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Why Your Organization Needs a Fundraising Plan

At Manatee Community Foundation, we believe that developing, updating and being guided by a written and detailed fundraising plan is fundamental part of nonprofit success. It’s why we have an asset development plan of our own.

It tells us what we say “no” to, and it aligns the staff and board contributions in identifying, qualifying, cultivating, asking and stewarding so that we can grow our resources for better service to our community.

From an outsider’s perspective, a fundraising plan demonstrates that your house is in order. It is not difficult to talk about a compelling need, or how your organization plans to address it. Nonprofit organizations hold the vision for how the community can be a better or more equitable place for everyone. Many donors and foundations want to know what resources they need to achieve that vision. They need to know that an organization’s leaders are running an organization with more than good intentions for the work.

A realistic fundraising plan helps to demonstrate that you have carefully considered the sources of revenue available to you–foundations and other grant makers; individual donors at various levels of support and how you plan to get the second gift and move them up the donor pyramid; (hopefully limited) special events, earned income, corporate support, etc. The document should be right sized for your organization, and most importantly, useful.

The person who acts as the “keeper” of the fundraising plan may be different based on the structure of your organization—whether you are all-volunteer, have an asset development team or have an executive director who does (nearly) everything. But involving more people in the process of creating the plan and monitoring its success ensures more buy-in. This includes your board members and their imperative role in participation.

Engaging program, finance and executive staff in the plan, you can build the culture of philanthropy that is necessary to get good stories from the entire team, understand budgeting needs, and the power of realizing that every person you talk to could become a donor, is a donor, or speak favorably about your work to help you find new donors.

Some questions you might ask as you develop your plan include:

• Is the plan realistic and specific enough to accomplish what we need to in the next 12-18 months?

• Is it also visionary for the future? (How will more resources help us serve more people, deepen the impact we can make for our clients, or make our community healthier?)

• Does it align with our strategic plan or vision?

• Who is responsible for each goal, and how will board and staff work together?

• Are we addressing professional development and learning in the plan?

As you plan your work and work your plan, you will find ways to involve more people in the success of your organization and, hopefully, increase the number of people and entities that want to gift your mission money every time you ask.

We are always here to help if we can look at your plan or provide guidance.