Crafting Your Annual Development Plan, Part 1

by | Apr 28, 2014

First, notice that the title of this blog post isn’t “Crafting Your Annual Fundraising Plan.”

Why? Because when you’re fundraising for a campaign or project, there’s a “buy and sell” mentality that goes along with it. Your donors give you funds and you recognize their contribution by giving them a plaque, some recognition, a charitable contributions statement for their taxes, etc.

But this post focuses on something entirely different – an annual plan for development, that special kind of giving where nothing is expected in return.

It’s giving that stems from a strong belief in the goals, the mission, and the vision for the future of the organization. It’s philanthropy as its best, where donors live the life of a true steward.

As the new fiscal year approaches, many development professionals are creating their plans for the next year, strategizing to create strong interpersonal relationships that are cultivated through annual funds, capital campaigns, endowment giving, planned gifts, memorial giving and special project funding.

The most successful development offices have an operational plan that covers their activities for the entire year. Not only does this give each member of your staff a roadmap to the year ahead, but it also gives you a benchmark to measure your efforts from year to year. And you shouldn’t just wait until the end of the year to come up with your development plan for next year. Throughout your current year, you should be always thinking ahead to your goals and ambitions for next year.

Key Categories for Annual Development Planning

Your development plan should consist of the following developmental areas. Tailor this list to the size of your organization and the specific needs you have right now:

  • Business sponsorships
  • Community involvement campaigns
  • Database and records management
  • Development communications/marketing/public relations efforts
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Donor retention
  • Gift levels
  • Grant acquisition
  • Individual giving
  • Major gifts cultivation
  • One-on-one visits
  • Online giving
  • Planned gifts
  • Special event/programming
  • Volunteer involvement and recruitment

For each area, you’ll want to identify goals, quantitative fundraising objectives, action plans, and a master calendar for tracking what happens when and by whom.

Need to Know More?

In the next part, we’ll talk a bit about the key components of successful development plans, but if you’re looking for more details about the developmental areas mentioned above, the following organizations are useful sources for additional information:

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