Sunday, July 01, 2012

What a Development or Fundraising Plan Is and How and Why It's Invaluable to An Efficient and Effective Organization

The Development Plan or Fundraising Plan is a master policy for a nonprofit to plan out, guide, and measure its fundraising for a specific period of time (sometimes one year, often two or three year periods, or more).

The Development Plan often comes about shortly after or while an organization's leadership is conducting organizational self evaluation and future planing such as strategic planning.

The Development Plan requires that the organization's leadership, prior to beginning to plan, have gathered specific pertinent information, such as: the organization's own recent fundraising record (from the current and past one or two years), its operations budget, its recent Profit and Loss statements and Balance Sheets, its programs budgets (current and recent), the region's economic forecast, and more.  Preferably, the organization has been recently conducting evaluations on its programs (asking clients or participants for anonymous feedback that is tabulated such as a client survey) because the feedback and areas where improvements are needed in order to achieve the organization's mission's goals and to successfully provide the mission to the intended beneficiary are critical for the leadership to gauge what direction the organization needs to go to improve itself operationally and fiscally (i.e. make things more efficient).  Too, the leadership needs to have current and accurate recent studies (either the organization has conducted its own needs studies in the community it serves, or it has gathered several recent and reputable demographics and statistics from the region's public library's reference desk on the beneficiary population and their current but as yet unmet needs).  All of this information is extremely important in order for the board and other pertinent leaders to be able to both assess what the organization has accomplished, at what cost, over what period of time and how that meets up with the intended timeline and budget projected before they were implemented.  Too, the information on the clients or beneficiaries of the organization allow the leadership to see where the population exists today and what needs (pertinent to the organization's missions and goals) it currently has but have not yet been met.  Finally, economic indicators (such as the organization's own recent fundraising successes and difficulties, projected economic climates by economists, the local media's projection, etc.) allow the leadership to determine while planning future fundraising what is feasible and how to budget for that.

Next, based on the above mentioned strategic planning results or outcomes (i.e. the final ratified strategic plan) and based on the organization's mission and the beneficiary population's current but as yet unmet needs the organization plans out its near future (again either one, three, or more years) programs and services.  Program evaluations, budgets, staffing, etc. are all developed along with each program and service plan.  After these are finalized and ratified by the board, the organization's executive director and board know what the reasonably projected costs will be to the organization for next year and possibly the next few year's programs and services.  Based on this information including considering economic forecasts and the nonprofit's recent fundraising successes and income the organization's leaders can next create the Development Plan.

The Development Plan, itself, is a way for all of the leaders, volunteers, and staff to know what the game plan is in terms of funding the organization and its work, specifically.  Too, it outlines when, by whom, how, how much, and expected outcomes for each fundraising event, fundraising method, and even for each board member, the executive director, and development staff member, too (for the Plan's time period).  It projects expected results and builds fundraising events (over the course of each year so that cash flow is constant and at a level as to afford the projected operating budgets) including operational details and then is ratified by the board and implemented.  Finally, as we've all learned over the past five years there are contingency or even emergency funding resources and plans included just in case.

The Development Plan is not just a key or road map but rather it is a tool that enables a nonprofit (when the Development Plan has been well informed) to confidently look to the next year and subsequent years and know that not only will it be able to afford to deliver its programs and services - it will be around.

For excellent references (either to purchase or note and then check out at your local public library) see any of the Development or Fundraising books I've hand picked in my Amazon store (above in the upper right hand corner of this blog page).


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