Why You Need a Fundraising Plan

Feb 18, 2021

By Cathy Mann, MA, CFRE

The pandemic has kicked 
your butt. 

It’s ok to admit it.  A lot of us feel that way. 

But despite how you feel, you still have to raise money for your important mission. And sometimes it feels overwhelming.  

Today I want to talk to you about your fundraising plan 

Foundation and government grants, special events, direct mail, corporate giving, planned giving, volunteers, your data…the list goes on.  

So how do you bring everything together? 

You plan. 

So let me walk you through the importance of planning and what it can do for you. 

1. Developing a good plan:

Sitting down to develop a good plan can be quite an undertaking. Planning takes time. And thoughtfulness. And perseverance. And you need to have different strengths:  

You need to be an investigator 

You need to be detailed oriented

You need to see the big picture

You need to be strategic

You need to be able to implement tactics  

Fundraising is complex and has so many moving parts to it that NO ONE person can master all of the disciplines that fall under its umbrella.   

All the more reason to plan.  

2. The beauty of a fundraising plan. 

So it’s laid out – what do you do then? You begin to identify the gaps that you and your organization have so you can fill them. What does that look like? Well, you can outsource a few things; take a course to fill in your skills gaps; make the case to youorganization’s leadership for more investment; drop an initiative because it’s not right for your organization… 

And of course, your kick-butt fundraising plan will also align with an aspirational budget that outlines exactly how you’re going to raise the money you need to support your important mission. 

3. How do I know what’s right (and wrong) for my organization?  

I once had a prospective client say to me: I don’t like planning. And yes, asked for help with fundraising. I suggested using my Enabling Ecology framework, to help her do the following:  

  • deconstruct what she was currently doing that was working well 
  • what needed to be improved upon 
  • what she maybe could stop doing 

Once we did that analysis, I could help develop a plan that was right for her organization with the right mix of strategies and infrastructure and exercises to intentionally develop the culture of philanthropy. Now, it would also have to fit with the organization’s values so once the plan is done, you layer it over those values to ensure consistency and alignment.  

Because whether you know it or not, that’s what a good plan helps you do. You may not be conscious of all of those steps, but that’s essentially what you’re doing, if you use the Enabling Ecology framework.

4. But I don’t need a plan. So tell me: why bother?  

The plan is in my head. Or my budget is my proxy for my plan. I know what I have to do based on the line items in my budget. Or I have a sense of what and what doesn’t work.  

Here’s why we plan: 

So that you focus your time on those things that are going to give you the biggest bank for your buck. So that you can balance infrastructure while still raising money.


And in the COVID times we’re living in, your plan becomes your guide 

  • You can easily see where you expect to raise money.  
  • You can see what you’re doing well. 
  • You can see where you’re struggling.

This allows you to adjust based on data. Not just on a gut feeling (although a good plan will also allow you to be flexible to rely on your gut feelings, too.)  

5. The proof is in the pudding:  

Because a plan will give you the data and the back-up to share with well-intentioned members of senior leadership – staff or volunteers – when they suggest you do another special event to fill in that projected revenue gap.  

Because a plan is built on research.  

And that allows you to remind your board when they want you to solicit corporate gifts, that corporate gifts may not be right for your organization. Or another gala. Or bake sales.  

 That’s why we plan.  

If you're ready to build a fundraising plan that will help you raise money, stay on track and plan for the future, look no further:

Join me in March for a special webinar on the
5 Steps to Developing Your Fundraising Plan. 



Increase your chances of fundraising success

Get instant access to the free resource Fundraising's Enabling Ecology Approach and learn how to create the right environment for your fundraising program to thrive.