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Progression Tracker

Do You Need a Funding Plan?
Introduction to the Six Steps
Step 1: Establish Priorities
Step 2: Assess Capacity
Step 3: Set Fundraising Goals
Step 4: Identify Funding Sources
Step 5: Evaluate & Select Funding Sources
Step 6: Write & Implement Plan
Final Quiz
Sample Finance Plans
List of Case Studies
References & Additional Resources

Do You Need a Funding Plan?

Picture of calculator being used by several people.Funding can often determine how effectively watershed organizations are able to carry out their mission statement. However, many organizations don't know when, who, or how to ask for funds. What's more, they may not know how to market competitive projects to their funders. These organizations have an unorganized mix of grant applications, special events, and member solicitations. By the end of the year, the staff is exhausted and they often don't see desired returns.

The problem with current fundraising efforts is their ad-hoc nature. Often, nonprofit watershed organizations fail to develop finance plans that could help them cope with the changing fundraising environment and unpredictable grant situations. Many watershed organizations, particularly new organizations, would like to be more strategic fund-raisers but have competing priorities and simply feel they do not have the time and resources to develop a plan. In fact, one survey done by River Network in 2005 showed that as many as 40 percent of watershed organizations don't have a budget and as many as 74 percent don't have a fundraising plan.

The result of the lack of planning shows up in many symptoms including:

  • Board members who are not active in the organization and its fundraising goals
  • Staff members who are reluctant to ask for gifts
  • Potential donors who are uninformed or unmotivated to support your cause
  • Fundraising history records which are inadequate or out-of-date. Current donors who are not retained year to year.
  • Projects that are off goals, over budget, and off schedule

Finance planning can actually save organizations both time and resources in long run.

Six simple steps to planning can ensure that you are able to:

  • Incorporate fundraisers into your organization's current activities
  • Capitalize on the strengths of your organization
  • Target resources that are sustainable and likely to be obtained
  • Create a plan that can be used year after year to guide your fundraising efforts
  • Provide a structure that will guide your organization's day to day decisions
Sample Fundraising Plan Chart, ABC River Organization
Strategy Goals Action Steps Who When/How Much
1. New Member Acquisition 300 new members,
1. Do a direct mail campaign to 5,000 prospects.

2. Each board member recruits one person a month.
3. Participants in raft trips become members. (50)
4. Buyers of raffle tickets become members. (20)
1. Staff with help of consultant
2. Board

3. Staff

4. Staff
1. May & Sept./$7,000

2. monthly/no cost

3. summer/no cost

4. fall/no cost
2. Renewals 100 out of 154 (65%),
1. Call last year's unrenewed members, asking them to renew.
2. Do three mailings to current members, one month apart.
3. Call unrenewed members and ask them to renew.
1. Staff & Volunteers
2. Staff

3. Staff & Volunteers
1. January/$50

2. Jan., Feb., March/$4,000
3. May/$50
3. Special Appeals $2,000 Prepare a special appeal to all members on lawsuit. Staff Mid-Nov./$400

It's worth the investment!

Citation: See Resources, Works Cited #1

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