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How to Move from a Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy to an Action Plan

A good nonprofit fundraising plan fills in the practical details that move it from being a list of goals and contacts to being a road map for your fundraising’s direction. These three steps help you incorporate the details:

  1. Assign tasks, gather tools, and make a calendar.

    For each of the revenue areas in your plan (government, foundations, corporations, or individuals), indicate who’s going to work on raising the money, how many prospective sources you need, and which tools you need to meet your goals (such as fundraising letters, brochures, or membership cards). Then outline a general time frame for how long it will take and research specific deadlines for government, foundation, and corporate grants.

    Before taking action based on your plan, take a second look at it. Is the plan piling too much work onto one person? Are all the major deadlines falling in February? If so, consider rescheduling and reassigning work to adjust and balance these pressures.

  2. Figure out the cost of achieving each fundraising goal.

    Many people forget that it costs money to raise money. To keep track of those expenses, it’s a good idea to estimate costs and create a fundraising cash flow outline that shows when you need upfront money and when you can expect to secure income from your efforts.

    Look back at your goals and identify the list of tools you need to meet them. Maybe you need to print fundraising brochures, photocopy newspaper clippings for a grant proposal, or buy the fixings to make pancake batter.

  3. Put the fruits of your labor together in one document, and you have your funding plan!

    Your finished plan likely will be made up of the following elements:

    • Sources sought and fundraising goals (For example: foundation grants, $75,000, and special event revenues, $2,200.)

    • Prospects identified (both current and prospective contributors), along with amounts they may be expected to give

    • The number of prospects you need to achieve your goals in each category

    • List of who’s responsible for making particular contacts or contributing other services to raising the funds

    • Estimated costs of pursuing the contributions in each category

    • Timeline and cash flow projection

Many agencies create an optimum fundraising plan and a bare-bones fundraising plan — one based on their hopes and one based on what they must secure to survive. During the course of the year, they rebalance and adjust their plans.

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