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It's Time For Development Planning

3 min read
Jul 28, 2021 2:52:25 PM

Development Plan

Yes, it’s that time of year again. For most, summer means vacation, warm beachy days, water fun, and cookouts. Yet, this year is like no other. After 15 months of isolation, those of us that are vaccinated can cautiously enjoy traveling and gathering. Still for fundraisers, summer means planning—taking the lessons learned from the current year and adjusting our activities to comply with the “new way.” This past year was like no other with COVID-19, racial unrest, economic upheaval and working from home—in isolation. Our digital footprint has expanded significantly. There’s so much uncertainty, yet so much opportunity.

Shockingly, donors gave more. Philanthropy reigns. A recent report from AFP, reveals that Giving Increased Significantly in 2020, Even as Donor Retention Rates Shrink. Look for Giving USA’s report and the Charitable Giving in 2020 Key Takeaway Guide below. With this information, development plans are more important than ever.

Download Guide: Charitable Giving in 2020 Key Takeaways
Here is an outline of some considerations as you work through your plan:


A Development Plan offers a comprehensive strategy for raising sustainable charitable support to advance the nonprofit’s reach and fully utilize its ministry capacity. This plan sets forth the guiding principles, financial targets, potential fundable program components, development program adjustments, personnel and operational requirements and costs to meet the aggressive growth goals and strategic opportunities of nonprofits. It is imperative that the plan be regularly evaluated and updated periodically going forward.

Guiding Principles

In order to achieve excellence in performance that will best serve your nonprofit and honor God, establish a set of guiding principles. Here is a sample:

Pursue Excellence

Outline how the fundraising operation plans to advance the organization’s mission in a quality way while building trust with donors and volunteers. 

Grow Relationships

Describe specific action steps to enhance connections. Consider integrating social media and other online platforms to network and target your pool of potential major donors. 

Keep Commitments

Yes, being consistent, following through and being a consummate professional are essential to advancing donor conversations.

So, every goal, every hire, every program, every allocation of resource, every partner/potential partner contact must answer this question: What will best enable development to pursue excellence, grow relationships, and keep commitments?

Financial Targets

Visually chart out the previous three fiscal years specifying goal and amount actualized. Using graphs makes the numbers come to life. 

Clearly list the gift income goals for the last three years. 

Break down the charts according to constituent type and/or segmentation of database.

Here, specify the interrelatedness of the nonprofit’s mission, vision, and strategic plan.

Compare 990s and actuals results over the last few years to ensure your nonprofit is trending in the right direction. 

Actions Steps

Explore and discuss ways for significant growth of gift income and list the specific action steps. These ideas will help you start: 

  1. Define the role of the nonprofit’s leadership. Specify how fundraising will support these activities. Set expectations regarding the number of relationships they will manage and the anticipated quantitative results. 
  2. Involve your board. This will require buy-in and ownership of fundraising goals. Establish a board champion that will deliver the development message to their peers and hold them accountable. Establish a development/philanthropy committee. Board ownership is key to success and strategic implementation. 
  3. The development infrastructure holds the pieces together and provides a strong foundation. Having a strong database and research capability is essential.
  4. List specifically how your nonprofit fundraising efforts have changed since the pandemic and the nonprofit’s plan to leverage the hour and overcome any obstacles. 

Integrated Marketing Strategy

With heightened focus on digital communications and the virtual audience, now more than ever, development officers must leverage marketing capability to support fundraising. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important to defining success.

Individual Giving - With Individual Giving at 69% of total giving, most nonprofits must have a strong segmented individual giving plan:

- Major Gifts $goal

- Mid Level $goal

- Annual Fund $goal

- Planned (Legacy) Giving

- Renewal/Upgrade Rate

- New Donors

- Relationship-Based Donors (alumni, parents, staff) 

- Corporate 

- Foundation

- Organizations

Event Strategy (Virtual and onsite)

Many events, especially those of significant expense are becoming hybrid. That is, attendees can personally show up or engage virtually. 

Here are my final words of advice as  you create and/or rework your development plan:

- Make sure your development plans align with your performance expectations and goals.
- Embrace training from AFP and other fundraising entities.
- Hire a fundraising consultant if you are planning a campaign, have an expanded vision, or need fundraising coaching.
- Test your actions with God’s Word, the Bible.
- Pray that God would guide and bless your actions.
Download Guide: Charitable Giving in 2020 Key Takeaways

Need Help With Your Development Plan?
Get Connected with Total Advancement Solutions

Schedule a free consultation with one of Generis' Total Advancement Solutions Strategists to begin creating a sustainable and successful development plan
for your school or organization. 

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