4 Must-Haves for Your Best Fundraising Plan Yet

Image: aopsan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: aopsan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve been tasked with creating a fundraising plan for your nonprofit organization, you may be wondering where to start. One quick tip: It shouldn’t be a book! 

A lengthy fundraising plan may be appropriate for large, complex development shops, but if you’re in a small shop, I challenge you to limit your next annual plan to 4-6 pages. 

To make your (short) fundraising plan relevant, effective and usable—and possibly your best plan yet!—incorporate the following 4 must-have elements.

Your Fundraising Goal

A development plan, even a 4-pager, is a map of how to get where you want to go. Thus your first step is to define where you’re headed in terms of dollars to be raised. Are you working to raise $10,000 or $10 million? Be specific as your first step in setting a SMART fundraising goal!

If you don’t know your “destination,” how will you know if (or when) you’ve arrived? You want your fundraising ideas to align with your goal.

Fundraising Strategies

You might also hear these called “tactics” or “activities.” Whatever the term, this section is the heart of your fundraising plan where you address what you will do (and how you will do it) to reach your fundraising goal destination. Categories you’ll find in this section include:

•    Annual Fund
•    Major Gifts
•    Events
•    Grants
•    Online Fundraising

Responsibility Assignments

Once you have a list of the different fundraising strategies you’ll be pursuing over the course of a year, you’ll need to decide who’s in charge of each one. We’ve all been involved in projects with no assigned leader or specific roles, where accountability is limited or nonexistent. Give tasks a good chance of getting done by assigning each strategy to someone whose responsible for its success.

For each overarching strategy, such as annual fund or major gifts, you’ll want to break it into smaller tactical chunks. Then assign responsibilities and deliverables for each tactic to help stakeholders see exactly what needs to be done in order to achieve the desired outcomes.


Besides not having an owner, another reason tasks and projects fall by the wayside is because they have no deadline. Tasks with no deadline end up at the bottom of our ongoing to-do lists. 

A good timeline will showcase the big picture of your fundraising plan. It shows you (and everyone else involved) how different strategies build on one another. For example, how X must happen in the fall (create an event committee) if you hope for Y to happen in the spring (sell event tickets and sponsorships). 

Help yourself and your colleagues understand this big picture by delineating a start and end date for the strategies and tasks in your plan. You can even plot your activities into a shared calendar so everyone involved knows what’s happening when. 

What other key ingredients do you find useful in a short—but effective—fundraising plan? Please share in the Comments box below.

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click).