Strategic Planning & Fundraising

Strategic Planning & Fundraising

We were all affected by Covid-19 in some way, as were our jobs. Some industries thrived. The nonprofit sector, as a whole, did not. Service needs skyrocketed while fundraising plummeted.

But we’re resilient and recovering, right? Part of short and long-term nonprofit recovery must include a solid strategic fundraising plan. Even if you had one pre-pandemic, it needs a refresh to meet post-pandemic demands.

So where do you go from here? Let us set you on the path to fundraising success with an updated Annual Strategic Planning roadmap. Ready?

Annual Strategic Fundraising Planning 

First things first: What exactly IS strategic planning? It’s a nuanced term, but it all comes down to one single word: Goals. The identification of goals, the implementation of those goals, and, finally, the evaluation of how close you came to meeting those goals. As a child, were you ever encouraged to set goals for yourself? Remember how great it felt to achieve a goal? And how it made you want to set additional, more challenging goals? Bring that spirit with you as you embark on your strategic planning journey! 

So the simple definition is this: It’s identifying key fundraising goals for your organization, then mapping out methods to reach those goals. 

Plan with Intention

Since the pandemic, your service offerings probably changed in some way. How will they continue to evolve? How can you position yourself best to meet the upcoming needs of the folks you serve? These are just a few of the many pivotal questions that will guide your strategic plan. And this is why this plan will look different as we navigate a post-pandemic world, even if the heart of what you do (and what motivates you and your team to do it) hasn’t changed.

Strategize with Data

Data is our North Star. It guides pretty much everything we do around here, whether it’s live event planning, virtual fundraising, or annual strategic fundraising planning. When the live events industry shut down mid-March of 2020, we quickly (in 38 hours!) pivoted to virtual events and fundraising galas. And they were wildly successful. We’ve been using data to refine and tweak virtual and hybrid event services from Day One. As we return to “normal,” we’re watching market trends closely. And what they’ve been telling us is no real surprise – the nonprofit industry has changed forever.

Hence, what worked in 2019 won’t be as effective in 2022 and beyond. If your org is executing an existing strategic planning campaign, it probably needs freshening up. But consider this a challenge. An opportunity to think BIG, since we’re facing big changes in the market! 

We are well-positioned to help forward-thinking nonprofits adapt to these changes. We have in-house experienced Strategic Planning experts who have served nonprofits globally, nationally and locally. No need to be intimidated with our seasoned planners by your side! We’ll help you refine and redesign the way you use your existing fundraising tools.

Covid-19 Impact

Still not convinced your current roadmap to fundraising success needs an update? Let the numbers prove it to you. Check out this 2020 survey, conducted by the Independent Sector and the Washington Council Ernst & Young, showing the impact Covid-19 had on the nonprofit sector:

83% of nonprofits reported fewer donations   

71% were forced to reduce service offerings

67% were forced to furlough workers

51% were forced to lay off workers 

53% reported fewer individual donors


The vast majority (92%) of nonprofits surveyed said that forgivable loans would be the quickest way for them to recover. We’ve got ideas for other recovery methods, as well! Let us take a good hard look at your current strategic fundraising plan, reimagine it for the new world and help you successfully implement it.

Review + Re-Assess Current Campaigns 

This is where the magic begins! It’s the “You Are Here” marker – the starting line of your strategic fundraising planning roadmap. We’ll start by assessing your annual fundraising campaigns. Then we’ll move on to semi-annual campaigns. You want – no, NEED – both. The most successful nonprofits are strategically positioned to meet the long-term needs of the communities they serve. How do they do this? By diversifying their fundraising streams. Best practice suggests none of your fundraising streams should comprise more than 25% of the total amount of money you raise. According to our data, event fundraising only accounts for approximately 8% of the total money nonprofits raise annually. See why it’s so important not to put all of your fundraising eggs in one basket?

Here are some examples of annual giving strategies. 

Giving Tuesday Campaigns

Since you’re in the fundraising industry, chances are you already conduct a Giving Tuesday campaign. Maybe you have been doing one for years. Maybe yours needs a refresher! Giving Tuesday campaigns look much different than they did pre-pandemic. We can help you focus a post-pandemic lens on them through our Strategic Planning process.

