranging from a few dollars to several thousand. If your organization has a wide array of small- and mid-level donors, you may choose to place an emphasis on boosting repeat or recurring donations.

  • Major donors: The definition of a major gift varies greatly from one nonprofit to another. For a smaller nonprofit, a few thousand dollars can constitute a major gift, while larger organizations consider major gifts to run in the six-figures range. Regardless of the definition, an average of 88% of individual donor dollars come from the top 12% of donors.

  • Nonprofit grants: If your organization has relied on grant funding in the past, you know that this can be a great source of revenue to kickstart a new project or initiative. It might be a good idea to explore opportunities presented by both private grant-giving institutions and government agencies, as new grant funding has been made available in response to COVID-19.

  • Corporate giving: The final source of fundraising revenue for many nonprofit organizations comes from businesses and corporations. Much of this revenue comes from matching gift programs, where businesses financially match the generous gifts of their employees to eligible nonprofit organizations. 

As you complete these financial reflections, you’ll be able to better cater your fundraising strategy to your personal history, donor network, and current trends. You’ll also have the opportunity to note any room for improvement you see, such as expenses to be cut or fundraising strategies to emphasize.


How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan_header2

2. Define your Vision.

To boost your fundraising strategy, it’s essential that you first have a solid understanding of who you are as an organization. It would be nearly impossible to connect with donors and receive adequate funding without fully defining and communicating your nonprofit’s vision. 


As you work to create and refine your organization’s overall vision, there are a few key elements to keep in mind. 


  • What is your mission? What is the main issue you see in the world, and how do you visualize yourself mending it? You can use specific stories and goals to explain it and help others visualize themselves as a part of the mission as well.

  • Why is it important? Why does this issue matter? This can be on a global scale or a more personal level within your community. Plainly express why each potential supporter should want to get involved.

  • What sets you apart? There are millions of nonprofit organizations worldwide. How can you convince supporters to give their hard-earned dollars to your organization and not another? The key is to brand your nonprofit to position yourself as the best choice.


When you work to define your vision by answering these questions and more, your Form 990 can come in handy here as well. Not just a financial record, your 990 also requires a basic understanding of your mission and goals. Feel free to use your previous answers as a jumping point as you continue to develop your mission.


3. Consider New Trends.

An important aspect of fundraising (and running a nonprofit in general!) is making sure you’re up-to-date with any emerging fundraising trends in the nonprofit world. Staying up-to-date will help you better connect with your target audience and encourage new donations.

A few recent trends you might want to keep in mind as you work on your fundraising plan include:


  • Donor-advised funds: One trend that has seen growth in recent years, likely due to associated tax benefits, is the use of donor-advised funds. Through these types of funds, donors set aside charitable contributions without allocating the funds to a particular organization. This way the funds continue to grow, tax-free, during this waiting period. Engaging with donors with these accounts is a good way to build important relationships.

  • Corporate philanthropy: Matching gift programs, one aspect of corporate philanthropy, continue to grow in popularity as awareness surrounding them increases as well. Corporate matching gifts programs double an incoming donation when participating employers agree to match charitable donations from employees. This way, you get twice the donation while the donor is making twice the impact. A win-win!

  • Targeting Gen Z: Generation Z, known for being more involved with activism than any generation prior, continues to become more engaged with philanthropy and improving society as a whole. Also known as the “Philanthro-teens,” this generation makes up over a quarter of the global population and are beginning to enter the workforce — and yet many nonprofits leave this group out of the potential donor pool! Specifically targeting Gen-Z with a tailored outreach approach is an important way to grow your nonprofit.

By taking note of these trends and staying on the lookout for any others when you create your fundraising plan, you will have a better understanding of the unique ways you can engage with your donors and foster positive relationships with each of your supporters.

If you can incorporate new trends into your strategy, you can hopefully reach out to a new audience and expand your fundraising. 


How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan_header4

4. Set Goals.

Setting fundraising goals throughout the year can help make sure you stay on track. Goals can help remind you and your team of your greatest focus, encourage efficient prioritization, and keep up with your overall game plan. 


