The Fundraising Plan

a goal without a plan is just a wishA fundraising plan is the overview of qualitative and quantitative current realities, goals and the outline you will use to reach those goals. What should you include in your plan?

Fundraising goals
In this section of your plan, you should include a financial target as well as a the total number of donors that would make your campaign a success. At some point you will want to determine the number of donors by dollar range, but let’s start with the aggregate.

Part of any good annual campaign is to have a broad base of support, representative of the community as a whole. No campaign can be truly successful if there are only a handful of donors. While it is true that a small number of donors will provide the bulk of the financial goal (the infamous 80/20 rule), you want to have an army of contributors so as to achieve a trues sense of community building.

The financial goal should be rooted in reality. Understand your current budget as well as projections of requirements for the coming year. Don’t increase next year’s budgeted revenue by 20% just so you have a little room to breathe unless you can show that 20% is necessary right now.   That is not to say that you cannot increase your goals. Consider how you will justify any increases. People will ask for an explanation and you will be expected to respond thoughtfully and responsibly.

Strategies and Tactics
This is where you explain how you will achieve your goals. Consider some options and examples to incorporate starting with the overall strategies, e.g., this year we will focus on new donors of $250 or more even while we seek to retain 80% of all prior donors of $250 or more. Why? When we examined our current membership, only 43% gave to the annual fund last year. While they are essential to funding our congregation, we would like to increase new first-time donors—as well as revived PYBUNTS*–to realize a 51% rate of participation. Then consider how you will retain donors and how you will seek new donors. Be specific and list out your tactics.

A true plan will assign goals, costs and administrative responsibilities to each new element. Some costs may be staff time – it is important to know whether you can realistically incorporate these ideas with your current staff.

Case for support
Do you have a clear and concise explanation of why anyone should give to support the congregation’s annual fund, particularly if they pay several thousand dollars in dues and fees already?

Print out a calendar of the next twelve months. Put in every aspect of your new fundraising plan. Is it realistic to assume the staff has the time for prospect research in the in the weeks that surround the High Holidays? Probably not, as the office will be busy with High Holiday matters – including the High Holiday appeal. Can you, instead, look at January and February to begin prospect research? If you want to have three emails after the high holidays but before the year-end (including one on the 31st) when do you need to start the series? And when do you need to write the copy?

Creating a plan is no easy task. But monitoring it on a regular basis is essential for any real success. It is a bit like dating when looking for a spouse. You are not looking for a one-time gift from someone you will never see again. You are looking for a long-term commitment that will leave you both excited about the relationship. The way you approach it as well as the way you think about it after a few months can help you decide whether this is going smoothly. You may want to go back to the calendar and build in benchmarks as well as dates to assess progress and achievements.

Don’t stay on a path that is not working and hope for a miracle. Instead plan for success. If you are having trouble creating your own plan, Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can help. Email Abigail to find out how.