An effective fundraising campaign takes a lot of planning, and it’s important to have a strong strategy in place to help guide you along the way.
A great fundraising framework can help you get prepared and allow your nonprofit to hit the ground running.
In this article, we’ll help you learn everything you need to know about setting a fundraising planning framework, including a general overview of a fundraising framework, a detailed breakdown of what it entails, steps on how to build one, and some best practices to keep in mind as you put your own fundraising strategy framework in place.
Let’s dig in!
Overview of a Fundraising Framework
Fundraising frameworks may seem overwhelming, but once you break them down they become much more manageable. Here’s all you need to know.
What Is a Fundraising Framework?
You wouldn’t want to build a house without a solid frame, so why should a fundraising campaign be any different? A fundraising framework serves as an outline for what you want to accomplish at your nonprofit through fundraising and how you plan to achieve it.
An effective fundraising campaign includes the following core elements:
How you plan to execute these goals, including which team members will be involved
This framework can be adjusted for specific campaigns or completely overhauled when you look at your annual planning. It’s intended to be flexible to help you raise the most funds for your organization, and it’s a great way to ensure your whole team is on the same page. It can even be used as a resource as you bring new people onto your fundraising campaigns.
The more detailed your fundraising framework, the more helpful it will be in raising more funds for your nonprofit.
Ultimately, a strategic fundraising framework helps nonprofits avoid fundraising aimlessly without a clear direction or concentrated efforts.
Why Is It Essential to Have a Fundraising Framework?
Fundraising is necessary for nonprofits to survive, and it requires a lot of planning to ensure it’s successful. Sure, you can try to blindly raise funds, but with no framework or strategy in place, you will be unlikely to sustain the long-term financial health of your organization.
A fundraising framework is critical to the effectiveness of your campaigns, so it’s essential that you invest the time to set one before you move forward with any fundraising plans.
Overall, the framework will help you organize your efforts, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that key stakeholders are aligned with the plan moving forward.
While it’s possible to fundraise without a framework, you’ll most likely end up wasting some of your limited resources and exhausting your budget.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Fundraising Framework?
There are many benefits of having a fundraising framework in place. Some of the biggest ones include:
Gaining alignment on overall fundraising goals
Driving efficiencies by removing duplicate efforts
Helping you reach your fundraising goals through clear and structured methods
Garnering support from key stakeholders from day one
Facilitating and securing feedback more easily
Your whole fundraising team is working toward the same goals—and when you have a framework in place, it’s like you’re using the same map to get there. An effective fundraising framework will help you find and raise the funding you need to make a greater impact, and the time you invest in setting one up will yield dividends in the long term.
The Fundamentals of a Fundraising Framework
A fundraising framework is essential in any nonprofit. It serves as a guidebook for all fundraising activities. Let’s spend some time going over the fundamentals of what it entails.
Core Elements of a Fundraising Framework
You want to strike a fine balance between strategy and details in your fundraising framework.
You don’t want to be so detailed that there’s no room for creativity, flexibility, or adaptability. Nor do you want to be so open that there’s no structure. As you set your fundraising framework, consider including the following elements (we’ll go over each in more detail in the next section):
As you set your fundraising strategy framework, make sure to keep the donor in mind throughout it all. If you aren’t reaching your target donor effectively, you will not be able to raise the money you need to fuel your efforts.
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Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Fundraising Framework
In this section, we would like to provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you create your own fundraising framework.
Step 1: Set Your Goals
As you think about creating a fundraising framework, you need to start by setting goals. What is it that you hope to accomplish? And more importantly, what do you need to help you get there?
One easy way to set clear and actionable goals is to perform a SWOT analysis, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here are some examples of questions in each area you can ask yourself as you look to dig a little deeper and set your goals.
Strengths: What are some things you do well? What structures do you already have in place? How have you been successful in the past?
Weaknesses: What are some areas that you need improvement in? Are there gaps in your programming or infrastructure? What has been a struggle to achieve?
Opportunities: Is there anything coming up that you can utilize? Are there existing resources you can tap into and make stronger?
Threats: Is there anything that could stand in the way of advancing your mission? What are some threats to your success?
The answers to the questions can inform your fundraising goals.
Step 2: Create a Budget
Now that you know your goals, it’s time to create your budget! It costs money to raise money, so you need to have a clear plan on how much you want to spend.
