7 Fundraising Plan Must-Haves to Help Your Nonprofit Succeed

Creating a plan is the first step in the fundraising process that will help ensure that you’re successful. A plan will be like your road map for how to prepare for campaign, launch your fundraiser, and follow-up with donors afterwards.

We’ll go over seven of the most important factors that you should include in your fundraising plan.

Here are the must-haves that you should follow:

  1. Set a fundraising goal.
  2. Figure out how you’re going to raise funds.
  3. Map out your fundraising timeline.
  4. Determine your budget.
  5. Craft your communications plan.
  6. Create a follow-up strategy.
  7. Use tools to track results.

Let’s get started!

Set a Fundraising Goal

1. Set a fundraising goal.

The first thing that you need for your fundraising plan is to set a goal. Goals help you establish what you’re trying to achieve and what success will look like for your organization.

Without a goal, your fundraising won’t have any direction; you won’t know if your fundraising was successful.

Your plan can include one goal or many. In fact, having two or three goals is ideal as long as they are clear and specific. That way, you can cover everything that you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re unsure of what goals to set, you can always set a goal for:

Even if you’re not raising funds for a particular project, it’s still a good idea to have a fundraising goal. It will give you, the rest of your staff, and your donors a clear benchmark of what you’re trying to reach.

No matter what goals you decide to set, just remember that they will help guide you on what direction you should take your fundraising.

When you set goals, make sure that they are measurable and detailed so that anyone on your nonprofit staff will understand them.

Pro Tip: Setting goals is important because it will direct how you approach every step in your plan. Don’t forget to determine what you hope to achieve!

Figure out how you're going to raise funds.

2. Figure out how you’re going to raise funds.

Your fundraising plan should include the strategies that you plan to use to raise funds along with the tools you’ll need to collect donations.

If you’re unsure how you’re going to raise funds for your campaign, think about your target audience and the goals you’re trying to achieve.

For example, if you created a goal to raise more awareness about your cause, then you might want to plan a crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding uses social sharing and online promotion to spread the word about your campaign. When a donor gives, they can share their contribution with their network, thus spreading the word. Plus, you can gain first-time donors in the process.

Aside from crowdfunding, you can raise funds by:

  • Hosting a silent auction.
  • Planning a walkathon.
  • Selling nonprofit merchandise.
  • Creating a fundraising raffle.
  • And so much more!

Knowing how you’re going to raise money will make it easier to determine what you need. For instance, in our crowdfunding example, you’ll need a crowdfunding platform, a communications plan, and possibly rewards to launch your campaign.

Pro Tip: Knowing how you’re going to raise funds means that you can plan for everything you need and make sure that your ideas complement your donors and goals.

Map out your fundraising timeline.

3. Map out your fundraising timeline.

Your fundraising plan needs a timeline. Not only will it give you a deadline to reach your goals, but it will also help you figure when to plan every aspect of your campaign.

The first step to creating your timeline is to figure out how long your fundraising will last. When you consider a deadline, keep your goals in mind. Ask yourself, “Will I be able to reach my goals in this amount of time?” before you set a timeframe.

Secondly, you want to consider every aspect of your campaign and determine when it will take place. For example, your timeline will detail when you plan to communicate to donors, when you’ll host events, and so on.

When you make a timeline, here are a few factors that you should consider:

  • Any fundraising events. If you’re planning for an event, then you should consider what day the event will be on and when you’ll start selling tickets.
  • Your communications. Consider when you’ll reach out to donors. Is there anything in your communications that’s time sensitive?
  • Major holidays. When you create your timeline, you need to also consider any major holidays or other community events that may affect when you plan your fundraiser.

Your timeline will help you see the bigger picture so that you can plan ahead. Plus, it will be something other staff members can refer to when they have questions about how long tasks will take to complete.

Pro Tip: Having an organized timeline of every aspect of your campaign will help you determine if you are ahead of or falling behind schedule.

Determine your budget.

4. Determine your budget.

You’re probably aware that it takes money to raise money. However, you can keep your expenses to a minimum if you create a budget and stick to it.

