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6 steps to help you create a fundraising plan

Posted February 16, 2022 by Virginia Davidson

Help to create a fundraising plan

Does your organization need to create a fundraising plan?

A fundraising plan helps you prioritize your work and guides your way to fundraising success. Without one, you’ll have a hard time effectively focusing your time and energy to best serve your organization. And you’ll probably feel more stressed than you need to. But creating a fundraising plan from scratch can seem so daunting that it may prevent you from doing it. If you don’t currently have a fundraising plan and you’re overwhelmed at the thought of creating one, here’s a 6-step exercise you can use to get started:

6 steps to help you create a fundraising plan

Step 1. Make a list

Make a list of all your development efforts from the past twelve months. These might include your year-end appeal, grants, earned income, and events.

Step 2. Review your past results

Refer to your organization’s financial statements to see how much was raised by each fundraising activity. Also make note of how much each activity cost. If you’re not familiar with reading financial statements, don’t worry—our guide to reading nonprofit financial statements will help you make sense of them.

Step 3. Plan ahead

Looking ahead, list all the development activities you have planned for the next twelve months.

Step 4. Set a monetary goal

For each item, add its fundraising goal.

Step 5. Consider the costs and benefits

    • How much will it cost to reach each goal?
    • Will this activity help you retain existing donors? If so, how?
    • Will it help you attract new donors? If so, how?

Step 6. Set realistic goals.

For any activities that are repeats from last year, compare your current goal to the amount that was raised last year and ask yourself:

      • Is this current goal realistic?
      • If our goal is more than what we raised last year, what steps will we take to bring in more money?

Still overwhelmed about creating a fundraising plan?

If you’ve read through this exercise and you still feel overwhelmed, try this instead: Rather than completing steps 3 through 6 for the next twelve months, do them for the next three months, or the just month ahead. Pick a manageable chunk of time and start with that.

And don’t forget that making a plan doesn’t mean you’re committed to its every detail. There’s always room to modify your plan to accommodate changes. The key is that having a plan in place gives you a point of reference to guide your work. Without one, you’re making things up as you go, which isn’t ideal for your organization’s needs or for your own peace of mind.


By completing the exercise above, you’ll have concrete information at your fingertips and be well on your way to creating a fundraising plan for your organization.

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