Development Plans

These are the steps we would take to assess your development activities with the goal of creating a  feasible development plan for your organization.

Get to know your organization and its mission

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Review your current strategic plan
  3. Why do you do the work you do?
  4. How long have you been an organization?
  5. How does leadership connect with the staff and community?
  6. Who will be involved in the fundraising activities?
    1. Who has been involved in the past?
    2. Are you staffed correctly to carry out activities?
    3. How is your volunteer program?

Understand the culture of philanthropy in your community?

  1. Is participation most important? Or amount given?
  2. Is your community open about their fundraising practices?
  3. Have you over asked in the past? Under asked?
  4. How do you ask? How do people want to be ask?
  5. What strategies have worked? What hasn’t?

Look at past giving

  1. What generates the largest portion of your revenue?
  2. Which sources are most reliable?
  3. Where is the greatest potential for growth?
  4. Which areas are not producing and why?
  5. Where can you involve more board members and volunteers?
  6. If you had a larger budget for fundraising, which areas would you invest in more
  7. How much raised in the past five years? What funds? Who gave? Who isn’t giving
  8. Who are your top donors?
  9. How does your board give?

Examine your strengths and weaknesses

  1. What do you as an organization do well?
  2. What do constituents love about your organization?
  3. What is most compelling about your organization
  4. What can your organization do better?
  5. What feedback have you received that is negative?

Research your peers

  1. What types of strategies are peer organizations using for fundraising?
  2. Who is funding them?
  3. How much are they raising?
  4. Are they successful? If so, why? If not, why?

Brainstorm your priorities for the next three years (Looking ahead helps your organization transition into the next year without any big surprises.)

  1. What’s happening in your organization beyond the normal annual activities? Retirements? Campaigns? Change of leadership? How might these activities impact your fundraising activities?
  2. What is most important to accomplish over the next two years? Increased operating support? Better donor recognition? Stewardship activities improved? A special campaign?
  3. What has been laid out in your strategic plan that will be supported by development.

Set your goals

  1. Now that you have this background information, you can set some goals. You want to think about two kinds of goals for your fundraising plans – strategic goals and financial goals.
    1. Strategic goals are non-monetary goals related to your development program. This could be things like greater board participation, more alumni events, better donor recognition, increased income from Foundation X etc.
    2. Financial goals – How much do you hope to raise and from where?

Create strategies for each funding source

  1. With goals in mind and and a full understanding of your organization’s past and present fundraising landscape, create specific strategies for the raising money your organization needs (diversity is key!)
  2. Each fundraising source (ie. Individual Giving, Foundation Support, Corporate, Events, Planned Giving etc…) will be broken out and a specific plan will be developed to reach your goal. This will include the budget, timeline, who is doing the work, how are asks being made, who are you asking, stewardship plans, recognition plans.
    1. When you think about what fundraising activities to use, think about it from three perspectives – getting new funders, renewing current supporters, and getting current donors to increase their support.

Put it all together

  1. Create a chart that shows what fundraising activities you are doing, how much you intend to raise, from whom, when, who will do what, and how much it will cost (make sure you coordinate the timing of activities with other departments – ie. programming, marketing, admissions)


  1. Prepare benchmarks to evaluate how your plan is working both during and after its completion.