It was one of those “Duh!” moments. We were talking about creating a fundraising plan, so the organization would stop lurching from one (not very well thought out) idea to another; each one more or less disappointing. The word “plan” seemed to trigger something—and suddenly Board members were deep into the “We could this,” and “We could do that,” frame of mind. Whoa! Stop, cease and desist. You could, of course. But let’s get’s a little more disciplined here. Let’s start, I suggested, with figuring out how much money we need to raise.
“You mean, like a target?” someone asked and all over the room, I could see lightbulbs flashing on. If we know how much we need to raise, we can better figure out how to raise those funds.
A target. There are lots of ways to reach that target—pick a number out of a hat; increase last year’s number by some percent. I like to be a little more thoughtful.
Start with your annual budget—how much money do you need to have in order to run your business as it is today.
Add to that any initiatives or things you really want to do in the next one to three years—and how much you need this year in order to accomplish or start that project.
From that (sub)total, subtract annual revenues excluding fundraising. By annual revenues, I mean those streams of income you can pretty well count on year after year. A rolling three-to-five year average is a good method of figuring.
The number you end up with there is how much you need to raise from charitable giving. But you are not finished yet.
Remember those averages? Do the same with fundraising—what can you depend on every year from your regular fundraising efforts. For some, that number will be zero or pretty close to. Never mind—lots of room for improvement.
The number you are left with, is the additional funds you need to raise. Your fundraising plan, then, would start with what you are already doing and add new techniques, more prospects, more hours spent in fundraising to reach this new goal.
Here's a simple chart you can use to figure out your fundraising goals.