February 17, 2021

How to Get the Most Out of Your Fundraising Plan

You and your team spent countless hours planning out your fundraising strategy initiatives: discussing the specifics of scheduling, divvying up roles and responsibilities between team members, and deciding how to successfully track goals. After several meetings and brainstorm sessions later, your annual fundraising plan is finally ready to go!

Now comes the daunting step: putting your fundraising plan into action. Has your organization put their plan to action yet?

Things may not always go as anticipated, and that’s OK. A plan on paper is only as good as its implementation strategy — that's where we can help. 

Here are 5 key steps for putting your fundraising plan into action and achieving your nonprofit's fundraising goals

1. Make your fundraising plan a living document

You’ve put so much work into creating a fundraising plan for 2021, so don’t let it collect dust. Start by saving the plan in a shared work drive so that your entire team has access to the latest version. Then use your plan as a master playbook for the year. It will empower you to look ahead and plan for upcoming milestones such as projects and programs, to review progress toward goals on a regular basis, and to make course corrections as needed.

In this volatile environment, we recommend monitoring your fundraising goals every month. Download our free monthly monitoring tool to be sure you’re assessing the same data points every month, remembering that the plan is not written in stone.

2. Give your fundraising team ownership

No matter the size of your development staff, implementing a comprehensive fundraising plan should involve your entire team. Front-facing fundraisers are not the only staff who help you hit your fundraising goals and build donor relationships; think about the importance of timely and personalized thank-you letters and behind-the-scenes work in data services. Kick off the year with a team meeting where you discuss what it will take to achieve success and commit to work together to reach your goals. Encourage team leads to take ownership of driving their part of the plan. You can be an effective leader by encouraging everyone to step up and celebrating their leadership.

3. Define your metrics

We all know the old adage, “what gets measured, gets done.” It’s true! Define plan metrics and milestones that help you know you are on pace. While it is important for each team member to understand their specific accountabilities to the plan, it is also important to talk about what it means to be accountable to each other. Incorporate both individual and team responsibilities in annual performance goals. And don’t forget that capturing qualitative and anecdotal information is important too! It is so much easier to recognize progress and successes AND course correct when expectations are clear and written down.

4. Be bold

While you want to be pragmatic in making sure your fundraising plan is grounded in reality and best practices, be aspirational in your internal planning with your team. Make it fun to have some department-only goals that help the team stretch and try new ideas. When you do so, you are creating opportunities for something magical to happen. Progress toward boldness is bold.

Encourage learning. Mistakes happen when you push the envelope and try something new. If you’ve suffered an “oops,” talk together about what went wrong and how you can do better next time. Don’t walk back your plan in fear, but consider if you should course correct, change a deadline, or keep moving ahead. Believe in yourselves.

5. Celebrate milestones

In the race to meet goal, too often we gloss over our successes in the pressure to bring in the next gift. Stop. Celebrate the happiness of a well-stewarded donor and the connection your team made for them to your important mission. Take the time to talk as a team about strategies that worked well – both donor-facing and behind the scenes. Be intentional about appreciating that good work. Thank your team.


Stay on top of your fundraising plans and goals with our free monthly monitoring tool. 

Get our Free Monthly Monitor


Contributors to this blog post include Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt team members Amy Blumenthal, CFRE, and Anne Summers, MBA.

Written by

TWB Fundraising

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