Here’s an oldie but a goodie. This article first appeared on the blog in 2013, and it’s still just as applicable today.

It’s January and that means it’s a fresh year full of possibilities!

If you haven’t started planning yet, you’re already late (this year will slip away from you before you know what’s happening!).

Planning doesn’t have to be hard or take a lot of time, but it does require some serious thought.

Carve out a little time to at least get the basics, if not all the detail for your coming year.

Remember that having a well-thought-out plan will move you from being reactive to being proactive, which will lessen your stress and make you more productive. And don’t we all want that?

So, grab a pen and paper and ponder these 7 questions before you finish your fundraising plan for the year.

1. How much money do we need to raise?

You need a specific goal for your plan. If you just want to “raise more money” you’re setting yourself up for failure. After all, how much is more money? $1 more? $100 more? $1,000,000 more?

2. Where will the money come from?

You need a mix of revenue streams to ensure the health of your organization. Will you raise money from individuals? Foundations? Events? Don’t set a goal without knowing where you will raise the money. And don’t try to raise all the money from just one source.  If all your revenue comes from one grant or one special event, you’re flirting with disaster.  If something happens to that one revenue stream, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep the doors open.

3. Who will we ask?

Be specific. Who will you ask for money? Create lists of potential donors to ask.  Don’t expect the community at large to support you (it won’t happen).  You need to target current donors, lapsed donors, and warm prospects.  Cold calling doesn’t work too well in fundraising and it’s no fun, plus we all hate it, so don’t go there.

4. When will we ask?

Create a calendar of when you will ask. Include grant deadlines, events, etc. to get a complete picture of your year. You’ll be so glad you did this!

5. How much will we ask for?

You need to think through the amount you will request from each donor. You may have to do a little research in some cases to find out how much is appropriate, particularly if you’re working with major givers. I suggest you tie it to something tangible if possible.  For example, how much does it cost to provide service to someone?  What does it cost to provide a meal or a night’s lodging?  What does it cost to spay or neuter an animal? When you can ask someone for a gift that means something, they’ll be more likely to say “yes.”

6. How will we follow up on a gift?

You need to know how you will thank your donors, how you will steward gifts, and how you will build relationships. You want to have this all thought-out in advance.  This is NOT the time to cut corners or be reactive.

7. How soon will we ask again?

Don’t be afraid to ask several times during the year for a gift. If you only ask once during the year, I promise you that you are leaving money on the table! If you are doing a good job building relationships with your donors, they WANT to support the work you are doing. Make it easy for them by giving them multiple opportunities to give.


Want more help putting a plan together?

Check out my new video training called “6 Simple Steps to a Written Fundraising Plan.” It’ll become your favorite ‘go-to’ resource for creating a comprehensive annual plan for fundraising. Comes with 17 pages of handouts and worksheets.



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