I've taught on the topic of fundraising planning many times over the years, and, of course, have my book out on the subject, but the question I had to ask myself in preparing for today was, "Has the current economic situation changed how we should approach the subject?"
The answer was simply, "No." Good planning is still good planning. The process I outline, and the tools I include, are valid in any economy. The plan that each of them creates for their agencies, of course, will be different today than it may have been a year ago, but the process is the same.
The most important thing was simply to take the time to plan, properly analyzing their funding mix, identifying gaps, establishing realistic goals, and working the plan.
Yesterday, while doing my final preparations for the conference, I came across this posting of a new study by Retriever Development Counsel with a few characteristics of nonprofits that are surviving the recession. Those characteristics include:
- Those nonprofits with diversified funding, good management, and "learning cultures" seem to be coping much better than others.
- Successful nonprofits appear to be putting more focus on development activities, particularly donor relations, including cultivation of major donors.
The plans were all different, and all unique to the organizations that made them. There's no right or wrong plan. The only mistake is failing to plan.
Maybe in a good economy you have the luxury of sitting back and "just letting the money roll in" without any design or thought to how it's going to happen. But today we don't have the time to take chances like that. The time spent planning will be paid back to you with security and sustainability.