Writing your resource development plan in steps: Final Words
Welcome to the fifth and final part of this ongoing series of posts on how to write your non-profit organization’s annual resource development plan. As I’ve previously mentioned, this series was inspired by how many DonorDreams blog readers were clicking on the “Time to start writing your 2015 resource development plan” post, which I wrote a year ago.
Let’s quickly recap where we’ve been in the last few weeks with this series:
- Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step One focused on the importance of putting the right people at the table
- Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step Two addressed pre-planning activities such as evaluation and assessment
- Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step Three walked readers through writing a statement of fundraising purpose as well as developing both financial and non-financial goals
- Writing your resource development plan in steps: Step Four tackled the issues of developing both financial and non-financial strategies and tactics as well as the importance of creating a fundraising calendar.
Today’s post is all about tying up a few loose ends with regards to process. Enjoy!
Let’s bring this entire series of posts full circle by going back to something I said in both the first and fourth posts, which was:
“S/he who writes the plan, owns the plan. And s/he who owns the plan is the only person who will care enough to implement the plan.”
The Board of Directors
Please keep in mind that “planning” is a key role/responsibility of your non-profit board. With this in mind, the task force / committee I suggested you recruit in the first blog post does not have the authority to make your written resource development plan “the law of your non-profit kingdom”. Only the board can do so, which means they better have a seat at the planning table and participate.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that asking ALL of your board volunteers to sit down and develop a comprehensive fundraising plan is not likely going to happen. However, it might not need to if your planning process is designed appropriately.
Consider these two scenarios:
Scenario #1: The committee develops the draft resource development plan, and the board uses a planning retreat to become familiar with, discuss implementation, and take ownership of the plan
Scenario #2: As the committee completes various draft sections of the plan, those pieces are included on board meeting agendas where generative discussions are facilitated and board feedback is looped back into the committee’s revision process
Personally, I’ve seen both of these approaches work, and I suspect there are many other ways to engage board volunteers in taking ownership. If you’ve had success with another process, please scroll down and share your experiences in the comment box section of this blog.
The Strategic Plan
While most resource development plans are aligned exclusively with the organization’s annual budget, it is important not to forget about the strategic plan.
As with everything in life, ideas need money and the same is true for your strategic plan. Make sure that the strategies and tactics in your strategic plan find a place in your annual budget. This way when your annual resource development plan is aligned with revenue side of your annual budget, then everything will exist in harmony.
Another alignment consideration is to make sure the planning committee is knowledgeable of all resource development related strategies and tactics in the strategic plan. This will increase the likelihood that those items will get integrated into this planning document and take a form with more depth and detail.
Alignment isn’t just for cars. It is equally important for organizations, too.
Annual Performance Plans
Just a few quick words on this subject.
As I mentioned in the previous section about strategic plan alignment, your resource development plan should also align with both your executive director fundraising professional’s annual performance plans.
If you want to increase the likelihood that your plan gets implemented, then hold someone accountable for it.
Kinda simple, don’t you think?
The only word of caution here is that the board of directors needs to understand that alignment at this level doesn’t absolve the board of their role in implementing the plan.
Think of it this way . . . staff support the board who in turn make the plan come to life.
Monitoring & Evaluation
How many times have your developed a plan, adopted it, put it on your organizational bookshelf, and watched it collect dust? Unfortunately, this is all too often a common occurrence.
There are many ways to keep a plan alive and on track including:
- post-event / post-campaign critique meetings and evaluation
Before developing any of these tools, it is important to sit down and decided what are the most important things to measure.
When it comes to campaigns or events, the following are a few metrics many organizations appear to track:
- Board solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
- Community face-to-face solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
- Targeted mail solicitation phase – actual vs. goal
- New donor acquisition – actual vs. goal
- Donor renewal – actual vs. goal
- LYBUNT renewal – actual vs. goal
- Individual volunteer solicitor progress – number of pledge cards assigned vs. number of worked & returned cards
With regard to your overall resource development program, the following are a few metrics I’ve seen some organizations track:
- # of donor solicitations
- # of cultivation calls
- # of stewardship contacts
- donor retention / donor turnover (e.g. LYBUNT, SYBUNT, etc)
- goal vs actual on various revenue streams (e.g. grants, major gifts, annual campaign, special events, etc)
Phew . . . this five part blog series has come to a merciful end. Hopefully, your organization is well underway with its resource development planning efforts. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC