Use financial statements to create a stronger fundraising plan

Posted July 9, 2020 by Virginia Davidson

Financial statements to create fundraising plan

Your organization’s financial statements offer a wealth of information that you can use to create a well-crafted and realistic fundraising plan. A fundraising plan is your guide to how much money you need to raise, why you need to raise it, and how you’ll raise it. You don’t have to pull your plan out of thin air, though.

Review your nonprofits’ financial statements

Take a look at your organization’s statement of activities (otherwise known as an income statement) from the past few years. When you look at a statement of activities, you’ll see support (grants and contributions), revenue (fee for service, event income, merchandise sales), and expenses. The statement of activities includes the actual amount as well as the amount budgeted, so you can see variances.

Over the past few years, do you see any patterns when you examine the statement of activities? Does one source of funding consistently fall short of the budgeted amount? Is there an event or other fundraising effort that requires a great deal of time but doesn’t bring in much money?

Identify new fundraising opportunities based on your financial statements

Using your depth of knowledge about your organization’s fundraising operations and what you see in your organization’s financial statements, are there changes you want to implement in your next fundraising plan? You might see that your organization is overly reliant on a single revenue stream. Rather than depend on one large grant funder, it may be time to start seeking broader sources of grant funding. You can incorporate that into your fundraising plan. Perhaps it makes sense to conduct fewer events and invest more time into your year-end appeal. Your fundraising plan should reflect those changes in priorities.


Examining your development operations in the context of your organization’s financial statements can help you create and revise a fundraising plan that makes the best use of your time and energy. Use it as your guide to ensure there are enough sources of income to support your organization’s needs.

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