How to Develop a Fundraising Strategy

Your board and management team has recognised that your organisation needs to fundraise.  Or perhaps you’ve already enjoyed some success with your fundraising from various sources but want to begin to take a strategic approach to your fundraising.  Where should you start?  It’s a question I’m often asked and there are a number of areas to consider – my top 5 are:

Business Plan – do you have one?  If not, there’s not much point in developing a fundraising strategy, as the whole purpose of your strategy is to look at your business objectives over the next planning period (be it 3, 4 or 5 years) and establishing how your fundraising can support these.  So, if you don’t have a business plan, get one.  If you do, what are the objectives of your organisation – and what areas have you identified in the business plan that fundraising could support?

Resources – these cover everything from staff to databases, marketing & communications to senior management and, of course, volunteers.  Look at the resources available and how they can support your fundraising.  Do you need to invest more in your fundraising resources to enable you to reach target or do you have resources that you’re not utilising effectively?

Donors – what has your fundraising looked like over the past 3 years?  A fundraising audit should happen before you put pen to paper with your fundraising strategy i.e. assessing who has given; what they’ve funded; and how much has been given.  What campaigns were successful and which failed?  Do you have particular success in raising income from trusts or perhaps companies flock to sponsor your organisation?  Or maybe no-one has ever given anything?  You need to look at all of these areas and start to question why your fundraising looks the way that it does in order to establish the potential your organisation has to fundraise successfully in the future.

Board – never underestimate the importance of your board.  If they are keen advocates for your organisation, their support with your fundraising is vital but equally, if they are negative about fundraising or refuse to support your work, you’re going to have a hard time raising any income.  Getting your Board on board and encouraging them to take a proactive approach in fundraising, is key to introducing new networks to your organisation.

Objectives – what do you need to fundraise for?  And where is the potential for raising funds for these areas?  Are some of your organisational objectives likely to appeal particularly to the Lottery or trusts – perhaps because they have a social dimension or are taking a new, innovative approach to addressing a social need?  Similarly, an objective that is likely to raise the profile of your organisation significantly and attract interest from the press and general public may appeal to the corporate market.  Look objectively at what you need to fundraise for – i.e. where your organisation is going for the next 3 – 5 years – and establish where the potential is to raise those funds.

Those are just my top 5 areas to consider when shaping a fundraising strategy and, of course, I’ve just touched briefly on each of them.  Is there anything missing?  What would you take out?

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