Notes from “Introduction to Fundraising Planning” workshop

Update: Added highlights from the workshop.

On May 1, I went to a workshop on fundraising planning at the Dayton Metro Libray.  The workshop was held by the Foundation Center, and was based on the book Securing Your Organization’s Future.  A recorded version of this workshop is available here and the more material on the subject of fundraising planning is available from the Foundation Center here.

Fundraising planning has several key benefits for organizations (emphasis added):

  1. Helps prioritize programs and fundraising efforts
  2. Increases board awareness and involvement in programs and fundraising
  3. Helps to ensure a diverse set of funding sources (which is important in dynamic environments like today’s economic climate)
    Note: According to the workshop, 70% of non-profit revenue comes from earned income (charges for services and goods), and only about 12% comes from private contributions (gifts from individual donors and grants)
  4. Limits “crisis funding”

The workshop described a 10 step process to developing a fundraising plan (* = not covered in detail during the workshop):

  1. Presenting a strong mission statement and vital programs
    The mission and programs presentation should focus on what good is done for whom.  It should cite specific goals and values.  It should be set up to show what the organization wants to accomplish in a positive light, and it should state what the organization wants to do, not what it needs.
  2. Conducting an assets inventory for the organization
    The assets inventory covers programs, the organization’s board and staff, organizational strengths, and funding history.  The worksop handed out a very good worksheet on this topic.  I recommend that the Board work through this worksheet at an upcoming meeting as a way to start the discussion about fundraising.
  3. Creating a dynamic case statement
    The case statement includes the organization’s mission and values, programs and services, accomplishments, plans for the future, and budget needs.  Even though this document includes the budget needs, it should not just “jump straight there.”  At the very least, a brief version of ths document should be created, and approved by the board for internal reference.  See the book Developing Your Case for Support for more details on developing an effective case statement.
  4. Setting realistic fundraising goals
    Fundraising goals help with internal planning, motivating fundraising teams, and clearly communicate priorities.  This is also an opportunity to reflect on the budget (especially costs) and ensure the financial health of the organization.  Note, fundraising goals can be broken into annual and program specific goals.
  5. Diversifying the funding mix (that is sources and types of funding)
    There is another worksheet that was handed out at the workshop.  This one may be more appropriate for use in the fundraising committee.  Note: Gifts from individuals and earned income are the most reliable sources long term.
  6. *Formulating strategies for raising money from individual donors
  7. *Formulating strategies for raising money from instituitions
  8. Putting together the fundraising plan (and coresponding calendar)
    Plan should include goals for each revenue strategy, and the details of each fundraising effort (who, when, what, where, and how).  The plan should be translated into an action calendar with roles, responsibilities and brief descriptions for each effort.
  9. Making the approach/Building relationships
    Note: The closer you are tot he person you ask, the more likely you are to get a gift.
  10. Monitoring and evaluating fundraising efforts
    During the course of the year, the fundraising efforts need to be monitored to ensure fundraising goals are being met and to evaluate if the efforts are raising enough money to be worth the time and effort being spent on them.  This evaluation work should be the groundwork for the next year’s fundraising plan.

Finally, there is even more material on a variety of topics at the Foundation Center’s website.

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