The Development Plan – Measuring Success

Sections of this topic

    This time, calling it by it’s correct name !!

    As previously noted in these postings, “Development” has its focus on the relationships between the organization and its constituents/donors that can result in contributed income, “Fundraising” focuses only on the dollars.

    For a new nonprofit, immediate funding would probably be needed to ensure survival in the short term, but it’s quality relationships that result in consistent dollars over-the-long-term.

    It must also be understood that Development Plans are constructed for specific sets of circumstances — there is no one-fits-all model.

    Before the Development Plan comes the Strategic Plan … to determine priorities and where the organization wants to be by the end of this year, in two years, in three years … and for what programs/staff/equipment/overhead/etc. funding will be needed.

    The development plan functions to help you keep in mind where the money came from last year, what you had to do to get it, and what you’re going to have to do to get that same money this year. Secondarily, the development plan looks at how to increase funding from former sources and generate new money from new sources.

    At the end of the process of constructing a Development Plan, you have a fundraising goal for the year (or for whatever period you’re doing the planning), a goal that MUST reflect reality. It must represent what you know of the organization’s fundraising history and what you know about your prospective new donors.

    That goal must be achievable, it cannot contain any element of wishful thinking. If the fundraising goal and the projected income from all other sources don’t add up to what the budget requires, it’s the budget that must be trimmed, not the fundraising goal that must be increased.

    At the end of the year (or whatever period for which the development plan was constructed) you look at each element of the plan: what the goal was for each activity (direct mail, personal solicitation, special events, etc.); whether each of those goals were attained; what factors, if any, kept you from attaining each/any of the individual goals that comprised the overall goal; and, what you’d need to do to reach all of your funding goals next year.

    The development plan for the period just concluded is the basis for constructing the plan for the next time period. The new plan is based on the realities learned/faced last time, and its goals must be attainable.

    A fundraising goal cannot be set just because the Board and/or the ED says more money is needed. Board and/or ED insistence that the goal be higher (by a percentage or by a dollar figure), when the goal isn’t supported by history/reality, is a recipe for failure. And failure to achieve fundraising goals leads to a loss of confidence in the nonprofit and its leadership.

    More on Goal Setting next week.

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