It’s the (hopefully) slow time of mid-summer, and it’s time when you can can step back from your day-to-day work for a breather.

AND – It’s the time when many fundraising shops look ahead and create a detailed, annual fundraising plan for the coming year.

I can assure you that a smart annual fundraising plan that lays out your strategies for the upcoming year is your road map for expanding your results!

We all know that a little planning now helps you stay sane later when things get really busy!

And helps you organize your resources so that you are both efficient AND effective!

Here’s my list of Do’s and Don’t for your Annual Fundraising Plan: 

Annual Fundraising Plan Don’ts:

1. Overly optimistic and unrealistic.

Be careful about being overly optimistic about what your team can humanely achieve.

Some overachieving teams are so ambitious that they overload their plan. They add in everything they need to do and then they add the strategies they WOULD LIKE to do.

I think it’s wonderful to be aggressive, but really now – do you want to commit to strategies that are impossible to achieve?

Do you want to run your team ragged? 

Be completely realistic about what you and your staff can actually pull off in excellence!

2. Pie-in-the-sky goals.

I am often surprised to see fundraising goals just pulled out of the air.

And I’ve seen fundraising goals set by superiors based on nothing in particular. (??!)

More than once, I’ve seen fundraising revenue goals that are just “plug figures” to make the budget balance. (What? This is no way to run a revenue-generating shop.)

Fundraising goals need to be based firmly in reality – on hard facts and concrete realities. Goals should be backed up by detailed strategies that outline exactly:

  • how the goal will be reached
  • who is responsible for reaching it
  • and most importantly – exactly what strategies and tactics will be implemented to reach the goal. 

Don’t ever commit to a goal without knowing that you can actually make the numbers.

Annual Fundraising Plan Do’s

1. Your plan chooses what your team will do and what it won’t do.

Many famous management consultants say that it’s just as important to choose what you will NOT  do.

That’s how you allocate resources to your most productive strategies (major gifts, anyone?)

Why? Because you are making choices based on a realistic assessment of your opportunities, track record, staffing and budgetary resources.

For example, if you only have staff to do 2 events, then you are not going to plan to do 4 of them.

Any plan is important for what it chooses to get done. It’s also important for deciding what NOT to do.

2. Your plan sets priorities.

Your plan forces you to set priorities.

What are the “must do’s?” And what are the “would like to do’s?”

Some things you just can’t avoid – events, board meetings, grant proposals, and reports  – these things are already cast in concrete.

Once those must do’s are on the calendar, each team member can then take a realistic look at how much time is left over for the rest of your priorities.

Want to know one of the biggest problems I see in many fundraising shops? It’s this – the work load constantly expands, but no extra staffers are hired.

Clearly, this leads to frustration, drama and burnout of the fundraising team members – which doesn’t lead to high productivity.

With limited time and staff, you will have to raise some jobs and tasks to a higher priority level than others.

3. Your annual fundraising plan dovetails with your organization’s business plan and goals.

Clearly your annual fundraising plan doesn’t live in a vacuum.

It needs to be completely aligned with your organization’s overall activities and plans – both short term and long term.

For example, perhaps you are a performing arts organization planning to stage 4 performances this year.

Your fundraising plan will structure appeals and events around these performances.

Or you are an after-school child-care center planning to expand into an additional school district.

Your annual fundraising plan will focus around this expansion in all your appeals and events.

Base your annual fundraising plan on your organization’s operational plans for the coming year. 

4. Your plan is based on current reality.

Your fundraising should start with a thoughtful assessment of where you are, what you have to work with, your challenges, and your unique strengths and connections.

Start your planning by taking stock of how well your current strategies are doing.

How can we tweak our current work and make it more effective AND more efficient?

What’s working now? What’s not working so well?

