At Transform Consulting Group, we know how stressful and time consuming it can be to find funding sources that match an organization’s mission and vision that are also sustainable for future growth. We have found that taking the time to create a fund development plan and have some additional resources on-hand can greatly reduce the stress and confusion related to finding (and landing!) funding.
In this blog, we will share some of the tips and strategies we use with clients to formalize their fund development plans.
Start with the END in Mind
Before you choose which fundraising strategy to pursue, you need a clear vision of where you (and your Board) want your organization to be as a result of this funding ask. In order to know where you want to end up, start with these two steps:
Step 1: Review your Strategic Plan
Having a clear and updated strategic plan can be a very helpful resource in deciding which funding streams to pursue to support your organization’s goals.
Step 2: Identify Top Program and Financial Goals
- What are your program goals for additional funding?
- Do you want more professional development for staff? To implement a new program? Expand your service capacity? Grow into a new geographic market or target population? Improve your year-end campaign?
- What are your financial goals for your organization?
- Are you relying too heavily on grants and want to diversify your funding streams? Do you want to increase your cash reserve? Strengthen the financial stability of your organization? What are your overall goals for your organization for the next 2-5 years? Do you want to increase staff wages or benefits?
Having goals for your organization helps guide you to the type of funding to pursue.
How it’s Done
At Transform Consulting Group, we have divided the fund development process into three focus areas:
- Past: review past and current portfolio of funding to identify themes and potential opportunities.
- Present: review the current research, assess industry trends, and benchmark other successful organizations.
- Future: create and help implement a fund development plan based on your future goals.
Taking a look at past and current funding sources provides historical context into the types of funding partnerships, including opportunities for growth. During this funding analysis, it’s important to review the following:
- Funders over the past 5-10 years – what they funded, the amount funded, and the relationship with the organization.
- Prospect list – which groups or individuals did not agree to funding your organization and reviewing why.
- Financial statements – identify the current revenue sources by funding category and pros/cons of each to determine growth area(s) needed.
It is essential to take some time to do an environmental scan of current research and new trends that can support your funding requests. Below we outline the flow of research:
- Research current trends in the industry that provide important context for the need for your organization.
- Benchmark other similar organizations for funding strategies and opportunities that you could possibly replicate.
- Identify the need for targeted funding strategies and sources based on your demographics and supporting research.
Create a Fund Development Plan
You made it! You have done your reflections and outlined where you want to end up. Now it’s time to put a plan in place.
Here are the three pieces included in a fund development plan:
- Create: You have done the work to get to this point, so now is when you put it on paper. Using the goals identified in your reflection and the findings from your research, outline prospective funding opportunities, target numbers, strategies, timeline, and responsibilities.
- Develop: Now that you have your plan outlined, you need to develop your funding tools (case for support, donor letters, funding campaigns, sponsorship packages, grant proposals, etc.).
- Implement: It is a reward getting to this point! Whether this entails applying for grants, making the ask for shared services, or launching an awareness campaign, you are now ready to move forward!
Creating a fund development plan takes time and energy, but it truly pays off in the end. Being knowledgeable about your organization’s current state and future goals, the latest trends and community needs, and the appropriate funding sources to pursue will greatly increase your chances of being funded and the financial health of your organization.