Before you start planning your fundraising make sure you believe in the project.
Are you lacking funds for want of a good business plan
The important thing to clearly understand before you start is your ‘Why’. Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you have a clear purpose, vision and objectives?
Every non-profit, no matter how small or large, needs a written fundraising plan in order to achieve its purpose and reach its full potential.
How do you stand out in a marketplace that is highly competitive where funds are scarce and hard to come by. Where the market is suffering from ‘funder fatigue’. How else will you attract the attention of the people who can deliver the funds you want and need?
Before you start, there is something extremely important to consider. Do you or your organisation have the right mindset towards fundraising? Remember it can take years of experience to achieve a level of funding you are satisfied. So, if you have any doubts about your ability and capacity engage and external advisor with practical experience in fundraising.
Fundraising plans bring order to management, provide stability, layout deadlines and responsibilities, and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to fundraising goals and objectives.
Use a simple planning process
It will take the time to write a fundraising plan that will work consistently for your organisation, but needn’t be a stressful endeavour. Here are the four key steps your non-profit will need to work through in order to create a strong development plan:
Don’t leave things to luck and don’t wait for the perfect moments, create them with a good planning process.
The race to better funding always begins at the start and with the first step.
- Gather the background Information (what is going on?)
- The future direction (where do you want to go?)
- Present position (where are you now?)
- Bridging the gap (how do you get there, what funds do you need?)
- Implementation (without which you will be relying on luck)
Take out the ‘wishing and hoping’ and replace it with ‘good processes’ that will inspire new ideas, opportunities and innovation in fundraising. Having goals makes the world go round. Nothing will make people feel more on top of the world than accomplishing their goals.
A framework for fundraising can help to make breakthroughs. A good framework provides a pragmatic guide that can help make better decisions. The framework can be a way to help people navigate around what needs to be done.
Do the research and don’t leave home without it
If you are building your fundraising efforts on weak or missing information, odds are your efforts won’t deliver the results you expect.
- Gather all the background information you will need.
- Do the research on your existing donors and funders?
- How many prospects do you have, and where can you find more?
- Research your organisation’s capability and capacity to raise funds.
- Do you have proposals that actually raised funds?
- How has your organisation traditionally raised money?
- What is the state of your donor and funder files?
- How many donors do you have, and at what levels?
- What marketing and activities have worked in the past?
- What approaches have failed, and should be avoided?
- What new marketing methods can you adopt?
- Do you have a requirement for technology to assist the fundraising efforts?
Don’t waste Big Data Insights
If you rely on hindsight don’t expect to be successful at modern fundraising. The main objective of your knowledge should be to help you to understand the structure of your thoughts, the relationship between the way you think about situations and what you perceive in those situations, Learn to gain control over your negativity and focus on new possibilities. Collecting data is only a starting point; analysis is the key to success.
Explore how to enhance your fundraising strategies with big data so that you can derive actionable intelligence from your organisation’s sources. Discover how to optimise the value of your data systems, IoT sensors, smart devices, and more to support analytics.
Having standards in your approach knowledge management will help you to make use of the ‘flooded river’ of big data flowing past your business every day. It will drive information into an appropriate database and record it in a consistent, predictable, and useful way which can only provide new insights into fundraising.
Focus on client service and the customer experience
Stop with the usual pitches for funds. People don’t respond well to most pitches for money. However, they will respond to having memorable experiences. Most of the bigger donors and funders will want to check out your organisation before making a commitment.
Your best advocates will be your clients so make sure you client service is exemplary along with your client experiences. Create great experiences by focusing on real value for your clients.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others”. Sam Levenson
It always frustrates me when I see people going from business to business asking for financial support. The business hands over the usual $10 or $20 as they do for everyone in the community who asks.
Remember in fundraising, the donor, or funder, even the government, is your customer. Nobody ever stops to think “what can I do for this business in return for some serious support. Nobody ever seems to think about creating a program for the business whereby they receive a constant and tangible benefit in return for their investment in your organisation.
Most businesses know and appreciate that they need to support the non-profits in their communities. Some even have a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ program, but you probably won’t know about that unless you ask.
With some good planning, you fundraising could be multiplied beyond your wildest expectations. So, instead of thinking about what prospective donors can do for you, start thinking about what you can do for them.
Start new conversations
Involve your employees and key volunteers and suppliers and build consensus by creating some new conversations about fundraising.
Any time you try to change a conversation you’re going to get pushed back. When you try to change the topic some of those around you will try to push the conversation back to where it already was. That’s where they’re used to having the conversation and that’s where it is comfortable for them. After all, the conversations others are having benefits them not you.
It’s just a natural reaction, without even thinking about it those most invested in a conversation subconsciously push back against any change in the conversation and they do it automatically. This is why you have to become good at knowing how to change the conversation.
