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

A good nonprofit fundraising plan includes the practical details that move it from being a list of goals, contacts, and costs to being a road map for your fundraising direction. The following steps help you incorporate these practical details:

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

    For each of the revenue areas in your plan, 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, web newsletters, social media campaigns, membership cards, or an online donation system). Then outline a general time frame for how long your fundraising efforts will take and research specific deadlines for grants.

    Include in your calendar a schedule for staff, board, and volunteers to check in with one another on progress made toward completing their assigned tasks.

  2. Link your cost estimates to each fundraising goal.

    You’ve already estimated costs of the time and tools you’ll need to raise funds. Now you need to create a fundraising cash flow outline that shows when you need upfront money and when you can expect to secure income from your efforts.

    Keep in mind that some foundations have a rather lengthy time from letter of intent to grant funding, sometimes up to 18 months. Individual donors may have one time of year (before the end of the year, for example) when they make charitable contributions.

  3. Put the fruits of your labor together in one document — this is your funding plan!

    Your finished plan likely consists 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 you expect them to give

    • 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 as well as 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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