If your not-for-profit focuses all of its fundraising energy on the holiday season and end of the year, it’s not misguided. After all, 26% of charitable giving to nonprofits occurs in December, according to the 2023 M+R Benchmarks Study. But that means almost three-quarters of annual donations need to be obtained during the rest of the year. The best way to make fundraising an ongoing process with strategies you can use any time of the year is to maintain a year round fundraising commitment.
It Takes a Team
The first step to a solid fundraising plan is to form a fundraising committee. This should consist of board members, your executive director, and other key staffers. You may also want to include major donors and active community members.
Committee members need to start by reviewing past fundraising sources and approaches and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each. Even if your overall fundraising efforts have been less than successful, some sources and approaches may still be worth keeping. Next, brainstorm new donation sources and methods and select those with the greatest fundraising potential.
As part of your plan, outline the roles you expect board members to play and their fundraising commitment. For example, in addition to making their own donations, they can be crucial links to corporate and individual supporters.
A Flexible Plan
Once the committee has developed a plan for where to seek funds and how to ask for them, it’s time to create a fundraising budget that includes operating expenses, staff costs and volunteer projections. After the plan and budget have board approval, develop an action plan for achieving each objective and assign tasks to specific individuals.
Most important, once you’ve set your plan in motion, don’t let it sit on the shelf. Regularly evaluate the plan and be ready to adapt it to organizational changes and unexpected situations. Although you’ll want to give new fundraising initiatives time to succeed, don’t be afraid to cut your losses if it’s obvious an approach isn’t working.
Get Going Now
Perhaps you’re gearing up for your year-end campaign (most nonprofits start planning in September or October). That doesn’t mean you should wait until the new year to build a more comprehensive fundraising plan. Your organization’s cash flow depends on steady income, so the sooner you put a plan in place, the better. Contact us for more information.
Want to learn more about Olsen Thielen’s services to nonprofits? One way to do that is to check out our Q &A Over Coffee podcasts. Pay particular attention to Episode #8, which discusses Understanding Your 990. We have many great topics—check it out–it definitely will be time well spent!