Do you have a Development Plan?

"People with goals succeed because they know where they're going." - Earl Nightingale

"People with goals succeed because they know where they're going." - Earl Nightingale

No successful organization, for-profit or nonprofit, balks at the idea of spending long hours hammering out a multi-year strategic plan.  Although the process can be painful, it gives leadership a chance to be heard.  Differences of opinion regarding the organization’s goals and direction that developed since the last planning session, get ironed out – one way or another.  Some organizations build a retreat around strategic planning; some hire a consultant; some do both.  Whatever the method, everyone comes away with a clear idea of where they are headed, and the organization is stronger as a result.

That is where the similarity between for-profits and nonprofits ends.  While a for-profit relies upon the sale of goods and services to provide the means for attaining its strategic goals, a nonprofit does not have that luxury.  But what good is a strategic plan, if you don’t know where the money will come from, to achieve it?  Enter the Development Plan.

Also known as the “Fund Development Plan”, each Development Plan is as unique as the nonprofit it represents.  Although there are no hard-and-fast templates, there are a few essentials that should be included:

  1. Define your Financial Goals for the organization. Take a look at your budget: how much do you need to keep things running and to continue offering services at their current level (Tier 1 Goal)? What additional monies would you need to advance to the next level, as specified in the strategic plan (hire additional personnel, replace aging computers, rent/purchase additional space to expand services)? Make that your Tier 2, or “Stretch” Goal.

  2. Now set your Development Goals, both objectives and strategies. How much of the Financial Goals do you need to raise through fundraising?  By looking at past records and taking current indicators into account, how much can you reasonably expect to raise from: event(s)? annual mailing(s)? grants? corporations? individual donors? Is there a gap between the total amount you feel that you can raise, and your Tier 1 or Tier 2 Goals?  If so, what will you do to fill it – add an event or mailing? more effectively steward your current donor pool?

  3. Next, determine the roles that your board members, staff, and volunteers will play in each of the development activities. Assign a financial goal and a time frame to each one. At Aurora Grants, we use a grid which lists all of the activities down the side and the different parties across the top.  Putting an “X” in the corresponding boxes helps to ensure a fair division of labor. (See below.)  A time line is also useful.

  4. Lastly, put a monitoring system in place. Decide which group will report to whom, and how often.

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As with any plan, the Development Plan is just the starting place on your journey.

Happy travels!  See you next month.

Richard Beeman