A smart plan forces you to evaluate:

  • Your current numbers and your trends – unemotionally!
  • Your ways of acquiring new donors
  • How well you are deploying your volunteers
  • Your donor retention strategies – and your entire donor communication program
  • Your web site and donation process
  • Your staffing – including organizational structure, responsibilities, skill sets, work loads, training needs and how well everyone is working together – or not.

That’s where your fundraising plan has to start!

BOTTOM LINE: Your Annual Fundraising Plan

It’s really important now to step back and organize yourself – and your office – and ALL your strategies and tactics – for the coming year.

I can promise you that if you DO create a smart plan – you will have focused, well-thought-out and doable strategies. You’ll sleep better at night AND you’ll raise a lot more money!

If you would like my help in creating your OWN annual fundraising plan, you should check out our Highly Profitable Fundraising Toolkit video step-by-step course.

The Toolkit gives you the templates, checklists, assessment formats – all the tools you need to create your BEST plan for the coming year.

  • The Toolkit takes your through a full assessment of how well you are doing and how much money is on YOUR table.
  • Then it guides you to set financial goals and detailed action plans for the coming year so you can systematically go after all those gifts and contributions.

Erica Waasdorp, Monthly Giving Guru

Can you pull in new monthly giving donors from your regular appeal letters? Yes, you really can. It’s actually quite easy to generate new monthly donors via your regular direct mail fundraising program.

Today we have a Guest Post from Erica Waasdorp, Monthly Giving guru.

Erica Waasdorp is an international consultant, trainer and speaker with deep direct response experience.  She’s author of Monthly Giving, The Sleeping Giant, an excellent guide to setup a profitable monthly giving program. Erica has directed acquisition, monthly giving, major-donor and planned-giving programs in seven countries: US, Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and South Africa for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Her upgrade strategy for the monthly giving program in the UK won IFAW and their telemarketing agency the Gold UK DMA award and the Gold FEDMA Award in 1998.

Erica recently gave an Advanced Monthly Giving Presentation for us:

Advanced Monthly Giving: How to Develop, Manage, and Execute Sustainable Monthly Giving for Your Non Profit 

If you’d like to create or upgrade your own monthly giving program with 49 examples of how to ask and close monthly gifts clink the above title link.

These ladies could be your next monthly donors!

These ladies could be your next monthly donors!

Here’s Erica’s guest post:

The two rules for closing monthly gifts via mail: 

1. Ask the right donors

2. Ask the right way

So who are the right donors, you might ask? The most likely monthly giving prospects are are donors who just gave! They can be existing donors, but even new donors who just gave for the first time.

The most likely monthly giving prospects are the ones who just gave.

They are also donors who gave less than $100. They are not your big check writers. Timing is crucial. They are enthusiastic right now, just after they have given. They have given their support to your cause. They’re happy! Now’s the time to ask them to either join your monthly donor program or for that second gift.

Senior Man Using Laptop --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Thank you mail — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Ask for a monthly gift in the right way – even in a thank you letter!

If you ask the right way, you’ll be able to convert new donors as soon as they join your organization. Here’s an example of the approach to use, right in the thank you letter:

Thank you so much for your gift of xx$xx to [name of organization]!

[Focus on why the gift is important for you and the impact it’s making on the people/animals/mission you serve].

That’s why I’d like to invite you to join a privileged group of special supporters, called [name of program].

[Focus on benefits and ease of program for donor]

Note, the benefits should really focus on the donor, how easy it is for them, how they can donate even smaller amounts, convenient. Then include a paragraph on how important it is to the mission you serve that the funds come in on an ongoing basis and that you can count on it. Print the text in large letters so it even looks easy and convenient from just looking at the appeal.

Where to make the monthly giving ask?

Include the option of monthly giving first on the reply form and add this option:

Make a one time donation.

Not everybody may be ready to join your monthly donor program but you will still receive donations.

I have seen response rates of 1.5 to 2% of donors joining the monthly donor program and response rates of 4 to 5% of donors making a one time gift in the thank you letter.

