This is the second half of my 2 part series on Creating Your Development Action Plan. In Part 1 we covered why you need a plan and how you should use it. In Part 2 we’ll cover the key elements you should have in the plan and what those should include. I’ve also included some templates you can download to use in building your own plan.
In this section you’ll describe in detail what happened in the previous year. Specifically, you’ll want to highlight what worked well, what your challenges were, your total income, costs and net income (both top line and by channel).
This historical analysis then becomes a significant part of the basis for your forward-looking recommendations. Providing historical data gives you, your executive team and board a clear understanding of what happened in the past, as contextual support for your future recommendations. It (hopefully) prevents organizations from constructing lofty, unreachable goals with no basis in recent reality.
Here in the goals section you’ll want to provide a high-level narrative on your goals for the coming year. These goals should be specific, measurable and realistic. They should also reflect your historical achievements as detailed in the previous section. If your goals deviate significantly from your historical accomplishments, you’ll want to specify why the deviation exists as well as the strategies and tactics you’ll be using to make such drastic changes.
Throughout your plan, you’ll want to include documentation of responsibilities for each goal, program, campaign, etc. This gives everyone an understanding of expectations and removes any confusion over who should be doing what.
In this section you need to reinforce your core fundraising offers and/or case(s) for support. Chances are this will be consistent from year to year, unless you are entering into a new campaign (either project or capital) which requires new or updated themes and messages.
This is also where you will indicate any planned offer/message testing you’ll be doing in the coming year.
Here in the audience section you’ll want to list out each of your unique audiences and provide brief narrative of your plans for acquiring, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding them. This should include documenting your channel-specific plans to indicate the specific communication channels that will be used with each audience segment.
Potential Audience Segments
Low-End Donors ($0.01 – $9.99)
Regular Donors ($10 – $499.99)
Middle Donors ($500 – $9,999.99)
Major Donors ($10,000+)
Planned Gift Donors
Gift In Kind (GIK) Donors
In this section you should include a comprehensive listing of all of your fundraising channels and programs. For each individual program, restate top line results from the previous year followed by your projections for the current year.
Your channel-specific projections should include the total number of projected initiatives (i.e., “We plan to send 12 direct mail appeals, one each per month for the 2012 CY”, etc.), as well as estimated total quantities, income, cost and net income by channel.
In the cost/income projection section you’ll detail by channel/program what you expect to spend and raise throughout the year. There are two ways you can do this. You can either provide a top line projection by program and attach a detailed set of month-to-month projections, or you can simply incorporate the full month-to-month projections into the development plan.
In the calendar section you want to provide an overview of when you’ll be deploying each channel/program throughout the year. Depending on your specific situation, you might have a fiscal year calendar, a calendar year calendar, or both. I like to use an Integrated Annual Calendar that shows all programs in one place. If you wanted to, you could even expand this to show each program by audience.
In the final section of your plan you’ll want to include a schedule of when you’ll review progress to goal throughout the year. This can be as simple as noting that you’ll review program-specific results on a monthly basis and report to the board or executive committee each quarter. Or you can get as granular as you’d like in this section, detailing when you’ll analyze performance for every specific initiative or audience throughout the year.
Here are a few sample plans to help you as you work to build your own plan: