Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step Three

As I explained last week, one of the most often clicked blog posts in 2015 is something I wrote at the end of 2014 titled “Time to start writing your 2015 resource development plan“. With this in mind, I decided to take a deeper dive on this subject by writing a series of posts on how to go about writing your organization’s annual resource development plan.
The first post in this series was titled “Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step One,” and it focused exclusively on the importance of putting the right people at the table. The second post was “Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step Two,” and addressed pre-planning activities such as evaluation and assessment.
Today’s post is all about the next step, which of course is about visioning and goal setting. Enjoy!

Statement of Fundraising Purpose
manifestoWith your volunteers sitting around the planning table and your organization’s resource development assessment data gathered and digested, it is now time to cast your vision for the upcoming year. This can be accomplished with the following exercise:

  • Ask participants to take 5 minutes to jot down answers to this question: “Why are we raising money?
  • At the end of the 5 minutes, go around the room and ask participants one at a time to share one of the reasons they wrote down.
  • Capture these responses on a flip chart or whiteboard
  • Keep going around the room until there is nothing left on anyone’s scratch paper (ask participants not to share anything that has already been shared by someone else in order to keep the exercise moving along)
  • Facilitate a discussion around everyone’s responses (e.g. does everyone agree with everything that was shared? if not, then why not?)

Staff should take all of this feedback and incorporate it into a few paragraphs that some fundraising professionals call the “statement of fundraising purpose“. This mini-proclamation is included in the beginning of your written resource development document. In the grand scheme of things, it serves as a precursor to developing your organization’s internal and external case for support documents for the upcoming year’s events, campaigns, mailings, and fundraising initiatives.
The following is a sample statement of fundraising purpose for a fictitious Boys & Girls Club that I dug out BGCA’s now defunct RD Plan software wizard that I referenced in the first blog post of this series:

“The Boys & Girls Club of ABC operates six Clubhouses that provide more than 2,400 boys and girls with positive and safe  places to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, life-enhancing programs, character development experiences, hope and opportunity. The Boys & Girls Club of ABC relies upon the philanthropic support of individuals, corporations and foundations in order to sustain and grow its services. During 2007, The Boys & Girls Clubs of ABC completed a comprehensive strategic plan that showed a need for two additional Clubhouses to work with kids in the XYZ community. Studies showed that more than 1,000 kids in the XYZ community lack access to positive and safe places to learn and grow.
In order to add two new clubhouse facilities by 2009, The Boys & Girls Clubs of ABC will need to continue to raise annual operating support as well as complete a capital campaign for the construction of two new Clubhouses. Implementing this resource development plan, approved by the board of directors, creates and maintains a resource development program that will provide additional philanthropic funding to enable the Boys & Girls Club of ABC to reach its goal of directly serving 3,400 kids annually by the year 2010.”

Can you see why the statement of fundraising purpose is so important? It helps volunteers see your organization’s fundraising activities through the lens of your organization’s goals and helps everyone understand the importance of achieving your fundraising goals. It also helps reinforce that volunteers aren’t asking their friends for money for no good reason.
Goal Setting: Part One
goal2There has to be hundreds of ways to skin this cat, and none of them are incorrect. The following method is very simple, and while it lacks a ton of process, it will get you where you need to go (but feel free to use whatever process best fits your organizational culture):
Step one: Prior to the meeting, pull together a chart illustrating: a) the three year trend for various sources of revenue, b) the percentage of total revenue each source of revenue constitutes, and c) a blank column for next year’s goal. The following is an example of what that chart could look like.
blog chart
Step two: Facilitate a discussion among volunteers about what they see, and ask them to suggest reasons why the trends are what they are.
Step three: Facilitate a discussion among volunteers about where they want to see the numbers next year.
Is this three step process overly simple? Of course! Is there more to setting your revenue goals than simply pulling numbers out of the air? Of course!
This process is simply a starting point.
Over the course of your next few meetings, you and your volunteers will drill deeper on volunteer prospect lists, donor prospect lists, range of gifts charts, budgets, etc. We will talk about all of these things in the next blog post.
As the details get fleshed out, you will likely find yourself coming back to the goal numbers you initially included in this chart and revise them. So, make sure to use a pencil while facilitating this exercise.  🙂
Goal Setting: Part Two
smart goalsThe previous section sets the stage for establishing fundraising event and campaign goals; however, there are non-financial goals your team should also consider. Those non-financial goals could focus on: strategy, leadership, operation, donor relations, marketing and communication, and evaluation and monitoring.
These “process goals” impact your organization’s capacity to engage donors and perform resource development tasks.
The following are a few examples of process goals:

  • Engage board members in the resource development process by involving them in the cultivation and stewardship of donors.
  • Make sure that the organization has an electronic database that easily generates reports and enables effective management of donor relationships.
  • Develop a written stewardship plan whereby every donor receives a minimum of four stewardship impressions every year and the Top 100 donors receive at least eight stewardship impressions.

You don’t need a facilitation process to have this discussion. Simply ask volunteers to share what they think are “foundational issues” necessary to underpin the organization’s fundraising success in the upcoming year. Once you capture those ideas, try to distill them down into three to five goal statements.
If you have more than three to five process goals, then ask volunteers to rank those goals with the intent of only including the top three to five goals in your written plan.
After this meeting, it is advisable for staff to work on these process goals and re-write them using SMART goal verbiage.
Congratulations . . . you’re well on your way to developing next year’s written resource development plan. In our next post, we will look at validating our goals and creating strategies and tactics.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


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