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How to Write a Fundraising Development Plan

Fundraising is at the heart of everything a nonprofit does. Not only does it help promote a worthwhile cause, it also provides support to people who benefit from such organisations.


For this reason, it is vital that those in charge know how to write a strong fundraising development plan. Without one, this poses many risks to the event and its stakeholders. Plans like these help keep important projects in check. From setting targets to allocating budgets and meeting deadlines.


In this blog, we will outline what is included in a fundraising development plan, and how to write one to better manage your next event


Why Write a Fundraising Plan?

Many nonprofits like smaller charities and start-ups operate fundraisers without a plan. When someone has an idea for an event or a campaign, often the most planning that goes into it is assembling a volunteer group. The rest is just day-by-day as momentum gathers through the good will of those involved.


While this can be effective at first, the efforts can dwindle and become sporadic, as there’s no official document to refer to. When the big deadline looms closer, this can lead to panic mode, the approach can become a 'let just get this over with' as opposed to a controlled process that volunteers enjoy. An unplanned event can often lead to unforseen costs and cashflow issues, this can be disheartening for organizers and ultimately can have a significant impact on the amount of funds that can be raised for the charity.


By having a comprehensive fundraising plan in place, you can focus your efforts, better prepare your ideas and always remain on top of your tasks, it can also create a solid template for future events through checklists etc. The fundraising plan will also offer a structure that can be effectively evaluated i.e. What went well? What could we have done better?


marathon runners running for fundraising event
Whether it be a big or small event, every fundraiser needs a cohesive plan. Image credit: FrontStream

How to Write a Fundraising Development Plan

A fundraising development plan is a document that organises all of your fundraising activities over a certain period of time. This can be anything from six months to several years. It would be advisable to look at this in 12 month cycles, to be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.


The strategic plan outlines your ideas, and essentially acts as a draft before executing them. Generally, they include information about:

  • Campaign tactics

  • Targets

  • Team members

  • Associated dates

  • Anticipated milestones

  • Communication schedules

Let's look at how you can write a robust fundraiser plan.


Set Your Goal

The best place to start is by working out what you want your fundraiser to achieve. Usually, this always starts with a fundraising target. But you should think deeper than that - about where that money will go and what it will do for your nonprofit. After this, where will you find funds? While these may sound like difficult questions - they are vital in order to ensure prosperity. Fundraising within a non profit organisation must consider a range of potential income streams such as:


  • Grant Funding

  • Sponsorship

  • Fundraising Initiatives/ Events

The initial goalsetting should consider a global target across these areas and have an analyses of expenditure areas that are most likely to attract grant funding or sponsorship and indeed which areas are fundraising initiatives/ events most suited to. This process will help to create clarity for organisations in relation to the approach and who needs to be involved. This will form the foundation of the rest of your development plan.


Align With Your Mission

Every nonprofit should have a mission statement. Remembering your overarching mission is great for scenarios like these, as it can help cement the decisions you make.


Ideally, your goal should answer the question: ‘how much money do you need?’. Your mission should therefore answer the question: ‘why do you need it?’. This will more than likely reiterate why your organisation exists, and the specific type of positive change it makes.


By dissecting your mission statement, you can ensure that your goal aligns with this. You can include this in your document as a handy reminder of how important the fundraiser is to your nonprofit’s future success.


Assemble Your Team

Before thinking about tactics, you must first pinpoint what resources and capacity you have available. It could be that you need to consider those who are full-time, part-time or specialised in certain areas such as grant funding support or sponsorship.


When you have a rough idea of how many people you need and what their expertise is, arrange a meeting with them to brainstorm ideas. If you decide to develop a fundraising plan that includes elements such a grant funding and sponsorship, it may be beneficial to develop sub groups under each area based on the skills, knowledge and experience within the team or to outsource some of this work depending on the scale of the targets.



It is beneficial to take notes and include these development plan ideas in your document for future reference.


Small nonprofits can reach out to consultants for advice, especially if they don’t have a big enough team. Or, if you’re a big organisation that runs into issues managing a large team, a professional can give you extra help by guiding you through the entire process.


fundraising team putting hands together showing support
Having the right team to rely on is essential when planning a fundraising event. Image credit: MobileCause

Choose Your Tactics

Time for the exciting part! Now that you know your goal, mission and what help you have at your disposal, you can start jotting down ideas for how you’re going to raise funds.


This section should be detailed, covering how each tactic will fulfil your goal, along with estimated timelines, these should identify the most relevant source i.e. grant funding, sponsorship or fundraising. It should be specific in terms of what the funding is for, how much is required and where the resources could come from. Part of this process will involve identifying relevant grant funding opportunities, looking at potential sponsorship schemes and participatory fundraising options, examples include:

  • Garden parties or BBQs

  • Come Dine with Me inspired dinner parties

  • Fundraising balls

  • Wine tasting evenings

  • Quiz nights

  • Bake sales

  • Sponsored run, walk, or shave!

  • Dress down/fancy dress wear to work day

  • Charity boxing events

  • Bucket collection

  • Raffle

  • Bring and buy sale

  • Competitions

  • Local schools


Stick to a Timeline

This is probably one of the most crucial aspects to include. Without a timeline to refer to, all your efforts will be based on guesswork. This leads to easily forgetting important elements and time being wasted in the long-run, some of this will be lead by external deadlines particularly through the grant funding route.


Set realistic deadlines for yourself, starting from as early in the process as you can. While it may seem like more work, sectioning your timeline into stages will keep you on track and ensure nothing is missed. For most campaigns, the stages include:

  1. Planning e.g. briefing teams, contacting stakeholders, organising venues.

  2. Creation e.g. making promotional materials like flyers, posters, email newsletters and social media graphics.

  3. Implementation e.g. preparing for fundraiser launch using checklists for what’s completed/outstanding and creating outlines of the event itself.

  4. Monitoring and reporting e.g. measuring the success of the event during and after launch.


Remember: it is okay if your fundraising plan changes, especially with everything that has been going on with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Prepare to adapt if necessary, but always make your fundraising development plan a priority, no matter what.


At S3 Solutions, our consultants are experts in strategic planning. If you have any questions relating to this topic, feel free to speak to our team today.