7 Steps For Finding Your Development Plan

It’s Friday night and you’re looking to make a nice week-ending dinner for a loved one. You have your recipe and plans, but you first need to hunt through the refrigerator and cabinet — jotting down what you already have on hand and what you need to run out to the supermarket to get.

    Creating a fund development plan requires similar work. Organization leaders need to learn and understand what resources they have on hand and what they need. During the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, La., Jennifer Pelton, director of development for Public Justice Center, and Linda Beeman, president of Aurora Grants & Consulting, presented on the topic during their session “You’re Still Only As Good As Your Plan (And Whether You Use It).” Steps include:

  • What vehicles or methods or strategies are on hand to attract funds? Consider vehicles that have worked in the past, methods that are feasible given staff capacity, and potential new donor constituencies. Explore a gift-acceptance policy that would lay out appropriate and inappropriate types of gifts to donors;
  • How can the organization bolster initial efforts? This might include using media partners to demonstrate expertise in an area by contributing an op-ed piece, sharing a news article on a relevant topic, or accepting an invitation to speak on a particular topic;
  • How do these ideas relate to a specific timeline? This might be influenced by the fiscal year and business cycle; blocked-in time constraints such as legislative sessions, parental leave, and holidays; or the nature of the internal or external opportunity;
  • What can be done to mark progress? Is a new venture going to be measured by cumulative, year-end impact, or more incrementally? Consider opportunities to correct course midway through if plans go awry;
  • Who’s doing what? There needs to be clarity in terms who is expected to accomplish what and who is leading and making various decisions. Think about whether appropriate personnel resources are being allocated or if additional expertise, like that of a consultant, is necessary;
  • Is the donor data being relied on clean and current? Evaluate what you need to know about your donors in order for this next venture to be successful. That might include the ability to segment data, dive into demographics, or seek out additional information; and,
  • What other resources are needed? Look for resource gaps and ways to fill them. Plan out what sort of budget is available for this initiative and how success will be measured whether it be gross revenue, overhead costs, or another metric.