Business Plans

Now that you have the basic start-up essentials in place, it is time to focus on your actual plan for raising funds. In this article, we will look at how to set realistic goals, how to properly evaluate your current assets, learn how to organize your plan and discover methods of developing practical strategies.


Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals

The secret to success in this aspect of fundraising is to find a comfortable balance between what you hope to raise and what is possible to raise. In other words, don't set your goals too high or too low. If you set them too high, you will be disappointed in the final outcome and this will lead to discouragement for all involved. If you set them too low, you and your team will not feel challenged and will know that you could have done better, tried harder and pushed further.


There are several things to consider when setting goals for your organization; the most important considerations and additions to your document should include:

  • How much money is needed, to the nearest dollar you can manage, to run the programs and services you wish to provide?
  • How much money is needed to fund operations and pay the overhead costs of running your organization, or to finance a specific fundraising event?
  • Do you have an expected source of donations that is larger than all others? Will that particular source diminish over time, or will it increase?
  • Do you have any ideas for sources of donations that you can count on to generate income on a regular basis?
  • Which planned sources of donations seem to have the potential to expand and bring more income in the future?

There are multiple sources of funding for your organization. You should discuss your options with your team to decide which would work best for your particular group. Below are some of the most used and proven methods of raising dollars for fundraising:

  • Donations solicited by mail, telephone, or email from individuals
  • Donations solicited from corporations or foundations
  • Funds acquired through grants
  • Funds raised via special events and/or product sales
  • Funds raised via "in-kind" gifts


Evaluating Your Assets

Even though, initially, your assets may be small, your organization possesses valuable and important resources that should be evaluated at the very beginning of your endeavor. You should be careful to track your growing assets carefully and expand the list as your nonprofit grows. Some valuable aspects that present themselves in the early stages of development may include:

  • You! The fearless leader of the organization, and any partners
  • Volunteers
  • Paid specialists
  • Committed donors
  • Equipment purchased or donated, to date
  • Copyrights and trademarks
  • Potential or won grants
  • Your reputation, and that of your volunteers
  • Your organization's specific appeal to donors and volunteers


Organizing Your Plan

Nonprofits traditionally take their cue from for-profit businesses when developing fundraising plans -- and with good reason. What works for profit will also work for nonprofit. If you create a simple document using these methods, you will have a good, solid basis from which to develop more involved plans to later apply for, and win, government and private grants and/or funding for your nonprofit.

 Business plans focus on four basic factors:

1.  A description of the organization: Essentially this is your mission statement, as it will describe why your organization was created, and what the ultimate goals of fundraising are.

2. Information about the management of the organization:This portion of the plan outlines who is running the organization, its key personnel, and any and all volunteers and their capacity.

3. Target market information: Here you want to clearly define any competition for funds; list all those served by your organization and the area or specific place, if any, that it serves.

4.  Current financial situation: This is where the list of assets you made earlier will come in handy. You will need to evaluate and create an astute description of the value of your organization at this point. This will later be used to create a future plan for fundraising success.

Organizing your fundraising plan should be a relatively simple procedure if you have created a clear mission statement and tallied your assets as suggested previously. If you have followed these steps, you're already halfway done!


Developing Strategy

Creating a strategic plan is as vital to the success of your organization as your mission and case statements are. In fact, as with developing your "business" plan, creating a strategic plan will be much easier if you have taken the time to form comprehensive mission and case statements. The strategic plan is similar to a case statement in many ways, but it differs in several aspects, as well.

The most important components of a strategic plan are specifying your goals and objectives. While your case statement defines why you established your organization and how it will benefit others -- goals and objectives will explain the actions you will take to accomplish your mission. You should list all programs you intend to put into motion and how you plan to implement them.

Service categories: