30 Jul Dynamic Fundraising
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
High summer is generally regarded as a good time for taking stock. How are we doing related to our annual goals? Are we on track to finish the year successfully? If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, will we get there?
Because plans are intentionally dynamic. If they are not getting you where you want to go, they need to be changed.
The same goes for Strategic Plans. They shouldn’t live on a shelf. They should be used. Measured. Re-examined periodically. Adjusted. They should be dynamic.
When you think about it, strategy and plan are two different things.
Strategy is direction – as in like a compass. We’re going that way, as opposed to this way. Consequently, strategy shouldn’t change very often, unless the world as we know it changes in some fundamental way. (I’ve spoken with several land trust leaders in areas hit by hurricanes. Pursuing conservation easement acquisition at such times would have been folly – at least for several years, if not a decade.)
Plans are decisions to get a certain distance in the chosen strategic direction within a certain time frame – a month, a year, three years, five years, or even twenty years. I like to think about such plans as being nested. So, an annual plan might be a one-year slice of a Strategic Plan and a workplan might be a one-month slice of an annual plan.
Each year, we take a look at how we are doing relative to our five-year goals and use that information to carve out another set of one-year goals – our Annual Plan for that year.
And in high summer, we take a look at how we are doing relative to our Annual Plan goals and use that information to carve out objectives for the next six months.
And that brings me to Strategic Development Plans.
To be most organizationally helpful, Strategic Plans should include a five-year enabling budget. This last is a difficult but important final step. Budgets inform the various players what the expectations will be for revenue generation, including fundraising. Some revenue strategies take several years to develop (capital campaigns, for example), and both staff and board need time to build appropriate capacity.
In an ideal sense, a fundraiser’s job is to deliver a “net return” to the programs so that the priorities identified in the Strategic Plan can be accomplished. Without knowing what those strategic priorities will actually cost, organizational fundraising has no context. Fundraising work becomes just exercise, like lifting weights or running on a treadmill.
On the other hand, when the strategic goals are clearly and commonly understood, and they are clearly connected to the program, fundraising actually gets easier.
The five-year planning budget essentially becomes a mission statement for fundraising – for a Strategic Development Plan. Deliver this net return. The rest works the same way – strategy describes the compass direction in a long-term sense. Planning describes how far we intend to get within a specific time frame.
And Strategic Development Plans should include five-year enabling budgets, too. Far too many fundraising failures are related to inadequate budgeting – not providing enough money to get it done.
So – how much money will your land trust need in capital funds (to be raised just once) in the next five years? And how much money will your land trust need in operating capacity (to be raised every year) beginning in year five?
Now take stock. How are we doing related to our five-year goals? Are we on track to finish successfully? Are we delivering enough “net return”? If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, will we get there?
And if your current fundraising plans are not going to get you where you want to go, they need to be changed. Measured. Re-examined. Adjusted. They should be dynamic.
Cheers, and Have a great week.
Photo by Ian Livesey, courtesy www.stocksnap.io