End-of-Year Campaigns

People are already feeling generous and grateful in Q4, so you don’t need to devote much time to your year-end giving campaign. JUST KIDDING! Don’t fall into this mindset. While it’s true, December IS the giving season, and many people ARE feeling generous, you can really capitalize on this generosity with an intentional strategically-planned end-of-year giving campaign. Maximize the magnanimity of the season! 

Here are some examples of semi-annual giving strategies.

Social Media Campaigns

Social Media is an incredibly valuable tool in fundraising. One of the most effective ways to harness its awesome power is through a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns involve individual supporters using their own personal social media pages to raise support, awareness and money for your cause. There are myriad ways to set them up: Crowdfunding, activities, social media “takeovers.” There is a P2P fundraising campaign that’s just right for your org. Let us help you decide which one.

Video Campaigns

Donors are visually-driven post-pandemic, so now is a great time to consider a fundraising campaign that relies on heartstring-tugging videos. Post powerful ones to your social pages, showing people how and why the work you’re doing matters. Consider a day- or week-long video campaign, focusing on the real people whose lives have changed for the better, thanks to the work your org is doing. Tell stories little by little, chapter by chapter. When done well, people will keep checking in to see how they end.

Monthly Giving Campaigns

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Maybe you already take part in a monthly giving campaign or two, yourself. You authorize the nonprofit to take money directly out of your account every month. No further steps needed, no confusion, no reminders, no problems!  

Planned Gifts (AKA deferred, estate, or legacy gifts)

Planned gifts are essentially future gifts. If your supporters want to remember your nonprofit in their will after they pass, it’s called a bequest. But a planned gift can be from someone living, as well. Annuity gifts are also planned gifts; it’s a fixed sum your donors give to your org every year. A more involved planned gift can take the form of a charitable trust, where an individual holds or invests property for a beneficiary – that beneficiary, of course, is your nonprofit.

Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs)

Donor-advised funds are a versatile way for supporters to donate when it works best for them; for example, after they receive their year-end bonuses. How it works: Donors make a contribution, receive a tax-write off, then start managing their fund (or appointing someone else to do that legwork). As the investment grows, the money is doled out to deserving orgs via grants.


Grants are a great way to diversify your fundraising portfolio. They are gifts you don’t have to pay back, unlike loans. NGO (non-government organization) grants are generally awarded through a trust or a foundation, in order to benefit your nonprofit.

Overall Strategy

Now that we’ve covered some of your options when it comes to raising money, let’s zoom out a bit and take a look at some things to keep in mind as you craft your overall strategy.

Donor Cultivation 

What type of donors are you targeting? Is it for an event? A sponsorship? Are you reaching for the stars and planning for major gifts? Or more smaller donations, that add up over time? You must know your donors – and THEIR desires! It’s true in all aspects of fundraising, and when strategic planning, these are the questions that will help steer your ship. Some donors are so loyal, and have been supporting your org for so long, they can also be considered stakeholders. Their participation and input is invaluable to the health of your org, so don’t be shy about asking them what they think! Candid feedback makes us all better.   

Donor Gratitude Campaigns

A thank-you note for ANYTHING is common courtesy. When it comes to your donors, it runs deeper than courtesy. There are some pretty remarkable statistics showing how donors are much more likely to give again, and give more next time, if you thank them in a thoughtful and timely manner. Gratitude begets giving! Here are some ideas on showing your gratitude in creative ways – Thoughtful Thank Yous.

Strategic SWOT

Partner with us for Strategic Planning and we’ll conduct an in-depth and technical SWOT analysis. SWOT = strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. Simply put, we’ll shine a spotlight on what’s working for you and identify and eliminate what is NOT serving your org.


Key performance indicators help us guide you to fundraising success. For example, are you devoting too many hours towards a revenue stream that doesn’t net you much money? Say you have a bunch of staffers spending hours producing and executing a low-buy-in raffle that earns your nonprofit less than a thousand dollars. You might want that collective energy focused on a more lucrative revenue stream or activity. We use KPIs to keep you and your team focused on your long-term goals and keep everyone on the same page.

All nonprofits face the same problem: An abundance of need and not enough resources to meet those needs. Time to take a strategic planning trip! Are you coming along for the ride? Let’s get to the starting line! We offer roadmaps for trips both long and short. Reach out so we can begin our strategic planning trip together.