Consider doing a simple variation of this letter and send it to donors who just donated to your direct mail appeal.

What do you have to lose by starting to ask your donors to join your monthly donor program early?

They’ll stay with you a lot longer if you do!

Don’t forget to get Erica’s presentation if you want more help.

You can find out more and purchase the $49 webinar recordings here.



Do you have a solid fundraising event plan and timeline? One that will guarantee a solid ROI?

Can you throw the best party in town?

Can you throw the best party in town?

Fundraising events take a lot of time and energy.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fundraising events are here to stay.

They are part of the scene for many nonprofits.

Since you and your organization are committed to an event, let’s make sure it is the BEST event ever.

The Best Fundraising Event Plan is all about ROI

That’s the only reason you do events – to make money. If you want PR and community visibility, there are other less painful ways to generate good press.

Here is your path to a sane, efficient PROFITABLE event: a timeline that lays out what needs to happen when in order for it to all come together and make the most money possible!

You can download your Profitability Planning Timeline here.

Your Leadership

Who’s in charge of the event? What is the staff’s role and what is the role of your volunteers? Be sure you are absolutely clear on who has what responsibility!

Especially clear up who has what decision making authority – that will prevent conflict and hurt feelings down the road.

Nothing upsets a hard-working volunteer more than making a decision and then having it reversed by someone else. I know – it has happened to me!

Let's create this kind of excitement at your event!

Let’s create this kind of excitement at your event!

Your Volunteer Committee

I am all for a huge volunteer committee! Why?

Because they:

  • Bring their friends to the event! Your committee gives you reach into your community.
  • Are the “Social Stamp” of your event. Their names say whether the event will be full of fun people – or not.
  • Help bring in sponsors. Your committee’s connections open the door to many more sponsorship opportunities.

My tips: Have a big committee of folks who are well-known and well connected. (Well-liked  helps too!)

Bring in committee members of different ages, social and professional networks, regions of your community.

Don’t let your committee be a little social group – that will limit your organizaton’s reach via the event.

Your Budget

Early on, you need to set important financial parameters for your event:

Your financial goal – never hold an event without a goal. It helps everyone focus.

AND with the goal, it’s best to say “all proceeds from this event will go to a specific program.” For example:

  • All proceeds from this event will underwrite our programs for hungry kids on our community.
  • Or will help bring meals to lonely older people.
  • Or will help underwrite our fall performing season.

Be sure to put a limit on your event costs – invitations, postage, etc, or those may go out of control too!

Let's make it FUN for everyone - and highly profitable for YOU!

Let’s make it FUN for everyone – and highly profitable for YOU!

Your Sponsorship Committee

Getting those sponsorships is probably the most important thing you’ll do.

And securing bigger sponsorships requires tons of lead time:

  • You’ll need to enlist your committee members,
  • Draw up a prospect list and sponsorship benefits,
  • Decide who calls on whom,
  • Make your calls on the prospects,
  • Followup to close the “sale,” and
  • Get it all done in time to get on the invitation!

Your Venue, Food and Beverages

Your venue can make or break your event. Don’t let it be too large! Otherwise it will feel like there is no energy!

Be sure your food and beverages are ample, even if they are simple! You don’t want to be known as the party that ran out of food or booze.

Don’t forget to negotiate! You have more power than you think when securing a venue!

It's time to sit down for the auction!

It’s time to sit down for the auction!

Your Auction (Live and Silent)

If you are including an auction at your event – be careful – don’t go overboard with the silent auction stuff. Lots of tiny, cheap items are more trouble than they are worth.

I think the money is in the live auctions. But you need the crowd seated and pretty quiet and you need an auctioneer who understands nonprofit and charity appeals.

There are many, many decisions to make waaaaay ahead of time that can dramatically increase your event’s profitability!

Bottom Line: Create a Fundraising Event Plan that will bring in the ROI!

Be sure you make tons of money with your event.

iLeave me a comment and share your event tip with us all!