Do you want the “secret sauce” for raising more money?
According to our colleague Heather Yandow at Third Space Studio, it’s not really a secret. She just released the fourth annual Individual Donor Benchmark Report, which you can get here.
Heather compiled fundraising data from 87 grassroots organizations across North America, each with budgets of $2 million or less. The report covers a wide range of topics – online fundraising, major gifts, monthly giving, board involvement, and so on.
It’s a highly accessible, fun read. If you’re a data geek, you will absolutely love this project.
Fundraising Plans: The Key to Fundraising Success
To quote the report, “Our resident data expert poured over the data to find correlations between fundraising results (average gift, number of donors, individual donor revenue, etc.) and fundraising supports and activities (salary, board involvement, meetings, etc.)
“The ONLY thing that matters is whether your organization has a fundraising plan. If you don’t have a plan, then hiring new staff, engaging your board, or doing any other activities are, to quote our expert, ‘no better than a crap shoot.’”
Obviously, this isn’t a secret. But as trainer, it makes me wonder – when I lead a workshop on major gifts or board engagement or earned income, how many people in the room can take what they learn and plug it into an overall fundraising plan? How many of them actually have a plan?
Do YOU have a fundraising plan? Do you use it? If you’re a consultant or trainer, how hard are you pushing your clients and students to create plans?
A Great Training to Develop Your Fundraising Plan
The best strategy for an effective training is always to engage the group using exercises and small-group conversations. To help people learn about fundraising planning, and start developing a plan, what activities would you create?
Here’s my basic outline for a half-day workshop, minus the icebreakers, introductions, breaks, and debriefings after each exercise.
- Individual exercise: Self-assessment checklist – is your organization ready to make a plan?
- Lecture: Review nonprofit income data and options, including individual donors, grants, and earned income.
- Small group exercise: Discuss the pros and cons of each kind of revenue.
- Individual exercise: Identify the best long-term mix of income for your organization. (Hint: There is no generic “right answer” to this question.)
- Lecture, then small groups: Review sample fundraising plans and templates, then identify what you want to borrow or adapt for your plan.
- Small group exercise: Creating a fundraising planning calendar, using a case study organization.
- Small group exercise: Brainstorm what metrics you might include in your plan – not just dollars raised – to track your results.
- Pair exercise: Create your own next steps to implement what you’ve learned in the workshop.
Notice how much of the work is done by the participants, and how little – beyond preparation and facilitation – is done by the trainer. For this reason alone, it’s one of my favorite workshops!
I’d be happy to share the training materials. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without a Plan, Fundraising Doesn’t Work
To paraphrase the Individual Donor Benchmark Report – if you don’t have a plan, there is no correlation between the number of fundraising staff you hire, how much you pay them, how often you meet with donors…and how much money you raise.
So get yourself a plan … and train others how to plan, too.