Strategic development consulting for the nonprofit community

Annual Planning: The Importance of Creating an Annual Development Plan

December 12th, 2016

Annual Planning: The Importance of Creating an Annual Development Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Wise words from Yogi Berra that remind us good planning is essential to success on many levels, and in the case of fundraising, can be critical to your organization’s long-term sustainability.

Why? Because good development planning will not only help sustain your mission, but it’s also a proven tool for growing and transforming your organization.

Kim Glenn

Kim Glenn, Senior Associate

Development planning starts with an understanding of where your organization wants to go and setting annual fundraising goals that will help get you there. Adding stretch goals that go above and beyond your annual funding needs is important, especially when your Executive Director or Board has plans to expand the organization’s impact. If you’ve ever heard discussion about the need to increase the number of clients served, add new programs, or expand in new geographic locations, you can bet that more fundraising dollars will be needed.

Whether you are a small one-person development operation, or part of a team of seasoned fundraisers, creating a written annual development plan gives you and others in your organization a blueprint for achieving fiscal-year fundraising and engagement goals – much like a strategic plan creates a blueprint for achieving your mission. An added benefit is that it creates a shared culture of philanthropy and accountability: everyone understands who is doing what, why, and when.  This is especially important when meeting your goals requires a team approach.

A written development plan can be in the form of a narrative document or a spreadsheet, but it should always include the organization’s funding priorities, dollar and donor goals along with specific fundraising strategies, who is responsible, and measurements for success.  Organizing by quarters over a 12-month period will help you work your plan in stages and ensure a manageable workload.

The Rams Club at UNC, a moss+ross client, has taken this strategy to heart.  Each major gift officer has created a written development plan which focuses on the top prospects to be solicited each quarter and includes interest areas, written strategies, anticipated asks, and projected dollars to be raised. It also includes plans for cultivation and engagement of future donors. When individual fundraisers set goals, their projections can help fundraising managers with quarterly benchmarking. This type of planning empowers team members and creates momentum and urgency, and it’s what helped The Rams Club achieve a record-breaking 2016 fundraising year.

Remember that the best development plans are fluid and can be reviewed and adjusted through regular check-ins with your Executive Director, other team members, and your Development Committee.  Don’t have a Development Committee yet? Be sure to add creating one to your new written plan.…

~Kim Glenn, Senior Associate