To get your year off to a strong start, I’ve prepared a 60 Day Fundraising Plan to ensure your fundraising efforts are successful. Having a fundraising plan in place is critical to your success.
Missed the first two posts in this series? Go back and check them out:
Creating a Fundraising Plan: Days 1-30 (Recap)
If you’ve been following the 60 day plan, by now you have or are working on the following:
- A list of your biggest and most loyal donors.
- Meetings scheduled with several of your biggest and most loyal donors.
- A list of reasons donors should give.
- A list of programs and services that need funding at your organization.
- A list of ways for people to get involved and volunteer.
- Solid fundraising infrastructure at your organization.
- One hundred percent board participation.
- Identified grant and matching gift opportunities from board member companies.
Days 31-40: Create a Stewardship Plan
Stewardship is about thanking donors and follow-up. One of the top reasons that donors provide for not making a subsequent gift (donation) to an organization is that they weren’t thanked properly or told how their gift would be used. An important part of fundraising is making sure you keep donors giving to your organization year after year. And one of the best ways to do this is to thank your donors properly and tell them how their money was spent.
Developing a plan for thanking donors
Begin by creating thank you letters. When creating your letter templates, consider the following:
- Who is responsible for generating your thank you letters?
- How quickly will your thank you letters be sent after a gift is received? (Less than one week is highly recommended and 48 hours is considered best practice.)
- Will all donors receive the same thank you letter? Are there different letters for first time donors, repeat donors, major donors, board members, etc.? The more you customize your letters, the better your donors will feel.
- Will any letters be hand signed? Which ones? All of them? Only those over $500 or $1,000?
You (your board members and executive director) should also plan on making thank you calls. Think about the following:
- Who should receive thank you calls? Donors of what level? $100+? $500+? It’s up to you, but the more calls you make, the stronger your relationships will be.
- Who should do the calling? Board members? The executive director? Give it some thought.
- When should the calls be made? Ideally, within two days of the gift arriving.
Days 41-50: Focus on Grant Writing
Take a week or so to evaluate and improve your grants program.
1. Create a calendar for grant deadlines
If you don’t already have one, create a calendar of deadlines for current grant reports and application deadlines.
2. Build relationships with your grant funders
Take some time to build relationships with your grant funders. Add the following to your deadline calendar:
- Provide regular (quarterly) formal (written report) or informal (phone call or email) program updates to foundation staff even when they are not required. If the program isn’t going well, let them know ASAP.
- Invite foundation staff to your events and for a tour of your programs.
- Send articles, statistics, or other information that the foundations staff might find interesting or useful.
3. Research new grant opportunities
Take time to proactively identify new grant opportunities for your organization. Utilize a grant database, such as the Foundation Center to search for new grant prospects. Select two or more new funders to apply to each year. Select them based on the following criteria:
- How closely does your mission align with theirs (do you meet their criteria)?
- Do you or your board members know anyone at the foundation (staff or board members)?
- Do you have the capacity to manage the grant should you receive it?
- How much do they give? If you need to choose between applying to two foundations and one gives $10,000 and the other gives $1,000 the choice is obvious (all else being equal).
Days 51-60: Evaluate Your Fundraising Events
Many fundraising events are not worth the return on investment. They cost too much for what they generate, both in terms of staff time and money. Have you taken time to analyze your fundraising events? These last 10 days are your time to evaluate and reevaluate your events.
Commit to your BEST event
Identify your one most promising event. Commit the time, resources and volunteer committee power to help generate sponsorships and make this your signature event.
Cancel at least one or two other events that are not doing well. You already know which ones they are. These are the events your staff and board members can’t seem to let go of, but never seem to raise much money! Need I say more?
Ask, Ask, and Ask Some More
Fundraising always comes down to asking.
I was in a board meeting last week, and a board member turned to me and asked why I thought their organization didn’t receive any charitable bequests. I answered his question with another question:
“Have you asked for them?”
Of course, his answer was “no.”
For the last 30 days of the plan (and for the rest of the year hereafter) you should continue to focus on your individual giving program and regularly ask your supporters for donations. Follow these three steps:
- Create a schedule or calendar to help you stay on track with calling and meeting with your best and most loyal donors.
- Meet with the donors on your list to thank them for giving, provide a program update, answer questions, ask their advice, and get them engaged!
- Once you’ve established a relationship, schedule a meeting to ask them for their donation. It should be significantly more than last year’s gift if they gave in response to a mail appeal.
Keep up your asking and enjoy the success that frequent asking brings!
This series provides the nuts and bolts of creating your fundraising plan, but there’s a lot more on the subject that you’ll find in my book, 50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop.
For even more information, keep watching for my upcoming book, which is due out in April.