Planning Fundraising Campaigns for the New Year

Everyone has heard the old adage “the early bird gets the worm!” Well, fundraising organizations can definitely learn a thing or two by making this their new motto.

A carefully thought out plan is everything when it comes to raising money for charity. The timing of the fundraiser and the organization with the clearest goals will always make the best impression. I don't know about you, but if I was giving away my money, I would give it to the organization with the best laid out plan—and the organization prepared to use it wisely.

But it's easier said than done when planning a whole year of fundraising efforts in advance. However, if you have ever done any work or read about the successes of large corporations in the newspaper it always comes down to terms like “strategic initiatives” and “quarterly business plans”.

So being that your organization likely plans to pitch many of the large and successful corporations in your region for charity donations—you will want to go in prepared and speaking their language.

Setting Reasonable Goals and Objectives for Fundraising

Set reasonable expectations – Are you a large, government subsidized charity or are you a small grassroots non-profit organization? Well, depending on which category you fall into, you will need to define your goals for the year based on reason and economy.

For instance, if you're a small, new and relatively unknown charity, you can't realistically expect to make a lot in your first year. Not only do you need charity monies to open shop, but you also need willing volunteers.

Your best plan would be to put money towards the marketing of your charity for this first year—or at least part of it. The following questions will help you understand of your overall funding needs.

  • How much money is in the budget now?
  • How many projects do we anticipate?
  • How much do we need to fund all of these campaigns?
  • How much is already dedicated to projects?
  • How much is available to additional fundraising efforts?
  • What do we need (facilities, products, etc.) for events?
  • How many volunteers will we need?
  • Have costs increased from previous years?
  • Who are our loyal donors? How much can we expect from them?
  • Are their funds available from grants or donations? How much?
  • How much money do we need in hand to commence with our first fundraising event?
  • How much time do we need for these events?

Plan out your Yearly Schedule

Think of it as your fundraising date book. If you want to stay organized and prepared in your every day personal life you would use one right? Well, this is no different. Plan out all major charity events and campaigns on a master schedule for the entire year.

Each charity event and door-to-door campaign will need a good chunk of lead time, sales drive time, delivery time, and thank you time to carry out successfully. You can block these off in blocks on your calendar and fill them in with details as they come. Make sure to always give yourself more time than is necessary—you will need it!

Make sure to Budget for Recovery Time

Remember that many of your charity helpers will be unpaid volunteers—which suffer from the largest percentage of what we like to call “volunteer burnout”. If your volunteers are stressed from the unrealistic pressure you are placing on them how do you think they are bound to react? They will quit volunteering for your charity.

Give them time to enjoy holidays, family, work and school obligations, social events, and etc. And do this by allowing a few weeks of recovery time in between each major fundraising event or campaign. You depend on your volunteers, so treat them with respect.

Define Charity Events Early On

The type of fundraising campaigns and events that you decide to commit to for the year will need to be defined. If you allow 6 weeks for each event with 2 weeks in between, you roughly have room for three good fundraising events for the year.

Three may not seem like a lot to you, but it's best to do three really successfully planned events than to try to squeeze in extra half-planned fundraisers into the year. Think of it as maximizing your time wisely.

Getting That Worm

If you plan to start your fundraising year in September when the school year starts, then you better get your annual charity schedule completed by the end of August.

Parents, teachers and students will be the most enthusiastic about volunteering and supporting your cause at the beginning of the new school year, so take advantage of this enthusiasm by scheduling your largest fundraiser first!

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