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A Resolution for Non-Profits in 2013

December 27, 2012

Here’s a resolution all non-profit organizations can and should make for the New Year: In 2013, resolve to update and strengthen your development plan. Development plans are the backbone of fundraising management. And whether it’s a formally written plan with detailed timelines and specific tasks or simply a bunch of ideas written on calendars and sticky notes lined around your desktop monitor, your development plan needs to be updated and improved every year to reflect the most recent goals and resources of your organization.

A strong development plans serves as a road map for your organization’s fundraising strategies, events, and tactics. The plan should be a formal, strategic document. That means if you’re the post-it notes around the computer type then this is the year to put your plan on paper. All key stakeholders should be involved in creating, updating, and strengthening development plans (fundraising/development staff and management, general management, board members, etc…); this helps set the precedent that EVERYONE has an important role to play in fundraising efforts.

Every development plan is different because every organization is different, but the work needed to create and update one is the same. You must take time to assess your organization and gather information. What are you currently doing? Is it working? What are your goals for the year? Are they realistic? And what steps do you need to take to get there? Updating and strengthening your development plan can seem daunting but it’s probably the single most important thing you can do to set your organization up for fundraising and development success in the coming year.

The 10 components we use for development plans here at Access Philanthropy can help serve as a guide as you work on your own plan for 2013:

1. Framing – Who are you? How does the world see you? What are your greatest strengths?
2. Audience – What are your current audiences and messages to each? Where can and should you expand?
3. Communications – Is your current message clear, concise, compelling, and true? How do your communications pieces measure up to similar organizations'?
4. Institutional Fundraising – What are you doing in the areas of foundation grants, corporate grants, corporate partnerships, and public charities? How successful are your efforts?
5. Individual Fundraising – What are you doing in the area of individual fundraising? How successful are your efforts?
6. Online Fundraising – What are you doing in the area of online fundraising? How successful are your efforts?
7. Infrastructure to Support Fundraising –What do you have in place to support fundraising efforts? What can you do to improve or add to this in the next year?
8. Integrated Timeline – Map everything out on a monthly timeline (prospecting, grant deadlines, events, etc…). Is it feasible? Are there holes in your calendar where you can or should do more?
9. Integrated Anticipated Fundraising Income – Project your fundraising income by quarter. Be realistic. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and give you something to measure at the end of the year.
10. Final Observations and Recommendations – What are the top 3-5 things you noticed about your development plan? What are the top 3-5 recommendations you can make to improve your plan?

Updating and strengthening your development plan is hard but essential work. Set yourself up for success in the New Year by not only having goals, but also having a plan to attain those goals.