What is Strategic Fundraising?
A strategic approach to fundraising is about taking a longer term view of your organisation’s fundraising activities. Closely aligned with your overall organisation’s strategic objectives, a strategic fundraising plan helps steer a long term course for fundraising beyond the day-to-day demands of ‘firefighting’ to plug short term budget gaps.
Steps involved to create a Strategic Fundraising Plan
- Create your Fundraising Objectives:
These need to align with your organisation’s overall strategic direction and be ambitious enough to fund the programmes set out in your strategic plan. The objectives must be achievable, measurable and time-bound.
- Explore Fundraising Methods:
What is your budget for fundraising? What has and hasn’t worked for you in the past? What methods are your peers and organisations of a similar size using and how successful have they been? (one place to find out more about your peers’ fundraising performance is to subscribe to the Irish Giving Index. Where do your key fundraising strengths lie? Can you convert once-off and sporadic donations to regular giving? Can you strengthen your relationships with your top donors? Why consider relationship based fundraising?
- Ask if fundraising methods new to your organisation might improve your fundraising performance.
This could be a regular or major gifts programme, a new focus on legacy giving or even a consideration of trending cryptocurrency fundraising methods (being an early innovator can deliver great results, but beware the inherent risks!).
- Build a team and allocate tasks, responsibilities and resources:
A well briefed, co-ordinated and motivated team needs to work together to deliver the plan.
- What role would a capital project play in your strategic fundraising plan?
While initially it may be something well out on your horizon, it is better to include it now as an aspiration so potential major donors are aware of your long term ambitions.
- Why do you need and merit support?
Developing a compelling case for support will be the key driver in the success of your fundraising plan. Communicate, communicate, communicate with all your stakeholders: for example, public bodies, donors, media, service users. Different messages will be required and at certain times, specialists may have to employed to ensure the right messages are delivered to the right people at the right time.
- Donors will need to be updated with how you are progressing and how their donations are making a difference.
Building a donor communications objective into your strategic fundraising plan is critical for relationship based fundraising. Success in achieving objectives will instil trust with donors and encourage continued involvement.
How a clear Mission, Vision and Values will help form your Strategic Fundraising plan
Explore fundraising opportunities that support your mission. Beware of mission drift: a common pitfall experienced by organisations seeking piecemeal funding is to develop programmes to fit available funding. This may ultimately lead your organisation down a path that distracts from its reason for existence. When exploring funding grants, get into the habit of asking ‘how would that support us in delivering on our mission?’. If you are unable to answer this when considering a funding application, this likely isn’t the right fund for you. There are donors and grants out there that match your organisation’s vision and values.
If your organisation starts to struggle with funding, it is important not to lose sight of your organisation’s long-term vision. Your ability to demonstrate future plans is vital to appealing to donors and philanthropic funders. Strategic fundraising, after all, is more than just keeping the lights on. It demands a clear, long-term action plan with an actionable implementation plan.
Taking the first step
If you are considering developing a new fundraising strategy for your organisation or wish to review your existing strategy, reach out to Rob Foley, 2into3’s Head of Fundraising Advisory Practice, to discuss further: firstname.lastname@example.org +353 86 032 7935