December 18, 2017

A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Fundraising Budget

Budgeting for fundraising should include estimating both contributed revenue and fundraising costs in order to arrive at projected net contributed revenue.  Follow the steps below to build a successful fundraising budget for your organization.

Quantify fundraising performance data from the past three years, eliminating outliers (one-of-a-kind transactions not likely to be repeated):

  • Net Contributed Revenue = Total Contributions less Total fundraising expense
  • Retained Gift Dollars = Dollar value of contributions from last year’s donors
  • Reactivated Gift Dollars = Dollar value of contributions from prior donors who did not give last year
  • New Gift Dollars = Dollar value of contributions from first time donors

Analyze qualitative information:

  • From which sources, e.g. individual donors, foundations, corporations, is there potential for realistic growth in the year ahead? New donors?  Increased giving from past donors?
  • What is the basis for arriving at the estimated potential?
  • What is the estimated dollar value of that growth potential?
  • What additional fundraising costs will be incurred in order to realize that potential?

Synthesize past performance with potential:

  • Projected fundraising costs to arrive at
  • Projected net contributed revenue.
  • Include a budget narrative documenting the data and the reasons behind your projections.

Integrate with the larger organization:

  • Synchronize fundraising budget and goals with the organization’s annual budget
  • Secure Board approval

Written by

Marilyn Foster Kirk, CFRE

Marilyn Foster Kirk, CFRE, is Executive Vice President at TWB Fundraising.


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