by Mandy Pearce

It should come as no surprise to those who have heard me teach or followed me online to hear me say relationship building is the MOST important part of all fundraising. I have been in the development world for over 20 years, and I still find this fact solid and reliable. If you take the time to build solid foundations in all relationships, be them individual, foundation, corporate, board, client, etc., you will be fruitful in your fundraising efforts.

Establishing a development plan is another essential element of successful fundraising. I have spoken to a lot of staff over the years who not only didn’t have a written fundraising plan but didn’t know what such a thing might entail. The basic concept is to list the diversified funding streams you hope to implement along with the goal and strategy for accomplishing each.  As each stream is evaluated, such items as donor strategy, timelines, metrics (such as average gift, LYBUNTS, ROI on events, etc.) are taken into account. Mind you; this is a very basic explanation for a vital tool in your fundraising toolkit.

A third essential element of successful fundraising is following the plan. Not only should a development or fundraising plan exist, but it should also be followed. There is little point to working to create a plan if you aren’t going to follow it. Fundraising plans are a step-by-step guide to what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and the results you hope to achieve.

Fourth, evaluate the plan. There is little point to working to create a plan and attempting to implement it if you are not going to evaluate it as you go. It is too late to make any changes if you only evaluate the end result. Development plans can vary in time frames much like a strategic plan. Some people like a one year plan, two-year plan, or more. I evaluate development plans with clients monthly. We assess the goals and how far they have come in each area monthly. At the end of each quarter, we closely look at the metrics and determine if they are on track to meet each goal, exceed expectations or possibly need to increase efforts or adjust expectations based on low performance or less than ideal conditions for success.

The fifth, and often never acknowledged element of fundraising success is realistic expectations. I have worked with supervisors who set unrealistic expectations for development goals because of egos or lack of education about how fundraising works. I have worked with over-enthusiastic staff who set goals for themselves that were not achievable due to lack of experience, and I have also worked with organizations who underestimated their potential because they did not have the confidence needed to grow to their full potential. Learning what can be done, how to do it and creating the strategies to succeed is where realistic expectation begin.

As you look toward the last month of the first quarter of 2017, what does your fundraising plan look like? Are you evaluating where you are and how you are going to get to the next level of your plan? Do you know the steps you need to take daily, weekly and monthly to be successful? Are you calendaring your activities so next year becomes easier?

What are you doing now, to create success in your fundraising efforts?

Let us know what else we can share that might help you as you work to create and implement your development plans and keep growing for good!