For many smaller charities, fundraising is a constant uphill battle often resulting in a ‘hand-to-mouth’ situation where funds are raised and spent without any strategic planning or forethought. Finding the time to pause and think strategically about the future can be a challenge, but it is essential for the sustainability of any organisation, and the sanity of those in charge.
If you’d like to be more strategic in your fundraising, but are not sure where to start, follow these steps to creating a simple fundraising strategy.
Step one: Create an overview of the previous year
What was the breakdown of your incoming funds last year? Where did the majority of your income come from? Create a list of all your sources of income and what proportion of your overall total this accounted for. This will begin to give you an idea of where you do very well, where you could do better and whether you are too reliant on one particular source of income.
Step two: Do a SWOT analysis
What are your organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? A good way to think of this is:
Strengths – GO (e.g. we have a very passionate and engaged Board of Trustees)
Weaknesses – INVEST (e.g. we don’t have any full time staff)
Opportunities – EXPLORE (e.g. we know someone who may be a great Trustee/volunteer)
Threats – MINIMISE (e.g. bad news in the press about charities, how can we avoid this threat?)
Be honest with yourself and try to include more than one person from the organisation when conducting a SWOT analysis.
Step three: Identify organisational and fundraising aims and objectives
What are your organisations aims and priorities for the year ahead? Do you have plans to grow your projects or employ a member of staff? Choose 5-10 SMART objectives that will help to guide your activities over the year.
For example, an organisational objective could be:
‘To grow [organisations name] income to a sustainable level of £150,000 to ensure that we have the resources required to fund our programmes.’
A fundraising objective could be:
‘Secure 10 places in the London Marathon and raise £10,000 from the event’
Step four: Create your budget
How much does it cost to run your organisation? How much does each project cost, how much is project cost and how much are overheads? You need to know this information if you are going to plan your fundraising activity for the year.
Many smaller charities find themselves trapped in the cycle of spending the money as and when it comes in, never knowing how much will be spent from month to month, or year to year. To be sustainable, organisations must budget for the year ahead, and fundraise accordingly. Work out how much each project costs, establish if any funds already exist to fund the project, and work out what is left over for you to fundraise.
Step five: Create your strategy
Now you know how much you need to raise to achieve your objectives, you need to establish how you will raise this money. For each income stream (i.e. individuals, major donors, trusts and foundations etc.) give yourself a target income based on the previous year’s performance and your budget. Then list a few actionable tasks next to each income stream. For example:
Income stream Target income How will we achieve this?
Individuals £5,000 Increase existing direct debits by writing to all previous volunteers
Step six: Timeline and budget
Which fundraising activities are you planning to undertake throughout the year to achieve your income target? What is the timeframe for these? When do you expect the income generated by these activities to come in? What are the staffing needs for these activities and how much do you need to invest in your fundraising activities over the year?
If you have any questions about this topic or would like support in creating a fundraising strategy, feel free to get in touch for a chat.