By Joe Garecht who has been involved in professional fundraising for over a decade. During that time, he’s worked with organizations large and small, helping them design profitable fundraising plans, implement new fundraising strategies, and super-charge their development efforts. Follow him on Twitter and at www.fundriasingauthority.com
Does your school have a strong, written fundraising plan? If you’re like most K-12 schools I know, the answer is, “no.”
Sure, most private schools understand the importance of development – the need to raise money to offer scholarships and new programs, maintain academic excellence, and complete capital projects – but most don’t understand just how important a written fundraising plan is to their overall development success. In my experience, having a well-planned, written fundraising plan can make the difference between thriving and simply surviving for most schools.
There are three primary reasons why every school – including yours – needs a strong, written fundraising plan:
1. Fundraising Plans Allow You to See the Whole Picture
In the everyday craziness and stress of school fundraising, it can be hard to get a handle on your overall fundraising strategy. You need to raise money from parents and alumni, and you know that you hold an annual fundraising event and send out an annual appeal letter… but how do these items tie together to help you reach your overall development goals?
A written fundraising plan for your school should help you see the big picture. It should outline your donor funnel, including where you find new prospects, how you cultivate them, your strategies for making asks, and your plan to steward, retain, and upgrade your current donors. In short, your plan should provide the strategic framework for all of the mailings, newsletters, events and other fundraising tactics you use on a day to day basis. This, in turn, will help your school raise more money by making sure that your strategy is sound and cohesive.
2. Fundraising Plans Ensure that Everyone is on the Same Page
I can’t tell you how many times I have come into a school fundraising situation where the development director had one set of priorities, the head of school had another set of priorities, and the board of trustees had a third. In situations like this, confusion and frustration reign.
Written fundraising plans help to make sure that everyone – including the administration, board and fundraising staff – are on the same page and working towards the same goals. This helps schools raise more money by keeping the entire team working together, helping each other, and supporting each other’s development activities.
3. Fundraising Plans Provide Much Needed Accountability
Great fundraising plans always include deadlines and responsibilities. Deadlines set dates for the completion of goals, and responsibilities detail who is going to accomplish each of the steps and meet each of the deadlines. Without detailed deadlines and responsibilities, fundraising plans are just wishful thinking.
A written fundraising plan which includes deadlines and responsibilities will provide accountability for your development program. By outlining which steps are going to be taken by the development staff, board members, administration, consultants, and various parent and alumni groups, fundraising plans help schools stay on track with their fundraising efforts and identify which areas need more assistance and support.
Every school, no matter how small or large, needs a strong, written fundraising plan to raise the money they need to thrive in this competitive development environment.
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