One of the hardest tasks to sit down to do is planning. Many of the small charities I’ve worked with have asked me if I can skip the planning part and just move on to the fundraising. Planning days are often dreaded while plans are regarded as a ‘waste of time’.
But if that’s the case with your organisation then you’re creating fundraising plans that are more about ‘having a planning day’ than serving the needs of your fundraising.
Planning is the key aspect of your fundraising that needs to happen BEFORE you put pen to application paper. And it doesn’t need to be boring.
1. First of all, what are your organisational goals for the year/business planning cycle – ie what have you said you would do in your business plan? If you don’t have a business plan, I found a great template at The Social Business. You will have a list of organisational goals and activities that you need to carry out in order to achieve these goals – so which of these areas are likely to appeal to potential donors? (If you sign up to our mailing list – assuming you haven’t already – you’ll also receive a project development checklist to help you figure out which projects are likely to have donor appeal based on a few factors that you need to take into consideration. And if you’re already on the list but don’t have/can’t find the form, just email me and I’ll send you the link again).
2. Assign income targets to each of your projects based on what resources you have, how much of your core income you will need to allocate to each project and so on. That will give you an idea of what your overall fundraising target is.
3. Looking at each project and how much you need to raise, where do you think the money is likely to come from? This should be based on where previous income has come from; previous successes and failures; your knowledge of the marketplace that you’re in; current and past donors and the likelihood of them supporting these programmes. Consider whether some projects are more likely to appeal to statutory funders or if there is an earned income aspect to any of them that you could use instead. This is particularly useful to help cover any core costs (although funders are becoming more likely to help support core activity that 5 or 10 years ago).
4. What Resources do you Have to Fundraise? So you know what you’re fundraising for, how much you need and have a general idea of where the money might come from. Considering all of these aspects should give you an idea of how much time and resources you will need to allocate to fundraising – particularly if you consider your fundraising target against your overall income target. How much of that does fundraising represent? Think about the resources you have available for fundraising in terms of people – staff, board, volunteers, admin; systems – database, administration, finance; communications – PR & marketing, social media etc.; fundraising management – who will be responsible for overseeing your fundraising and keeping it on track; monitoring & evaluation – what checks will you put in place to make sure that your fundraising is on track, to establish what’s working and what’s not and to figure out how to make changes or capitalise on opportunities?
5. Develop a Fundraising Calendar of Activity – considering all of the key fundraising aspects – research, writing applications, approaching donors, developing social media, events, stewardship, donor communications – what are you going to do each month of the year in each of these areas to help you reach your fundraising target? So you may decide that you need to write 5 trust proposals each month, launch a Facebook campaign in April or plan a major donor event in November – and by putting it all together in an activity plan you can see when you will need to allocate significant resources to fundraising. This can also help you to see how fundraising will fit in with other activities you have on – for example, donor communications could (if appropriate) include receiving the quarterly newsletter – or you may have an event that you run that donors could be invited to. Done well, this can be an effective way to leverage your resources.
So those are a few ideas of what to consider when you are creating a plan that will actually support your fundraising. Creating the plan itself doesn’t need to be a huge onerous task either. It doesn’t need to be dull or another task to add to one (already busy) person’s in tray.
You could have a planning day with your board and key members of staff where you brainstorm ideas around income generation for your key business objectives. Or you could make an evening of it with a few bottles of wine to help the creativity flow! It doesn’t matter as long as the job gets done.
Are there any aspects of planning that you really struggle with? We’d love to help so please let us know in the comments below.