Nonprofit Network Blog

5 Reasons to Map Out Your Fund Development Plan Step-by-Step

Thursday, September 01, 2016 10:50 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)


Tom Williams
Capacity Building Consultant

You would never leave home on a road trip to Disney World without some version of a map to assure you got to your destination on time, would you?  Let's consider how this translates to the nonprofit world of fund development, where the “destination” could be that you reach year’s end with your programs and organization totally funded.

Your “map” for this journey is a fund development plan that is documented step-by-step. The critical conversations and processes your organization goes through as part of the map planning forces you to focus on the intermediate legs of the journey in addition to the end destination.

It’s all about being deliberate. This effort actually builds organizational muscle and enlarges the group’s capacity to address its mission. 

Taking a rambling, less planned route typically results in a few (and potentially expensive) detours, increased anxiety over the outcome, and a higher risk that your goals might not be reached at all.  Just like that that map for a trip to Disney World, a documented fund development map provides clear direction for the journey.

Here are five reasons you should map out your fund development plan step-by-step:

1. Build the Donor's Trust. 

A plan is a great communication tool to signal donors you are an organization that takes its mission and resources seriously. This is ground work for acquiring, retaining, and upgrading donors' gifts.

2. Engage Staff & Board. 

A plan is also a great internal communication tool to engage your board, staff, and volunteers in the effort to raise funds.

3. Increase Efficiency and Success.

The process of developing the plan is much more efficient than trial and error fundraising. It will help you to save time and money while increasing success rates.

4. Identify Growth Opportunities. 

The process naturally identifies areas in the organization that need to be built up and improved. Strengthening these areas that have been holding you back is key in gaining ground on mission accomplishment.

5. Provide Peace of Mind. 

A solid fund development plan has a calendar component to it. These dated benchmarks go a long way in eliminating frantic, last-minute preparations to complete a grant request, get the tickets printed on time, or identify the location for next season's event. This automated aspect provides the peace of mind that can contribute substantially to organizational morale. 

Often times, an organization that does not map out its fund development plan follows the same logic that we might use when we fail to exercise our bodies: We don't have the time...It didn't work the last time we tried...We didn't stick with the plan before and it only added to the guilt.

You and I both know that these are not legitimate reasons for not assuring our missions are met. Make a plan. Have the conversations. See it through to the end.

If you want to discuss the process of developing a useful fund development plan, contact me.  We can talk it through.

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