Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step One

plan2A number of years ago, I served on an amazing team of resource development professionals at Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Our team’s mission was to provide consulting services and tools to local affiliates to help them increase their individual giving. One of the tools the team created was an online software wizard to assist Clubs with writing their annual resource development plans. While it was an awesome tool, it wasn’t embraced or used by those on the front line.
My suspicion is that the process and online tool made this important annual planning process feel contrived and the writing was stilted. As a result, it never gained traction. Just a guess on my part, but I think I’m close to the truth. Nevertheless, it was a great idea!
I share this short story from my past because one of the most popular DonorDreams blog posts in 2015 was one I wrote at the end of last year titled “Time to start writing your 2015 resource development plan“.
With this data point in mind, my plan over the next few weeks is to break the planning process into steps to help readers of this blog with developing their organization’s 2016 written resource development plan.
And since BGCA already buried their online software wizard (and none of it was copyrighted), I plan on sharing small pieces of those workbooks throughout this series online articles. After all,  I end many of my posts with the mantra that “We can all learn from each other!” Right?

Step 1: Recruit the right people to sit around the table

volunteers2You’re busy. I get it! But it will be one of the biggest mistakes of your life if you lock yourself in your office and bang out your organization’s annual resource development plan.
Simply put . . . “S/he who writes the plan, owns the plan. And s/he who owns the plan is the only person who will care enough to implement the plan.”
Some organizations are fortunate enough to have a solid group of fundraising volunteers that constitute a resource development committee. This planning project is exactly what that committee should work on developing and getting the entire board of directors to own.
However, other organizations aren’t this fortunate and they need to assemble a task force of staff, board members, fundraising volunteers (and even donors in some instances) to assist with this project.
So, what types of people should be sitting around this table?

  • People who are passionate about your mission and your organization
  • People who are resource development minded
  • People who embrace the idea of planning (they typically don’t have attention deficit disorder)
  • People who have time to attend meetings and even do a little homework in between meetings
  • People who are collaborative and have a track record with “engaging” other people in their work
  • People who have experience with at least some part of your resource development efforts (e.g. special events, annual giving campaign, grant writing, year-end fundraising appeals, prospect cultivation, donor stewardship, planned giving, endowment, major gifts strategy, etc)

Identify these individuals. Write them down on a piece of paper (e.g. volunteer prospect list). Go recruit these people.
When recruiting these volunteers, do it the right way. Bring a written job description or committee charter with you. Why? Because when you don’t set expectations from the beginning, volunteers tend to disengage from the project relatively quickly.
One of the first questions you will be asked when recruiting these volunteers is: “How much time will this planning project take? How many meetings am I committing to? What am I committing to?
Tackle these questions head on! Don’t waffle. Tell them the following:

  • There will be approximately four to eight meetings
  • Sometimes there will be a little work in between meetings
  • This process is staff-supported and none of it is impossible or “rocket science”
  • We will be respectful of your time
  • This project has a defined beginning and end (it isn’t an open ended commitment)
  • This plan is very important to the success of the organization, which is why we’re asking for your help

Once you assemble your team, you’ll be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
The next blog post will focus on assessment. Stay tuned!
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC