5 Essential Steps for Creating a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan

Picture this: Your nonprofit is gearing up to host a fundraising campaign. You publish the campaign live to your website and wait for the donations to come in. However, you’re seeing very little progress, and it doesn’t seem like you’re going to hit your fundraising goal. How can you navigate around this issue and maximize fundraising success in the future? 

The answer lies in creating a strong fundraising plan. A nonprofit fundraising plan gives your organization the foundation it needs to lead effective campaigns. With this fundraising blueprint, your nonprofit will be able to tap into donors’ unique motivations for giving and inspire the necessary support to hit your campaign goals. 

Rather than heading into your next fundraising campaign blindly, follow these essential steps to carefully plan out your fundraising strategy: 

  1. Assess your current fundraising plan.
  2. Develop fundraising goals.
  3. Create a case for support.
  4. Formulate an action plan. 
  5. Create stewardship journeys for donors. 

A successful fundraising strategy should closely align with your nonprofit’s specific goals and promote your organization’s long-term fundraising success. This way, you’ll be in great shape to push your mission forward. Let’s begin. 

1. Assess your current fundraising plan.

Take a deep dive into your past fundraising strategy. What worked well for your organization, and what are areas for improvement that you can focus on in your revamped fundraising plan? For instance, if you saw low engagement and progress in your last fundraising campaign, your nonprofit may need to increase its marketing efforts. In this case, you might further segment your emails to send donors more targeted communications. 

An unbiased, fresh perspective can help your nonprofit see where it needs to revamp its fundraising approach. Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s guide to fundraising consultants explains that a consultant can reenergize your fundraising plan and tailor it to your nonprofit’s unique state. Do your research to find an expert consultant that understands strategic planning and can develop a solution specific to your nonprofit’s goals and audience.

2. Develop fundraising goals.

Goals give your nonprofit a concrete way to measure success after your fundraising campaign. It’s important to set goals that are ambitious, yet reasonable based on what you achieved in your past fundraisers. Take a look at past fundraising data and formulate new goals based on: 

  • How much you want to raise
  • Your ideal donor retention rate
  • A goal number of major donors and major gifts 

You’ll also want to set a clear timeline for the length of your fundraising campaign. This will help inform your goals and ensure they’re realistic based on the timeframe while still encouraging financial growth. 

3. Create a case for support.

To motivate donors to give, you need a strong donation appeal that creates an emotional connection with recipients. After all, donors are much more likely to give to a cause that they’re passionate about and relates directly to their interests. In your case for support, be as transparent as possible about your fundraising goals and how the money raised will be used. 

Specifically, address the following elements:

  • Audience. Who is your target audience? Are you appealing to major donors as a part of a capital campaign, or do you want broad-scale support  from all donors for your Giving Tuesday campaign? Ensure that your case for support taps into donors’ motivations for giving back to your organization. 
  • Goal. How much money do you hope to raise as a part of the campaign? Clearly articulate this amount so donors understand what you’re striving towards and how they can be a part of this vision for the future. 
  • Purpose. How will the funds be used to power your mission? Be specific about how donor funds will support your goals and make a difference in the community. 

Your case for support will also be helpful for your nonprofit’s staff, as it can be used as a tool to refer back to when developing stronger donor relationships and pushing your cause forward. 

4. Formulate an action plan.

A strategic fundraising plan needs actionable steps that will help you meet your goals. By identifying high-priority tasks and delegating responsibilities to each team member, you’ll be able to effectively rally your nonprofit’s staff around your fundraising goal. 

Common fundraising activities you can use to maximize your campaign’s success include:

  • Targeted messaging. Using email, direct mail or phone, reach out to donors with highly personalized, relevant donation appeals that refer back to their previous involvement in your organization or specific interests in your nonprofit. Targeted communications are much more likely to inspire donors to take action and give back. 
  • Social media marketing. To get the ball rolling on your fundraising campaign, you need to reach current and prospective supporters effectively. Share images, videos or graphic designs that demonstrate your nonprofit’s impact and the reason that you’re fundraising. Ensure that you’re posting content on social media platforms where your donors are likely to see it. 
  • Donor cultivation efforts. If you’re running a capital campaign, schedule one-on-one meetings with major donors so you can get to know them better, learn about their interests in your organization and explain the purpose behind your fundraising campaign. 
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising. Hand over the fundraising reins to loyal supporters so they can help raise money on your behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraising can be highly effective in introducing new audiences to your campaign and therefore boosting the funds raised. 
  • Matching gift programs. Matching gifts can help your organization significantly in meeting its fundraising goals. According to 360MatchPro, approximately $2-3 billion is donated annually through matching gift programs. To leverage this fundraising opportunity, research local businesses that would be willing to match gifts, or partner with a matching gift solution so donors can easily check their eligibility through their employers directly on your donation page

For each activity, clearly outline the timeline and how you’ll measure success. This will help your organization stay on track to achieving your overarching fundraising goal. 

5. Create stewardship journeys for donors.

While acquiring new donors is important, it’s highly valuable for nonprofits to invest time and energy into retaining existing donors. Increasing your donor retention rate can help your organization develop a sustainable fundraising pipeline year round to support your efforts.

Use the following tips to nurture donor relationships:

  • Engage donors beyond asking for donations. Get to know your donors’ interests and invite them to get involved with your nonprofit in other ways, such as by leading a peer-to-peer fundraiser or volunteering at your next event. 
  • Send a thank-you message. After your donors give, send thank-you messages that reference the specific amount donated and how it will make an impact. For major donors, go a step further by writing handwritten letters or holding exclusive events. 
  • Create a donor wall. A donor recognition wall honors your donors’ contributions by displaying the names of your supporters. Depending on your nonprofits’ number of donors and whether you have a central location, you can make this wall physical or virtual. 

Donor cultivation is a critical part of any successful fundraising strategy. By showing your donors that you recognize and value their support, they’ll be much more likely to give again in the future. 

A nonprofit fundraising plan will give your organization the support it needs to reach your goals, engage donors and achieve financial longevity. Whether you’re just starting your nonprofit organization or have existed for years, it’s never too late to come up with a robust fundraising strategy. Work with a consultant to design a plan closely tailored to your nonprofit’s unique fundraising goals and audience. Good luck!