6 common mistakes that can wreck your fundraising plan

As we approach the new year, it’s a good time to think about your fundraising plan.

You have one, right?

As you think about your plan, here’s a helpful post on some of the common ways we torpedo our own plans, from Nonprofit Hub, at How NOT to Make a Fundraising Plan:

  1. Not having your plan in writing. You probably have most of a fundraising plan in your head already. It’s based on what you’ve done before. Here’s the thing: If your plan is only in your head, you don’t really have a plan. Put it in writing. Think it through. Know you have the resources to do it. You will have a much better year if you do this! I should mention that I’ve seen hundreds of annual fundraising plans, but I’ve never seen one that was followed exactly. That’s life — things change. And it’s okay. But you need to have a plan!
  2. Having unclear goals or no goals at all. You are a lot more likely to achieve something if you are aiming specifically to achieve it. Make measurable goals part of your plan.
  3. Making everything perfect. You don’t need to think through every possible contingency. That’s not possible. Just create a schedule and goals, and do your best to stick with them.
  4. Neglecting your donors. Put donors (not revenue) at the center of your plan. It’s all about starting, keeping, and growing relationships with real human beings.
  5. Not making time to plan. An hour spent planning will save you several hours of wheel-spinning later. Take the time to think ahead. It feels difficult, but it’s worth it.
  6. Taking on too much. Make sure your plan is achievable. Plan for reality — and stretch a bit — but don’t just call your ideal world a plan. It isn’t.

A thought on timing: Yeah, it’s a bit late to be talking about building your Calendar Year 2021 plan. Ideally, you should give yourself at least a week — better yet two weeks — to create your plan.

But a great plan can cover any 12 months — calendar year, fiscal year, or 12 months starting at a convenient time.

Just make sure you do it!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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