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Why Fundraising Is Easier With a Strategic Plan In-Hand

Why Fundraising Is Easier With a Strategic Plan In-Hand

I want to talk for just a second about
strategic planning. It is very helpful for a grant writer whether they are a
contract grant writer or a staff person to have access to a strategic plan for
any nonprofit that they are gonna be writing grants for – lots of reasons for
this. 1) It really helps clarify from the organization’s perspective what it
is they’re trying to do and how it is they’re trying to get there. It helps
support the grant writing process by saying – this is why we’re writing this
grant. This is what we’re hoping to accomplish with it. This is what we’re
hoping to have out in two years, etc., etc. It helps with the creation of goals and
objectives. It helps create outcome projections. It helps create evaluation
methods, and once that’s created in the document like a strategic plan, it’s a
lot less work on staff and departments to be able to say what they’re gonna do
and how they’re gonna do it. You don’t have to recreate the wheel every time
you write a new program or project grant. Heck you don’t even have to do that when
you write organization grants because you’ve already got your goals and
objectives created and approved at a board level for the whole organization,
and hopefully your staff have been a part of that process and can use that
tool. When I was a development director, it was my strongest tool in my
fundraising toolkit to be able to take that strategic plan to a donor and say –
here’s our three-year plan. This is what we’ve already accomplished. This is how
we’re gonna get to the next level. This is where we’ll be at the end of next
year. We’d love for you to be a part of that. Some foundations asked for a copy
of your strategic plan, and I’ll just be honest lately, I’ve worked in the past
couple of years with organizations who didn’t have a strategic plan, who had no
idea where they wanted to be or how they wanted to get there, spent a year or more
in the strategic planning process, and it does not take that long. Okay, anybody
who’s telling you oh my God, it’s gonna take you a year to put your strategic
plan together is crazy. Does not take that long. It might take that long if
your boards not involved, if nobody can come to
census on what it is you want to do and how you want to do it, and if nobody can
make a decision to move forward with it. Yes it might take that long. I have
worked with people who have taken way longer than a year.
But it shouldn’t. It doesn’t need to. This process can happen in a much quicker
timeframe. You know it can happen in a week to three months can be a successful
strategic planning process. It can be longer depending on the size
organization you’re working with, and the number of departments that you’re
working with, if it’s a national organization, or an international
organization that has lots and lots of different things to put into that
strategic plan, but for most small to mid-size nonprofits, it does not take
that long. So back to the conversation. Off my soapbox. If you aren’t providing
your development staff or your contract development staff with a strategic plan
or you haven’t even thought about a strategic plan, I’m going to encourage
you to stop what you’re doing and sit down and figure that piece out with your
board. Because even if you’re a new nonprofit or you’re thinking about
starting a non-profit or you’re in your first year of being a non-profit, you
should have a strategic plan. So in the for-profit world we call that a business
plan. It’s exactly the same thing – it’s a strategic plan. It says who you are, where
you are, where you want to be, and how you’re gonna get there. It’s your… it’s
your finance plan, it’s your donor relations plan. If you
have a membership model, it’s how you’re going to grow that. It’s how you’re gonna
impact the community, what are your major programs and your primary activities and
and put it all in writing with timelines and who’s accountable and goals and
objectives and measurable outcomes. So if you’re not doing that, you’re really
tying the hands of the person that you’re asking to help you raise money,
whether it’s through grant writing or any other means. Whether you’re going to
talk to people about plan gifts whether you’re going out into the community and
making an ask of a civic organization or you trying to develop a business
sponsorship program. If you don’t have the ability to say who you are, what
you’re doing, and how you’re going to get there, it’s hard to get people to give
you money. It’s hard to be able to share with them what the return on their
investment is going to be. Because you haven’t really put it down on paper for
yourself. So if you haven’t gotten there yet, I
encourage you to start the process. I’m not saying you can go out today and have
a strategic plan by next week, but once you start the process, once you’re
committed to that, it shouldn’t take terribly long if you have the right
people helping you. So I encourage you to do that. Talk with your board, talk with
your staff, and see if you can’t get that in hand so you can make it easier for
folks to give you money. All right, keep growing for good! We’ll see you soon.

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