Creating a business plan for fundraising is similar to creating a plan for a profit-based business. To be effective, your plan should serve as a chart for measuring success and detail all aspects of the campaign.
Gather relevant information before writing your plan. Include organization background; job descriptions for board members, staff and volunteers; donor information; fundraising goals; sponsorship opportunities and time-sensitive activities. Sharing this information with staff and volunteers gives them the tools to be effective planners and communicators on behalf of the organization.
A comprehensive plan will focus on all of the fundraising activities over one year. These may include an annual fundraising dinner, which features a well-known speaker relevant to your cause, entertainment and a full-course meal. An event of this size will require its own business plan and sufficient planning time, generally 12 months, to ensure its successful completion.
Other fundraising activities to include in your comprehensive plan are planned gifts, major gifts, holiday campaigns, private events hosted by well-connected supporters and direct mail campaigns. In addition, consider small events such as Bowling for Dollars, Bunko Tournaments, Car Washes and Casino Nights. These events are especially effective when multiple chairmen host them simultaneously.
Draft a timeline on a 12-month calendar so major events do not compete with each other. Many of your supporters will want to attend multiple events during the year. Expand your timeline by blacking out the important deadline dates for each event. For instance, invitations should be sent no later than six weeks before the event. Save the Date cards should be sent three months before the event. You must allow sufficient time for graphic design, printing and mailing for all printed materials. Even information sent electronically requires setup time.
Every major event and campaign should be assigned a portion of the organization’s annual fundraising goals. Each event should be measured for success against this number. Supporters, staff and attendees should be made aware of the mission of the organization, its success stories and why this fundraising goal is critical to the overall mission of your organization.
Each event or campaign on your timeline requires a dedicated volunteer and staff liaison. The volunteer should be charged with overall responsibility for the event or campaign including recruiting volunteers, soliciting sponsorships and prizes and managing details. The staff liaison can provide background support from the office such as volunteer contact lists, office management assistance and a dependable contact.
Your fundraising business plan should include a brief biography, contact information and detailed job description for each supporter assigned to manage a major event or campaign. It is also helpful to include expectations for the staff liaison.
Ask for help. Opportunities for sponsorships are available through formal packages, in-kind donations, volunteer jobs and professional services, such as graphic design and public relations. This is the time to invite companies and organizations to help you, even if they haven’t helped earlier. Grocery stores may donate dessert. Wineries may donate wine for dinner. Jewelry stores may donate items for the silent auction. Your event depends on the careful management of these opportunities. Use your business plan to outline your ideas. This way, when your event draws closer, you will be able to focus on the execution of a successful event.