One of the most overlooked aspects of a fundraiser is a fundraising plan. Some small-scale fundraising organisers operate without a system, and although they manage to pull it off, it is not the best course of action. As an organiser, a clearly articulated fundraising plan comes in handy when allocating resources and time to the different tasks. Creating an elaborate plan would also help you avoid the common pitfalls facing most organisers such as missed deadlines and last-minute crisis.
Coming up with an effective fundraising plan does not only help you carry out a useful fund drive, it also makes the animal rescue seem professional. You wouldn’t want to end up looking unorganised to your donors with a rushed and poorly executed fundraiser, would you? With a plan in place, you can perform all the tasks leading up to the fundraiser effectively and promptly.
So, what should your plan include? Here are the critical aspects of an ideal fundraising plan:
When fundraising, it’s imperative to know the ending before you look at the beginning. It’s essential to consider your fundraiser’s endpoint before you begin planning for it. What will define your fundraiser’s success? What is your target amount for the fundraiser? Having a concrete goal is essential in tracking your fundraiser’s success and determining what you need to push your cause forward.
The goal you set should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. For example, your goal could be to raise $30,000 in three months. The target figure should be calculated factoring in your organisation’s needs and the impact that your cause intends to bring. Then, you need to factor in your operational costs and other additional fees that you’ll incur while planning the fundraiser.
Make sure your goals are aligned with your mission. The mission section of the fundraising plan addresses the reason why you need the donations. In most cases, your fundraiser’s mission will be the primary determinant of the kind of donors you attract, and by extension, the success of your fundraiser. Therefore, it’s imperative that you craft your mission in such a way that it highlights the values of your organisation. It also needs to speak to the donors and appeal to their sense of charity. Why do you need the donations? How will you use the contributions to deliver a positive impact?
In addition to highlighting why you need donations, the mission section may also include things like the fundraiser’s operating budget. Operating a fundraiser without a budget exposes your fundraiser to many pitfalls. It might even jeopardise your fundraiser if you deplete your operating funds mid-planning. It’s advisable to calculate the amount you need to make the fundraiser a success and break it down under the mission section of your fundraising plan. Try to keep your fundraising and operating costs down (such as staging a special event, providing snacks for volunteers, or creating a website) so it does not go beyond 25% of your target amount. That way, most of the funds raised will actually go to what your organisation needs.
This section is the meat of your fundraising plan. You have already determined the amount you need and why you need it—now it’s time to plan how you are going to achieve it by writing it all down!
Before anything else, identify the group’s assets and strengths so that you can fully utilise them. These include your previous successes, your unique programs and services, as well as your staff and board. After you’ve pinpointed these, address how and where you are going to source your donors. Start off by profiling your ideal donor by listing down the qualities you desire in a donor. Ideally, the kind of donor you’d be looking for is one that supports your organisation’s values and is capable of giving. Are you planning a fundraiser for an animal shelter? Your ideal potential donor should be someone who has a soft spot for animals.
Aside from profiling the ideal donor, take a look at your existing pool of donors and volunteers. Can they be tapped to reach out to their circles? Take advantage of your existing bond with them. Also, don’t be afraid to think out of the box and research on other possible corporate, academic, or religious organisations that could willingly support your cause. You’ll be surprised at how many individuals and groups will be willing to help once they see how the fundraiser will benefit a worthy cause.
Next, you need to determine how you are going to reach out to your potential donors. Will you do it face-to-face, through social media promotions, via your official website, or by sending out email campaigns? For a fundraiser to be successful, there needs to be an elaborate and effective outreach strategy. An effective donor outreach strategy is critical in determining if your fundraiser will become a success. The wrong outreach method might make you appear pushy or scammy and drive potential donors away. The right approach, on the other hand, will have donors opening their cheque books and writing you fat cheques.
The most essential part of a fundraising plan is the list of actual strategies you’ll employ throughout a given period of time. There are many different methods, but it is important that you choose the ones that match your cause. For example, organising a car wash day to raise funds for animal shelters wouldn’t be as effective as a bark park or a dog grooming event.
Increase your odds by incorporating several strategies in your fundraising efforts instead of just relying on a single source which may or may not work. Get creative and mix tactics to raise smaller amounts that add up to your target amount. As mentioned earlier, your animal shelter can set up a major event to kickstart the fundraiser, but to support it, you can execute smaller projects that don’t need a lot of effort to mount such as a monthly giving program, a peer-to-peer fundraising plan, a shelter gift registry or wish list, a bequest plan, or a compilation video of all the animals the shelter has helped so far.
For each strategy planned, it’s important to specify who’s in charge and the personnel involved, and making these people aware of their goals. Go into detail about how to execute the plan and inform the team of the target amount they need to raise.
Lastly, be sure to include a step that thanks your donors for every successful contribution made. This can be done by sending out a postcard with a heartfelt message or an email that reveals exactly where their donation went. Recognizing the donor’s contribution (no matter how big or small) nurtures your partnership with them and may even lead to more direct or indirect help from them in the future.
You have your goal, mission, and strategies all figured out. The last step is figuring out the time it’ll take to reach your goal. Timelines are a critical aspect in fundraisers. You need to set schedules for all the essential operations for your fundraiser to avoid last-minute rush. Timelines help you track your progress and prioritise tasks, so that you don’t spend too much time performing trivial tasks.
Make things easier for everyone by plotting all your fundraising activities on a single calendar, and highlighting the key activities and deadlines for each month. An effective fundraiser plan should have detailed timelines of all the smaller goals that contribute to the main fundraiser goal. For example, you can list down the specific dates you’ll need to secure a venue, send out invites, and hold an event. Clearly defined timelines act as blueprints to a successful fundraiser! By carefully planning your time, you can eliminate unnecessary operations and prioritise on the core tasks that lead up to a successful campaign.
More than just listing down specific dates for each fundraising strategy, schedule monthly or quarterly evaluation meetings to help everyone see where the fundraising plan is at the moment. Create a list of questions that should be answered at each meeting such as how much money you’ve raised so far, what hurdles you’ve encountered, how many new donors or contacts you’ve made, what new opportunities have appeared, and which techniques worked or didn’t work.
Remember that nothing is set in stone, so don’t be afraid to revise your fundraising plan when needed. Some strategies work instantly, while others need tweaking. You might also find new sources or ideas as you execute your plans. Through careful monitoring and continuous assessment, you can make effective adjustments that will bring you closer to your fundraising goal.
Organising a fundraiser may be initially daunting, but a little planning goes a long way. By sitting down and creating a plan, you take the first step towards pulling off a successful fundraiser. As long as you have an effective plan that’s aligned with your goals, you already stand a chance at succeeding in your fundraiser. Happy fundraising!