Not sure what to include in your budget? You should consider the cost of:

  • Marketing materials: Your fundraising plan’s marketing materials could include the cost to create graphics for social media posts or the expense of sending out direct mail solicitations.
  • Fundraising events: If you’re hosting a fundraising event, then add up the estimated cost for the event space, decorations, and other expenses.
  • Unexpected situations: Unfortunately, problems can occur and often without any warning. Having a contingency in the budget will help you prepare for the unexpected.

Having a budget is important if you want plan for your fundraiser. Not only will it help you stay on track, it will also help you prepare for unforeseen circumstances.

Pro Tip: Create a budget to help you establish how much you want spend on your fundraising efforts. And stick to it!

Craft your communications plan.

5. Craft a communications plan.

A communications plan will lay out how you plan to interact with your donors during your fundraiser. This part in the planning process is important because it will help you maintain a consistent message throughout the campaign.

If you want to create a strategy for how you communicate with donors, start off by figuring out who your target audience is. You’ve probably put some thought into who this is when you were creating your goals or how you were going to raise funds.

Now it’s time to figure out what message you’re going to communicate. Perhaps you’re trying to raise funds for a particular project. If that’s the case, you should create posts, tweets, and other content explaining to donors why you’re raising money.

Additionally, your communications should tell a story so that your nonprofit is memorable to the donor. Stories also help make your content more engaging for the donor.

Another part of your communications plan is deciding what channels you’re going to use to interact with donors. You can use channels like your social media accounts and email newsletters.

When you pick your communication channels, use the ones that make the most sense for your donors. Consider your target audience and what their preferred means of communication are before you finalize what methods to use.

Pro Tip: Your fundraising plan should detail how you plan to communicate with donors so that you have a consistent message throughout your campaign.

Craft your communications plan.

6. Create a follow-up strategy.

While many of the factors for creating a fundraising plan help you prepare for what happens during the campaign, you also need to plan for what happens after your campaign is over.

With a follow-up strategy in place, you’ll know exactly how to interact with donors after they’ve contributed to your nonprofit. When you follow up with donors, you’ll be one step closer to developing long-lasting relationships with them.

Your strategy should include sending out thank-you letters soon after a donor gives to your nonprofit. That way, you can start the stewardship process early to keep them engaged in your nonprofit.

In addition to an acknowledgement, you can also stay in contact with donors by:

  • Suggesting other ways they can support your organization.
  • Updating them on how their funds are being used.
  • Sending them success stories about the communities, people, or animals that you serve.

Brainstorm other ways you can keep in touch with donors so that your interactions are creative and interesting.

Additionally, don’t forget to engage your donors in conversation. If you want to improve your donor stewardship and build meaningful relationships, it’s important to make sure that you give donors the opportunity to speak.

Ask them questions and get their feedback. Not only will this help you see how supporters feel about your organization, but it will also show that you care about their support.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to think about what happens after your campaign. The follow-up is just as important as reaching your goal because it helps build strong relationships with donors so that the want to continue supporting your cause.

Use tools to track results.

7. Use tools to track results.

As you create your fundraising plan, you need to consider what additional tools you’ll need to make your campaign successful, like a tool to track your fundraising results.

Having a way to track your results will help you evaluate whether or not your campaign was successful.

And if you weren’t able to meet your goal, it can also help you evaluate where you need to improve or what you can do differently the next time around.

With all that said, having the proper fundraising tracking tools is important no matter what kind of fundraiser you’re planning.

Depending on the campaign you’re trying to host, you might already have a way to track results. Let’s go back to our crowdfunding example. The platform that you’re using may have a dashboard with tools to track your campaign’s success.

If your fundraising plan is going to include multiple tracking components, make sure that your main nonprofit CRM integrates with other software. That way, everything will be easy to analyze, and all the information will be in one location.

Pro Tip: Knowing what tracking tools you are going to use during the planning stage will make it easier to analyze results at the end of your campaign.


Now that you know the seven fundraising plan must-haves, you’re ready to get started on your own plan.

Once you include these things, you can create a cohesive fundraising campaign that will help you reach your goals.

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