Crafting Your Annual Development Plan, Part 2

by | May 8, 2014

After considering the areas that make up a development plan, it’s time to flesh out the key components to that plan.

Key Components of an Annual Development Plan

A successful development plan will have the following key components in place:

  1. A snapshot of current development programs and gift information: You can’t tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. A current pulse, so to speak, on what’s happening right now in your organization in terms of program support and gifts is essential for helping you make future projections.
  2. Established fundraising goals for the upcoming year: Here’s where you elaborate on how you want your annual fund to run. Here’s where you focus on your approach to cultivating planned giving gifts. This component correlates strongly with the current state of affairs discussed in the previous point.
  3. Concrete objectives for supporting those goals: How are you going to increase your planned giving? How will you determine “success” for your annual fund? These objectives give you something to strive for in your efforts.
  4. Action plans (strategies) that articulate how you intend to meet your objectives: Here’s where you’ll map out your direct mail campaigns for the year. Here’s where you’ll shape the phonathon you plan to execute. Here’s where you’ll identify marketing/communications/public relations opportunities to correlate with your campaigns.
  5. Calendar, calendar, calendar: We can’t emphasize this one enough. Get dates, deadlines, and details on a wall calendar for everyone to see. Make sure you identify what will occur when and who’s responsible. Establish milestones for you and your staff members so that you can track your progress toward your goals.
  6. Evaluate and adjust: Determine how you’ll keep on top of your progress as you put your plans into action. Will you hold quarterly reviews to get a sense of what’s happening? Do you have ways to cope with deviations in your plans or the unexpected? How will you make adjustments?
  7. Take stock of the year that was: Don’t forget to build in some time at the end of the year to fully assess the year that was. What were some of your successes? What were some of your pitfalls? Brainstorming with multiple people gives you additional perspectives, so don’t do all the thinking alone.

It’s a big job, so know that you can’t (nor should you) try to tackle the plan alone. Why? Well, time is one factor, but that’s not the most important reason. It’s the insight you gain when you dialogue with your development staff, individuals from other departments, your CEO, your constituents, the businesses in your community, the people your organization actually serves … all of them have valuable and important insights to share. So, let them share!

Snapshot of a Sample Six-Month Development Plan


  • Prepare Annual Report
  • Evaluate results of June gala


  • Annual Report mailing
  • Organize public relations plan for Purple Heart, CFC donors campaigns
  • Mail letters for Purple Heart, CFC donors campaigns (direct mail #1)


  • Mailing/publicity for STEM event
  • Personal gift solicitation from board of directors (begin September/end November)
  • Purple Heart employee campaign


  • STEM event Follow-up with STEM event pledges
  • Personal giving campaign with major donors (begin October/end December)
  • Plan direct mailing #2


  • Evaluate results for STEM event Discuss gifts of “time, talent, and treasure” cultivation approach Organize holiday mailing/year-end appeal mailing materials and mailing list
  • Plan holiday open house (communications/marketing/public relations)
  • Evaluate previous advertising efforts for community education guide and plan 2015 campaign


  • Direct mailing #2 mail drop
  • Holiday open house
  • Advance solicitation for business sponsors for education guide
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