Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

5 essentials of nonprofit fundraising strategic planning

November 30, 2021
A group of nonprofit employees discuss giving day team roles so their fundraiser can succeed.

Fundraising strategic planning involves defining your fundraising goals and the strategies you'll use to achieve them. Having a detailed strategic plan in place before embarking on a fundraising campaign can be key to its success. 

An effective fundraising strategic plan tells a comprehensive, organized, and data-driven story that your team can use to help your campaign succeed. Follow these steps to elevate your fundraising strategic planning process.

  1. Set realistic goals

Setting clear and actionable fundraising goals helps you stay on track throughout your campaign. Whether your goal is to increase awareness or recruit new supporters, measure your progress with key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how close you are to reaching your goals. Some KPIs to consider include:

Your chosen KPIs will vary based on the objectives you set for your campaign. For instance, if you ultimately want to increase your monthly donors, you might focus on improving your outreach strategy and determine how you can increase their gift sizes later. 

1. Make a case statement

Your case statement is used to assess your strengths and highlight what draws supporters to your cause. This resource is a high-level summary of who you are, what you believe in, your fundraising campaign’s vision, the steps to achieve it, and, most importantly, how this plan reinforces your organization’s purpose. Ultimately, your case statement will form the basis of your donation appeals.

The main components to include in your case statement are:

  • Purpose and story
  • Data and statistics
  • Actionable campaign steps
  • Goals and objectives
  • Budget

A great case statement both serves as a logistical campaign blueprint and communicates this information through the lens of your nonprofit’s culture, purpose, and values. Striking a balance between the two elements will center your beneficiaries while also establishing your credibility with external readers.

2. Choose your team

Your fundraising team will most likely be composed of volunteers, paid staff, board members, and consultants. Even if they aren’t actively working on every ongoing project at this time, be sure to keep all team members in the loop about campaign developments to avoid confusion and promote cohesion. You can achieve this by holding meetings or sending out routine emails to provide updates on high-level changes.  

Fundraising team responsibilities include:

  • Conducting initial research into the fundraising landscape
  • Generating and maintaining prospect lists
  • Crafting fundraising messaging, materials, and collateral
  • Running periodic fundraising reports
  • Organizing fundraising events
  • Delivering donor thank-you letters

Regardless of your campaign’s roles and responsibilities, keeping everyone on the same page throughout the process is critical to maintaining efficiency and achieving your campaign objectives. 

3. Evaluate your assets

Conducting a thorough inventory of your assets allows you and your fundraising team to analyze your resources, such as budget, supplies, and staff. Once you understand your current assets, you’ll be able to allocate them properly based on what programs have the strongest needs or potential to have the greatest impact.

Here are some questions to ask when evaluating your assets:

  • Which programs best exhibit our expertise, authority, and dedication to our purpose?
  • Which (if any) niche markets, audiences, or services do our organization satisfy?
  • Where are the milestones in our history that best display our track record of success and/or history of serving our community?
  • What (if any) connections do we have to influencers in our community who can amplify our reach?
  • How can we better mobilize and empower our volunteers, staff, and supporters to further our purpose?
  • What about our organization’s leadership, purpose, offerings, and supporters allows it to stand out in the larger conversation surrounding our cause?

After compiling this information, assign value to each asset. Depending on the focus area, this can be represented by both qualitative and quantitative data. Ultimately, use your findings to hone in on how your nonprofit will use funds to strengthen your initiatives in your strategic plan. 

4. Explore new fundraising methods

Most nonprofits take advantage of standard fundraising methods like events, direct mail, corporate philanthropic giving, and grants. 

To boost engagement, you should also evolve your fundraising tactics to optimize interactions with donors. Here are some effective fundraising ideas for you to consider:

  • Online giving. Online fundraising revenue has increased by 60% since 2017, because it allows donors to give quickly, easily, and securely. Plus, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to set up your own online donation page. There are user-friendly fundraising software solutions for nonprofits of all needs, sizes, and technological expertise. 
  • Text-to-give. This is perhaps the most accessible giving channel for donors because they can conveniently participate using their mobile devices. Text-to-give allows donors to text a word to a unique phone number and receive a link to your mobile-optimized donation page.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraiser. A peer-to-peer fundraiser allows supporters to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit. This is a great addition to any campaign, as you’ll be opening your cause to a larger audience through your participants’ networks. 

Ultimately, the nonprofits that grow with each campaign have a diverse portfolio of fundraising methods that they regularly update to best accommodate their donors’ preferences. Use your donor data to find which fundraising methods appeal to your target audience. For example, text-to-give might be better suited for younger audiences who are on their phones more often.

It might take some trial and error, but once you understand what resonates with your donors, it will be easier to devise a strategy for the tactics you’ll use to reach them.

Putting your fundraising plan to work

Now that you know the key elements of a strategic fundraising plan, it’s time to put it all together. If you’re unsure of the most logical way to structure your written plan, consider using a fundraising strategic plan template. Once you’ve found a template that aligns with your needs, use it to excite your team about your nonprofit’s new direction. After all, it’ll elevate your fundraising practices for years to come.

Ready to Get Started?

  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing
  • Fundraising ideas