Create a Development Plan to Guide your Fundraising Efforts

Create a Development Plan to Guide your Fundraising Efforts

May 10, 2018 by Lee A. Ernst

Do you have an updated development plan and do you use it? Creating a comprehensive development plan can guide your organization’s fundraising efforts and position you for future fundraising success. The plan can help you prioritize your fundraising activities for both short- and long-term growth, identify key constituent groups, and provide metrics and benchmarks by which to measure and evaluate success.How to Create a Development Plan

While we all know the importance of planning, we often end up putting it off as it takes time and can feel like a distraction from the urgency of day-to-day operations.

A development plan will actually save you time in the long run and help ensure success. And, just as important as creating a plan, is making sure you build in time to evaluate and update the plan on an ongoing basis.

Below are the key components that my JGA colleagues and I recommend for a strong development plan.



Include a brief and clearly written overview of the current status of development at your organization. Why are you creating a development plan? What special opportunities or challenges is your organization facing? 


Fundraising Results and Goals

This section is intended to list current annual fundraising efforts and to provide analysis of your return on investment. Use a 3 to 5-year time frame to illustrate philanthropic trends. Ensure that you list all your philanthropic revenue sources (i.e. individuals, foundations, corporations etc.) and your fundraising goals per source. Be certain to include a list of the specific funds that need philanthropic support and align the philanthropic revenue sources for each.

Include the following components:

  • annual dollars raised
  • sources of philanthropic revenue
  • fundraising costs and analysis
  • fundraising goals


Fundraising Methodologies

A good development plan should include a breakdown of all constituents with corresponding fundraising methodologies and solicitation strategies for each. Map out the implementation strategies on a timeline, including dollar goals and persons responsible. It is often helpful to chart this information in a table for quick and easy reference. 

Include columns for:

  • Source
  • Dollar Goal
  • Fundraising Methodologies
  • Responsible Party(ies)
  • Date Due
  • Date Completed


Action Plan

Create a comprehensive calendar that lists all fundraising activities as well as other key organizational events. Strategically sequence events and solicitation activities. The action plan should support the fundraising methodologies and strategic initiatives outlined in previous sections of the plan.


Monitoring and Evaluating the Plan

How many times have you put together a lengthy report only to have it saved in a file you never open or a shelf that isn’t touched? A key part of creating a development plan is to build in time to review and monitor progress.

It is important for both development staff and the board to regularly review and evaluate the plan. The staff should have monthly and quarterly reviews of progress towards goals. In addition to the board monitoring and hearing updates on the progress of the plan, the development committee should have discussions and provide recommendations for areas needing attention.


Taking the time to outline a development plan for your organization not only positions you for ensured current growth, it also helps you identify opportunities to enhance your development efforts and measure success for the future.


Here are some additional tips to strengthen your development operations: