Two Tips for Developing an Effective Fundraising Plan

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“If you always do what you’ve always done. You’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

Several years ago, I was hired by an organization to develop a formal fundraising program for them. But every time I came up with a new approach to try I got the same response: “but we don’t do it that way here.”

Over the course of the next 18 months I had my work cut out for me. Most of which was centered on educating other staff members about what a formal fundraising program looks like. There were the standard concerns about ‘bugging’ donors and spending money on fundraising (yes, it does take money to make money). In addition there was a fear of change (also fairly standard). People were concerned about additional work that would be required of them and needing to learn a new way to complete processes.

What sacred cows do you have in your organization? And how do you convince people to move beyond those in to approaches that will work in the current environment?

Two key words here are ownership and planning. People are much more likely to accept a change if (1) they are a part of developing that change and (2) the change is part of a well-thought out plan.

First, develop an outline of a plan that you think will work (taking in to account past performance, resources, future needs, etc.). You’ll also want to collect background information on why you think those strategies will work (this could be anecdotal evidence as well as numbers from research done in the field).

To address the issue of ownership, consider pulling together a group of people who will be a part, in whatever way, of your fundraising program. This could include staff members as well as volunteers. Together, look at past year results, future needs and the outline of your plan. The background information you have collected can be shared so they will have the same information you, as the fundraising professional, has.

By being open to having others involved in the planning process, you’ll not only be more likely to have their buy-in and support, you’ll also have a stronger plan. That’s because there are many moving pieces involved in any organization. Something that you thought would be easy could be hindered by technology limitations. And vice versa, something you thought would be too complicated could be fairly simple. While it will take longer, having the people involved who will be impacted by your plan, from the beginning, is a good idea.


Two Tips for Developing an Effective Fundraising Plan — 3 Comments

  1. Kirsten,
    I agree entirely. Very few of us jump directly into significant change. We need to work our way up a ladder of change, starting with understanding how that change will affect us to believing that the change is best for us and then finally to gaining the skills that will enable us to make the change. After that, we need to keep practicing the new behavior and reinforcing the conditions that enable that change.

  2. So true Kirsten! “People are much more likely to accept a change if (1) they are a part of developing that change.” The mistake of making changes and not including the recipients in the discussion about the change OR as you mention, not being willing to give up old ways of doing things simply because it’s “how we’ve always done it” are both a dangerous ground to work from.

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