February 2, 2017

How to Write a Fundraising Plan

Two people working on a fundraising planTheir fundraising plan included beautiful graphics and lovely illustrations. It took months to develop. The goal was to provide a pathway to nonprofit revenue. 

Unfortunately, it was worthless.

 Thoughtful fundraising ideas, not beautiful layouts, generate worthwhile plans. Writing an effective plan leads you to a set of logical, concrete, interconnected steps that grow revenue. This post outlines how to create a plan that raises the revenue your mission needs and deserves. 

1. Make A Map. Just like a real map, your plan does not need to show every detail, just the essential information to get you from where you are, not to your destination. In your plan, capture the activities and when they will happen. To do this, create a spreadsheet. Insert label in the columns for months, opportunities, tasks, goal money, goal people, previous, costs, and notes. On the left column, list the next twelve months. As you complete the next steps, start with what you know.  Fill in activities for the rest of the year.




Goal $

Goal People




















































2. Opportunities. What opportunities will you take advantage of this year? List these in their column. Consider holidays, anniversaries, community events, and cause celebrations, such as October for breast health.  

3. Tasks: Actions plus People. Invest your thinking time here. Jot down activities that you will use to connect with current, new, and potential donors. Include group events and one-on-one activities. Assign accountability for each task. For example, in the March Task box, your readers see: Visit board members/ CEO.

4. Measures. Skip to “Previous.” Note any money raised last year and the number of donors involved. Leave this blank for new activities. Now return to the “Goal $” and “Goal People.” Fill out your expected result for each action. Estimate using optimistic but realistic guesses. Since all activities have costs, move to “Costs.” How much money and how many hours do you estimate will it take to complete the activity? 

5. Remind Yourself of Great Ideas. Use the “Notes” column to jot comments about estimates and information you don’t want to forget. You can also write: Needs more planning. Writing this triggers you to open your calendar and set a date to plan this activity.  

6. Move Forward by Stepping Back. Total the dollars raised and the number of donors touched. Evaluate your plan. Does everything appear realistic? If you asked the board chair from a competing organization to assess it, would they be impressed by the soundness of your plan?

7. All the Rest. To finish, add your value, mission, and vision statement, your fundraising budget, and perhaps a joint letter from your board chair and CEO. Add illustrations and charts to make it pretty. But, remember, this document is a tool, not a PR piece.

How to write a fundraising plan? Just like in cooking, organize ingredients and tasks to create masterpieces.

Would you like to know more about fundraising planning? Don’t hesitate to contact Karen.  She would love to help you to generate the revenue you need. Her clients double and even triple their income working with Karen Eber Davis Consulting.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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