Here are some things you should consider as you create your budget:
Incremental costs, including various engagement efforts to help steward donors
A good rule of thumb is that your expenses should be no more than 20 percent of the overall campaign goal. The remaining 80 percent should go directly toward the programming and increasing the impact your nonprofit can make.
Step 3: Choose Your Fundraising Methods
Next up is choosing how you want to raise money.
You should use a variety of fundraising methods as part of your strategy. Most donor bases will want to be approached in different ways, so make sure that you have a balanced mix of fundraising efforts.
This can include:
Personal solicitation, like phone calls and in-person meetings
Social media challenges and campaigns
Donor letters, including mail and email
Applying to grants, including from public and private foundations, governments, corporations, and more
Events, including mixers, galas, silent auctions, donation drives, and more
Giving societies, which incentivize giving to join an exclusive club
For example, Children International has a great social media campaign pinned at the top of their Instagram feed, educating others on their mission and encouraging them to donate to make an impact.
Their social media campaign is ongoing, and it ties into their overall fundraising campaign efforts.
Make sure to measure the effectiveness of your fundraising methods throughout your own campaigns and make adjustments as needed. If you are seeing little return on investment in one method, you can stop doing it and allocate the resources to another, more successful effort.
Step 4: Build Your Fundraising Team
The right team can make all the difference when it comes to a successful campaign, so make sure you take the time to build the right fundraising team.
Include people with various strengths and backgrounds for a more balanced campaign.
This can include major gift directors, annual giving specialists, communication managers, grant writers, and more. Depending on the organization, the fundraising team should be able to support the comprehensive campaign, from planning to execution.
Step 5: Execute Your Campaign
Once everything is in place, it’s time to execute your campaign! This is the fun part. You get to see your fundraising framework put into practice and used effectively. And if you face bumps along the way, that’s okay! Be agile and adjust your strategy accordingly.
As you execute your campaign, you may see gaps and areas of weakness, so don’t be afraid to go back and do another SWOT analysis to make your campaign even better!
Best Practices in Fundraising Framework Development
When you take the time to set a good fundraising planning framework, you will notice a difference. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.
Understanding Your Donors
Your donors are the lifeblood of your organization. You need their support for your campaigns to be successful, so it’s critical you understand who they are and what they want.
Listen to them. Are there specific programs your top donors feel passionate about? Do they like to be communicated with in a specific way? If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to survey them to get their feedback. The more you can understand what drives your donors and build relationships with them, the more successful your fundraising efforts will be.
Focusing on Donor Retention
Building on understanding your donors is an increased focus on donor retention. An influx of one-time gifts is fantastic for the short term, but what about the long-term sustainability of your organization?
A focus on donor retention and a deep understanding of your donor base is critical to help cultivate a one-time donor into a lifelong supporter. Simple efforts like thank you notes or calls to check in can help them feel like they’re more than just a dollar sign to your organization.
It doesn’t have to be a big effort to make a big difference to your donors, and stewarding them from their first gift can help you retain them year after year.
Regularly Reviewing and Adapting the Framework
The world changes quickly, and your fundraising framework should do the same. Make sure to check in on it regularly to review and adapt it.
One easy way to do this is to have metrics in place to measure if you are successful. That way, it is easy to see if you need to make adjustments because you already have a baseline for what success means.
For example, if your email campaigns aren’t doing well, check the bounceback and open rate. If your events are getting low attendance, look at how you are segmenting your attendee list.
Some nonprofits choose to create a logic model as part of their fundraising framework, listing out their resources, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impacts and representing them visually to help them see any gaps and adjust as needed.
When you regularly review your campaign performance, you can more quickly identify if you are in danger of not meeting your goals. If so, you can make adjustments to help get you back on track. The worst thing you can do is set it and forget it.
Wrapping Up: The Next Steps
A fundraising framework should always be the first step to any fundraising campaign because it helps you outline your goals, budget, fundraising methods, and the support you need to bring it all to life.
An effective framework ensures your organization is aligned moving forward, helping you streamline your fundraising efforts to maximize your impact. Taking the time to plan at the beginning will set you up for success in the long term.
And don’t forget to check out Instrumentl’s blog for more guides, tips, and resources to help demystify the fundraising process so that your nonprofit can further its important mission.
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