Crafting an Annual Fundraising Plan



An Annual Fundraising Plan or a Strategic Fundraising Plan for a nonprofit is truly essential regardless of the size of your nonprofit. This fundraising-centric plan will serve as a guide to your efforts throughout the year around outreach, asks, donor touches and much more.


"The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done... you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do." ~ Lil Wayne

At its most basic, an Annual Fundraising Plan understands the amount of money that must be raised by your organization to achieve your goals and devises strategies, maps out a plan and establishes benchmarks for getting to that dollar amount and hopefully a bit beyond. The very act of writing down objectives and strategies will put you miles ahead of those who don't. Articulating and sharing your plan with key stakeholders and referring back to your plan throughout the year will make your fundraising efforts shine.


1. SWOT - a great beginning

A SWOT analysis is often the best place to start. "SWOT" stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Take a candid look at the organization as a whole AND at your fundraising efforts. These can sometimes actually be two different analyses - it really is a matter of preference (and bandwidth and size of team and so on...).


2.  Dive into last year's data

If you are on Year 2 or more of your nonprofit organization's work, look at last year's efforts to raise money and see what worked and what did not. Pull real numbers from your CRM or donor management system and also analyze your effectiveness on a per campaign or event (or auction) basis. 


3.  Take a look at the upcoming year's top fundraising trends

While we who work closely with nonprofits love a good fundraising event or cause, there are definite trends that can be followed, or at least used as a guide, when planning your fundraising efforts for the year. For 2023, our friends at Nonprofit Tech for Good have pulled together some key insights and takeaways from the previous year (take a look: they're not what you might think).


4. Craft a truly annual plan (aka, you can raise money in the J months!)

Rather than thinking in terms of fundraising exclusively through events or campaigns alone, consider alternative means of giving, such as memberships and recurring donations, stock gifting and text-to-give campaigns. While up to 31% of charitable giving in the US occurs in December, ostensibly due to tax breaks, donor surveys around sentiment will tell us that tax breaks are the least likely reason that people give money. Make sure that your fundraising plan considers asking for donations, passively and actively, throughout the full calendar year. Watch our webinar with DonateStock CEO, Steve Latham


5. Finally, think: messaging and audience cultivation

When you are asking someone to support your mission financially, you are building a relationship with that donor. Every. single. time. So every aspect of your fundraising should be viewed through the lens of your donor and how they (that one particular person) perceives your organization. A few things to consider as you create fundraising pages, plan events and appeals or begin outreach are:

  • Consistent and easily understood messaging: simply and succinctly let people know who you are, what you do and why you are asking for their time (or talent or treasure). Make sure your core digital marketing assets are ready to go: website, email marketing templates, donation pages (watch our webinar with fundraising expert Rachel Muir on building out a stellar Donate Now page).
  • Personal outreach is best. Full Stop: There is no email marketing tool or social channel that will make an impact on individuals as much as a personal call, email or text from someone close to your organization. Get creative! Maybe your clients or those you serve can do some outreach, engage your board with a phone bank campaign or get your event committee to text their friends to sell sponsorships.
  • Donor retention is where it's at: The Fundraising Effectiveness Report found that in 2021, 43.6% of all donors gave year over year. That means that 56.4% of donors that gave in 2021 did NOT give in 2022. It goes without saying that it is far easier to engage a past donor than cultivate a new one. Thank your donors personally, shout out to them on social media, remember their birthdays - find ways to individualize and personalize your donor retention plans.
  • Reach out to donors where they are - on their phones: Text them, but make it relevant. Texting is the best way to reach out to someone, but you must have their implicit permission and you must provide information that they want.

You've got this. The key is to set a goal, make a considered plan and START. 


If you would like to take a look at the BetterUnite software ecosystem for nonprofits and see how these comprehensive tools can help your organization, please schedule a call with one of our account managers TODAY!