It really comes down to what you do. But whatever you do you must avoid the natural reaction is to get angry or to get even with a better ‘mousetrap’. To be effective you need to learn how to move a conversation forward when it’s not achieving the outcomes you are looking to achieve. If you can’t be effective walk away gracefully.
“The gentle art of changing conversations revolves more about listening than talking”. Peter Sergeant
Hold a series of meetings with your staff, volunteers and with some key donors, supporters, and advisors to your non-profit. During these meetings, you’ll want to see what these key stakeholders think about your organisation’s fundraising efforts.
Discuss with them programs and purpose-related items they’d like to see your non-profit raise more funds for and why. Try to build some consensus on the direction for your fundraising efforts for the coming year.
Writing the fundraising Business Plan
Obviously, fundraising should be an important part of your non-profits main business plan. However, to put more emphasis on fundraising it can pay to write a separate fundraising plan with a little more detail.
Save time by taking a copy of the fundraising aspects of the main business plan and work up the fundraising plan from there. What will be you big central ideas for effective fundraising? What will be your purpose, vision and objectives for fundraising and what strategies will you adopt. Remember the wrong approach leads to wrong outcomes.
Hold a series of small planning workshops with employees and key volunteers and supporters. Maybe an experienced external facilitator can be a great help to you.
Build community support
Will your plan excite members of the community to help your organisation in its fundraising efforts? Are the messages you will be delivering unique and inspiring? Have you considered doing community presentations as a way to get you message out there and attract the support you are looking for?
Create an approach that people will want to act without the usual boring approach that everyone else uses. No one ever learned anything by talking, only listening can bring enlightenment and gain people’s support.
Be careful to allow for treating each doner or funder as unique. Not everyone is the same and nor will they respond to the same things. If you treat everyone the same, you could be leaving money on the table.
If you propose to present you finished plan to major donors or funders, never just send out a mass of emails hoping for the best. Most of them will never be read by the right person. Instead, make appointments and give short presentations before giving them a copy of your plan.
It is always a good idea to tailor each plan you deliver to each donor or funder, setting out just what you would like from them and what you will do for them in return This might just be a covering letter attached to the plan.
Good governance helps to keep fundraising on track
Will the fundraising plan meet the fund raising requirements of the organisation? Can you depend on it grow the organisation in the right direction and at a speed acceptable to stakeholders? Are the fundraising ideas and formulas workable and repeatable?
Will the plan guide the management team in improving fundraising activities and are there Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place? Are tangible processes included in the plan for employees and volunteers to follow?
Will the plan create a predictable stream income to grow the organisation and satisfy your clients and funders? Does the plan include education strategies for employees and volunteers and will it provide them with hope and excitement?
Does the plan set out how you will express gratefulness after receiving funds, after all, you want people to become regular supporters of your organisation and its fundraising efforts?
Implement the Fundraising Plan
There’s an old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Yet, many organizations are working with inadequate directions, tools and have entire donor and funder information missing.
While many organisations have tools for listening and understanding their target market segments at a macro level, there is a clear opportunity to link it to a Client Relationship Management system (CRM) and make social media another hub for your donor and funder relationships to develop and mature.
The promise of one-on-one marketing is the ability to identify customers across channels and personalise content, offers, rewards and more based on their history and experience with your organisation.
What tools and processes will you use to help you implement the fundraising plan? As a minimum, you should have the following
- An action plan for each person involved.
- Clear targets for everyone involved, (PKIs).
- Client Relationship Management system (CRM), to keep track of people and tasks.
- A basic project management
- Good content to work with.
- Content marketing to support people’s efforts.
- A website and social media.
- Good accounting system to keep track of the funds raised.
- A crowdfunding platform if applicable.
How will you support the people who do the fundraising work?
A good fundraiser leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way so others can be successful. What they do is:
- Establish achievable goals and set expectations.
- Help them develop the skills they need.
- Encourage them to ask questions and be a good listener.
- To create specific roles and tasks for them.
- Give them time off, it can be exhausting work.
- Give them flexible working arrangements with flexible schedules.
- Spending time to help them to see the bigger picture.
- To give them work on experimental processes and projects.
- Always offering them unusual rewards.
- They avoid throwing them in the deep end.
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An infant watches others walk and learns that walking is possible. But successful fundraising calls you to turn possibilities into reality by first stumbling and having a go. A good plan will help you to recover from your stumbles very quickly.
I know that for everyone who hasn’t done any fundraising before that the prospect of fundraising can be distressing. This is often because you have never liked asking people for money, or you and have never gone about the task of fundraising in a professional manner.
But I wonder how you can even imagine the possibilities that could open up until you’ve tried it with a good business plan under your arm?
They will come up with many innovative ways to survive and thrive. They learn to utilise the resources they have available to them to make community breakthroughs. Think differently about new attitudes and new outcomes. Perhaps a more ‘business like’ approach is what is called for, with a more acceptable image and more aligned with community expectations.