Developing a fundraising plan post-pandemic
The past 18 months has wreaked havoc on most charities’ fundraising plans, and many charities were struggling to maintain stability even before this. Small charity fundraisers have told us they feel like they have been in firefighting mode for the last 18 months. Now is the time to take a step back, review and develop your fundraising plans for the future. Here are our tips:
1. Start by reviewing what has happened over the last 18 months. What worked well for you? What didn’t work – and what could you learn from that, to inform your future fundraising plans? Also think about how your organisation adapted and served its community, and how you can share that with your supporters. A SWOT analysis, which looks at your fundraising strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can help you to reflect and analyse both internal and external factors that can help or hinder your fundraising.
2. Look outside too. What have other charities done, what interesting trends or innovations can you adapt for your own organisation? One of our members attended an FSI networking event a few years ago where she heard a speaker from Meningitis Now talking about their virtual fundraising events – something very new at the time! She came back to her charity excited about testing this with their supporters – so when lockdown came along two years later they already had a tried and tested product that continued to provide a vital source of income when all other events were on hold. Be open to new ideas and learning from others.
3. Think about your donor audiences and motivation. Why have people supported you? Is it because they feel gratitude for the work you are doing, or have a strong affinity to the cause - perhaps they or someone they love has been affected by the issue you address? It might be about having fun, being part of something bigger or simply the ‘feel good factor’ they get from supporting you. Really tap into their motivations in your fundraising communications and make sure you are speaking to who they are and what they want to hear.
4. Get your plan written down. Recent analysis from Dr Adrian Sargeant and Dr Kathryn Carpenter has shown that has shown that organisations with a written fundraising plan tend to outperform organisations without one, and those with a plan were more confident about their situation post-Covid. Plans help you to prioritise your efforts, provide accountability and tracking, and help foster team spirit and achievement.
5. In your plan, set SMART goals and identify your key tactics and actions to achieve these. This will give confidence that there is an achievable plan in place, you can see the intermediate and achievable steps, and it especially helps trustees to buy in to investing in fundraising. As part of this, you’ll need to think really hard about the resources you need in order to reach targets – especially if you are doing something new.
6. Be creative in how you resource the gap. Can you free up capacity from other tasks by getting additional volunteer support, help from colleagues or trustees, or perhaps accessing external expertise through consultants.
7. Use it, don’t lose it. There will inevitably be lots of ‘no’s along your fundraising journey. However, it’s very rarely a completely wasted effort. Keep a regular progress check on how you’re doing against target (we suggest monthly), so you’re never surprised at the end of the year that a whole income stream hasn’t worked out. Keep refining and learning from failure, and know when to redirect your energy and resources to another area that is perhaps performing better.
8. Finally, don’t panic! One small charity fundraiser shared with us her initial struggles with uncertainty around fundraising in the year ahead, particularly around what measures would be in place over the summer and when they should start to introduce face to face events. Her lightbulb moment was when she realised that, much like in lockdown, we are in unchartered territory. It’s quite liberating to know that we are all operating with uncertainty – in her words “the only failure would be freezing in the headlights and not doing anything at all!”
Find out more about how approaching fundraising with a strategy can make all the difference at FSI training courses and webinars, or bring us in to work with you to develop your fundraising plans through our consultancy support including our new package with partners at Nova Fundraising