How can you make your development plan relevant to organizational needs?

Before we can create a development plan for your nonprofit, we must take a deep dive into your nonprofit organization. What does your organization really need or hope to achieve through donor support? Reliance on donor support runs the gamut in nonprofits from being the sole source of organizational revenue to being a low percentage of overall income. One of the first things I do when an organization reaches out to me for fundraising assistance is ask for information on the organization’s annual budget followed by the percentage of the budget that comes in from philanthropy. This includes all direct giving from individuals, foundations, organizations, and corporations.  It is the net revenue from annual fund efforts such as events and appeals. It does not include government grants however I do want to know if there is government support and how much.

Next, beyond your calendar of events and activities, what are your fundraising objectives?  Take a close look at your organization’s budget. How is it funded? Which areas can your department’s efforts directly support by providing giving opportunities tied to strategic initiatives, programming or capital needs? How can you best package these up and develop a list of prospects who may have an interest in supporting them? Are there aspirational plans in the works with budget projections in the future? Can you and your team strategize how to build interest and enthusiasm for support over time?

Fund development planning that is paid attention to by the board of directors and nonprofit executives is tied directly to organizational needs. It must ebb and flow and be nimble enough to move with the direction the organization is taking. The ongoing activities to acquire new donors and renew supporters at lower levels continue but should not supersede the focus on direct giving. These activities can be used to weave in the organization’s messaging about where it’s headed and how helping at any level will get your nonprofit where it needs to go.

Try a simple exercise. Review your organization’s budget. Look at the revenue that can or should come from philanthropy. Compare this to your department’s plan for activity and resource allocation. Where are you spending your time? Are your plans in-sync? As you strive for your last push for support before the end of the year, take some time to see how you can tweak next year’s plan for greater impact. You’ll be surprised how effective this intentional effort can be.