One of the most common methods you can set an effective fundraising goal is by using the SMART framework. 


  • Specific: Make sure your goal states exactly what you are looking to accomplish by identifying a tangible outcome. Be sure to use concrete metrics or percentages in order to ensure specificity of your goal. 

  • Measurable: Stating quantitative metrics takes the guessing out of measuring your progress. Try incorporating a fundraising thermometer to visually measure the progress your nonprofit is making over time and keep your team and donors motivated. 

  • Attainable: Set a goal that is realistic in relation to the size and scope of your organization. Creating a challenge can be great for motivation, but setting sky-high goals will only set your team up for disappointment.

  • Relatable: Choose a goal that is relevant to your organization and your mission — with an emphasis on fundraising. A relatable goal is important for engaging with your team and anyone else that gets involved in your fundraising efforts. One donor-facing way to do this is by showing how much their donations will give back to the community — for example, saying that a gift of $50 is equivalent to three meals at your food bank. 

  • Time-based: Establishing a deadline allows you to measure your progress toward a target date. A deadline makes it possible to track development through the stages of your fundraising plan.


For example: To increase the number of monthly recurring donors from 100 to 150 by the end of the second fiscal quarter. 


The specificity in this standard for setting goals ensures simple tracking and reporting of any status updates, which helps keep your team on track to follow your overall fundraising plan. 


Tracking these goals also gives you the perfect opportunity to celebrate your successes and build on any opportunities for improvement.


How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan_header5

5. Expand your Donor Network.

While appreciating your current donors and nurturing those relationships is an important aspect of fundraising, it’s a good idea to work on expanding your network of supporters as well. 


You can choose to focus on individuals who have expressed a prior interest in your organization but have yet to make their first donation, or you might want to start fresh and introduce yourself to brand new prospects.


Either way, a few best practices for gathering new donors include:


  • Strategizing your social outreach: A great way to engage new donors is through mass communication tactics, including email marketing and social media promotion. Social media offers excellent networking perks in that you can ask your current donors to interact with and share your messages with their family and friends, which exposes new audiences to your mission. On the other hand, you can choose to take a more personal approach with email or direct messaging.

  • Sharing your vision: Once you have defined your established vision, use that as a way to attract new donors who share your drive toward that mission. To find donors who align with your vision, share it through your network with various marketing tactics. 

  • Emphasizing donor involvement: Donors like to know where their money is going. Specific details can draw in new supporters looking to help your cause. For example, asking for donations to buy one child’s textbooks is usually more effective than asking donors to pitch in to build a school. This puts the focus on that particular donor and how they can make an immediate difference.

As you reach out to potential new donors and connect with those holding a shared interest in your mission, you’ll have to walk a fine line between building repeat donor relationships and seeking out new supporters.


Once you’ve established a solid understanding of each of your finances, trends, goals, and vision, you are ready to compile your collected information into a singular document — your fundraising plan. Consider using a template to streamline this process, such as this fundraising plan template from Aly Sterling Philanthropy.


And as you put it all together, be sure to outline the specific tactics you plan on using to raise money — including events, online and mobile giving, peer-to-peer fundraising, and more. 


However, it’s always a good idea to remain flexible as you move along. If this year so far has taught us anything, it’s that no plan is set in stone!


Yet by crafting an effective fundraising plan and sticking closely to it throughout the year, you can set your organization up for a successful year of fundraising. Best of luck!



mathew tookerMathew's expertise is in sales forecasting, goal setting, client growth initiatives and business development and analytics. When he is not laser focused on moving organizations forward, you can find him spending time with his wife, Lauren, and two dogs, Reagan and Teddy, running marathons and watching the Atlanta Braves and Auburn sports.


Sayana Izmailova

Posted by Sayana Izmailova

Published Tuesday, 05 May 2020 at 11:42 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

Search: WildApricot.com 

About results ( seconds) Sort by: 
Sorry, an error occured when performing search.