Time to start writing your 2015 resource development plan

fred the bakerAfter spending a nice long Labor Day weekend in Michigan at a friend’s summer cottage on Saginaw Bay, I am now faced (as are you) with the long slide towards the end of the year. Not only can I not wear white clothing now that Labor Day has come and gone, but my fundraising friends should be starting to engage board, staff and fundraising volunteers in developing their agency’s written 2015 resource development plan.
The process of engaging all necessary stakeholders in this process can oftentimes feel like that old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial featuring “Fred the Baker” who was famous for saying “Time to make the donuts!
Additionally, some fundraising professionals complain that the process can be complicated and confusing.
With all of these things in mind, I decided to commit this morning’s blog post to providing you with resources, samples, templates and worksheets to hopefully make this exercise a little easier this year.
However, before we start, let’s review why writing your agency’s annual written fundraising plan is so important:

  1. It mirrors the creation of your agency’s operating budget, providing board members with the necessary strategies and explanations behind the revenue numbers they see in the revenue budget.
  2. It provides fundraising professionals an opportunity to “engage” their co-workers, board members and fundraising volunteers (e.g. as Jim Collins talked about in his book,  “From Good To Great,” getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats).
  3. It provides clarity around the goals, strategies and tactics necessary for success in the upcoming year.
  4. It allows you to take a step back and see the “forest through the trees” before plunging into another series of campaigns, events and set of fundraising activities (e.g. grant writing, cultivation, stewardship, etc).

Of course, plans come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
strategic planning implementationHaving two degrees in planning, I tend to get overly excited about developing plans, and some of my past resource development plans have been 50 and 75 pages in length (Yeah, I have gotten carried away). Those plans included elements such as:

  • statement of fundraising purpose (e.g. big picture case for support document)
  • goals
  • strategies
  • tactics (e.g. action plans for each strategy)
  • comprehensive fundraising calendar
  • resource development policies
  • range of gift charts
  • prospect lists of volunteers broken out by campaign/event
  • prospect list of donors broken out by campaign/event
  • budgets
  • toolkit in appendices with resources such as job descriptions, GRPIs, committee charters, etc

Before you contemplate going to the roof and throwing yourself off of it, please understand that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I recent purchased a copy of Pamela Grow’s e-book “Simple Development Systems: Successful Fundraising for the One-Person Shop“. Her book is a wonderful reminder of how your annual written fundraising plan doesn’t need to be much more than a one page summary sheet that ties back to a series of simple worksheets focused on:

  • grant writing
  • growing individual donors
  • public relations and donor stewardship
  • website and social media
  • how to tell your agency’s story

Regardless of what your plan looks like, I’ve scoured the internet this morning looking for resources to help make your planning experience a little easier this year. Please take a moment to click-through and review some of these samples, templates, and worksheets. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
First, if you have the time, I found this one hour long YouTube video from Emily Davis at GiftWorks on “Creating a Resource Development Plan“. It’s a great resource to frame your journey if you have the time. You might want to also share it with your fundraising volunteers before inviting them to their first planning meeting.

The following are samples and templates you might want to check out (because Stephen Covey always says “Begin with the end in mind.)

Oftentimes, national organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America produce samples and worksheets to help their local affiliates with their resource development planning process. Here are two links I think you will find useful:

Is your organization starting its resource development planning process for 2015? What are some of the considerations you’re looking at? What resources do you use to help frame this important process? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.
Editorial note: Since this blog post was published, it went on to become one of the most popular posts in 2015. Seeing this level of interest, we developed a five part series focused on how to develop your organization’s annual resource development plan. Here are links to those posts:

Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC