Before You Launch a Fundraising Campaign

When it comes to fundraising, my biggest pet peeve is when nonprofits move forward with a capital campaign without having an institutional plan to guide it. Without an institutional plan to outline the goals for the future, it is very difficult for organizations to raise major gifts to support capital priorities and/or endowments.

When it comes to institutional planning, the best place to start is for institutional leaders to develop a strategic plan. The strategic plan helps to answer the question “In what direction do we want our organization to advance?” Answering this question cannot be done by the leaders alone. It is absolutely essential that the organization engages all key constituents in the strategic planning process.

The process of creating a strategic plan is a great touch point with the stakeholders within the organization. This is a great time to develop, cultivate, and steward relationships with individuals who are already advocates of your mission. Through their involvement in the strategic planning process, you are reinforcing the idea that they are valued members of your community. Plus, you are gathering different viewpoints that will provide you with more stakeholders who will take ownership of the new strategic plan.

The ultimate goal of your Strategic Plan is to advance your entire organization in the most meaningful ways. This plan should energize and motivate your staff, volunteers, and donors to further advance the mission of your nonprofit. When you engage your entire institution in the strategic planning process, you don’t have to worry about opportunities being missed or the formation of silos within the organization.

Sadly, you will have some individuals who will be reluctant for your organization to engage in a strategic planning process. There are two possible reasons for this resistance. The first possibility is that they are afraid that the time invested in the planning process will not result in implementation and that time was wasted in developing the plan. The second reason is that they are fearful of the change that will personally affect them. It is up to institutional leaders to alleviate these fears and continuously affirm that the best attributes of the organization will still be a part of the culture moving forward.

By the end of your strategic planning process, you should have identified:

  • Values & Mission
  • Vision & Goals
  • Strategies & Tactics

Once you have developed your organization’s Strategic Plan, you will be able to move forward in creating a Master Facilities Plan, a Comprehensive Program Plan, and your Case for Support for a fundraising campaign. This thoughtful and engaging planning will have been your first touch point for your fundraising campaign.

For questions or assistance in engaging in your Strategic Planning process, feel free to contact me.

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