A guide to developing a successful fundraising plan for nonprofits

Creating a successful fundraising plan is like using a treasure map for your nonprofit’s financial journey. It shows the way to your goals and keeps your team on track. Let’s explore the five key steps to crafting a great fundraising plan for the year ahead.

1. Analyze Historical Data

  • Funds Raised: Review the total amount of funds raised over the past three years. Look for any growth trends or patterns, identify any anomalies (e.g., a significant spike or drop in a particular year) and understand their causes.
  • Source of Funds: Break down the funds raised by source (e.g., individual donations, corporate sponsorships, grants, fundraising events). This will help identify which sources have been most lucrative and reliable and where you should focus your efforts.
  • Past Fundraising Trends: Analyze which fundraising strategies and campaigns were most successful and which did not perform as expected. Consider both the methods used (e.g., online campaigns, direct mail, events) and the messaging strategies.
Breakdown of Funds Raised by Source
Revenue SourceLast YearProjected GoalActual RaisedWhat WorkedAreas for ImprovementNext Year Action Plan
Retail donations$20,000$17,500Giving Tuesday, local giving day, Match, online givingBetter email segmentation, new donor welcome processHire copywriter, increase email frequency, enhance new donor welcome process
Individual donations$100,000$125,000More face-to-face visitsBetter CRM for moves managementPurchase new CRM system
Grants from other sources$500,000$475,000Multi-year grantsExpand scope to meet goalHire grant writer
Corporate Sponsorships$50,000$75,000Strong partnershipsMore cultivation events to corporate prospectsSchedule and plan cultivation events
Events$20,000$10,000Consider retiring event due to staff time constraintsEvaluate event necessity for staff efficiency
Analysis of Funds Raised Over the Past Three Years
YearTotal Funds Raised ($)Percentage of changeGrowth Trends/Patterns
2021$XXX,XXX%Increase in CSR and HNI donations; Decrease in retail donations
2022$XXX,XXXX%Consistent growth across all sources
2023$XXX,XXXX%Increase in Grant donations; Decrease in individual and retail donations
Analysis of Past Fundraising Trends
Fundraising Strategy/CampaignSuccess FactorsAreas for Improvement
Online CampaignsStrong engagement on social media platformsImprove email conversion rates
Personal solicitations to individualsIncreased the number of engagement activitiesIncrease the number of asks
Proposal submissionsRaised the number of submissionsRefine content and research for successful proposal writing
Direct MailHigh response rate from targeted mailing listsEnhance personalization and storytelling in mailers
EventsIncreased attendance and participationStreamline event planning process for efficiency

2. Evaluate Initiatives

  • Ongoing Projects: Assess the performance of current fundraising initiatives. Decide which current initiatives should be continued or expanded based on their performance and potential for growth. Determine whether they are meeting their goals and contributing positively to your overall strategy.
  • New programs or projects: Analyze the initiatives that you have added to your portfolio in addition to the ongoing projects. Based on your analysis of trends and performance, consider which new initiatives should be added to your list. 
  • Successes and Failures: Learn from both the successes and failures. Identify what made some initiatives successful and understand why others did not achieve their objectives.
  • Clearly define what success looks like for each initiative and how it contributes to overall fundraising goals.

3. Plan for Next Year

  • Timeline and milestones: Develop a timeline for implementing new initiatives and continuing successful ones, setting clear milestones and goals for each.
  • Establish goals: Set clear goals for each initiative to ensure alignment with the overall fundraising strategy.
  • Performance metrics: Establish clear metrics for evaluating the performance of your fundraisers and fundraising initiatives.
  • Regular reviews: Schedule regular review meetings to assess progress, adapt strategies as necessary, and ensure you are on track to meet your goals.
  • Integration of Feedback Loops: Incorporate mechanisms for gathering feedback from donors, volunteers, and stakeholders throughout the fundraising process. Use this feedback to iteratively refine strategies and initiatives, fostering continuous improvement.
  • Communication Plan: Develop a plan for regularly communicating with key stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, staff, and board members, to keep them informed and engaged with your fundraising efforts.

4. Pipeline Development

  • Prospect Identification: Identify potential new sources of funding, including untapped donor segments, new grant opportunities, or corporate sponsors.
  • Engagement Strategies: Plan how you will engage with these prospects, including initial outreach, cultivation strategies, and stewardship plans to turn them into long-term supporters.

5. Technology and Tools

  • Digital Tools: Consider investing in or upgrading digital tools and platforms that can streamline fundraising efforts, enhance donor engagement, and improve data analysis.
  • Training: Ensure your team is well-trained in using these tools effectively and in the latest fundraising strategies and techniques.

These essential strategies are fundamental for achieving fundraising success. However, it’s imperative for nonprofits to transcend short-term goals and instead focus on how their initiatives foster the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization. For more on sustainability and nonprofits, check out our blog post on this topic.

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