How to Put Together Your Annual Fundraising Plan

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As the year draws to a close, it’s time to start putting plans into effect for next year. How much does your nonprofit need to raise and how are you going to acquire those funds? Those are the two main questions that an annual fundraising plan must answer to help you become more successful. This blog post explores how to create an annual fundraising plan and even provides a helpful annual fundraising plan template to help putting together your fundraising plan easier. Ready to download the template? Here you go!

What is an annual fundraising plan (also known as a nonprofit strategic plan)? 

The annual fundraising plan is a document detailing the fundraising plans for the entirety of the upcoming year. There is no standard for how this document looks, but a good rule of thumb is to make it as detailed as possible. It’s a good idea to put together an annual fundraising calendar to include with the plan that details when things are happening and who is responsible for making them happen. 

An annual fundraising plan differs from a Nonprofit Development Plan in that the annual plan is for the year where a nonprofit development plan can extend beyond the calendar year and details the goals you want to reach beyond that one-year timeframe. Likewise, it differs from a nonprofit marketing plan because the document you create isn’t limited to one campaign.  

What does a nonprofit strategic plan include? 

A nonprofit strategic plan, or annual fundraising plan, includes details about fundraising events, appeals, grants, and other fundraising activities planned throughout the year. The document should outline when these activities are taking place, who is responsible for each of the activities, and how much each fundraising initiative needs to raise to be on pace to meet the annual fundraising goal. More detailed plans may also include contingency plans for when goals aren’t met. 

Review your year

The best way to set your new goals is to analyze your previous year. Take a look at your programs, performance, and resources to determine where you’re at. That can make it easier to determine where to go when moving forward from the previous fiscal year. 

First, review your programs and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do they still fit with your organization’s goals, purpose, and mission? 
  • Are there any changes you need to make to update or refresh programs? 
  • Are there tweaks you can make to increase program success? 

The most important question to ask yourself about your programs is “do your programs still fit your organization’s goals, purpose, and mission.” This question determines whether your mission has changed or if tweaks need to be made to your existing programs to get you back on track. From there you can focus on more granular questions such as how to refresh programs or increase program success. 

Next, take a look at your performance. 

  • Did you reach your overall fundraising goal?
  • Did you meet any secondary goals you set? 
  • If you haven’t met your goal, how will you adjust your strategy to meet it in the new year?  

Finally, review and list your resources and determine if new resources are needed to meet goals. Take a look at: 

  • Technology 
  • Volunteers 
  • Board 
  • Partnerships 
  • Staff 
  • Current budget 

We recommend downloading our End of Year Workbook to help your nonprofit set reasonable goals based on what you achieved over the past year. 

Set SMART goals

Once you’ve determined where your nonprofit stands based on last year’s performance, it’s time to set goals for your upcoming fiscal year. However, it’s not enough to just create goals. Your goals should be meaningful and something you can take action to achieve. That’s why it’s recommended that you set SMART goals.  

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

For example, instead of setting a goal like: “Will increase the number of major gift donors,” you want to set a SMART goal that provides more detail, like: “By launching a major donors giving society we will increase the number of major gift donors by 5% by the second quarter of the fiscal year.”  

The difference between the two goals is the second includes a measurable amount to determine progress toward the goal, a deadline to achieve the desired result, and is overall more specific in how they’ll reach the goal.  

Now that you know what SMART goals are, it’s time to set your goals. Start with how much you need to raise next year. 

Determine how much you need to raise next year

The starting point to your annual fundraising plan is determining how much your nonprofit needs to raise in the upcoming calendar year to provide its services. Ask yourself the following questions to determine how much you need to raise: 

  • How much have your needs changed from year to year?  
  • Do you anticipate a greater need for your services in the upcoming year? If so, how much does that extra need cost your nonprofit?  
  • How much do you need to fundraise in order to pay your expenses and provide those services?  

The answers to these questions can often be determined by looking at expenses year over year and determining the exact costs of the services you provide throughout the year. Then, add how much more those services will cost the next year for a target number you need to raise. 

For example, say your nonprofit spent $100,000 on providing services in your community. You anticipate the need for your services will grow by 10% in the new year. You would add ten percent of $100,000 to your expenses in order to determine the minimum amount you’ll need to fundraise in order to provide the services your nonprofit offers. That would mean the amount you need to raise for next year is $110,000 factoring in the ten percent increase in the cost to provide your programming. 

Once you’ve determined your overall fundraising goals, set secondary goals based on your fundraising initiatives. These goals vary depending on your nonprofit and the fundraising plan you’re putting in place. 

List your fundraising initiatives and how much each campaign needs to raise 

Next, list your fundraising initiatives and how much each campaign needs to raise to reach your annual fundraising goal. This can be a time-consuming process, but it pays off to be as detailed as possible. You’ll want to note when you’ll be hosting fundraising events, sending appeals, submitting grants, and when other fundraising activities are taking place (such as Giving Tuesday).  

It helps to put these activities on your fundraising calendar and include the calendar as part of your annual fundraising plan. Detail what activities are happening when and who is responsible for each activity. You should also include the revenue that each activity is expected to generate. Plan for contingency activities you can launch for any campaigns or events that fall short of the fundraising goals you’ve set. 

Describe each campaign and include historic fundraising information for each campaign (if possible) 

When laying out your campaigns for the year, it helps to analyze previous iterations of this campaign and set individual goals for each of your new campaigns as well. It’s not all about raising more money (though that should definitely be your top priority).  

You could also set non-monetary goals for fundraising events such as increasing the number of attendees to your event by 5% or cutting event costs by 3% to increase profits.  

The same applies to your fundraising appeals. You can set non-monetary goals such as getting fewer appeal letters returned by the post office by overhauling your appeal process or increasing the number of overall responses to your appeal by a certain percentage. 

These goals should strengthen your fundraising activities and give you something to strive for. Comparing your performance against previous historical data gives you a good jumping off point for setting reasonable goals that will help you reach your overall fundraising goal. 

Assign roles to staff, board members, and volunteers for each campaign 

Once you’ve set your goals and added important dates to your annual fundraising calendar, be sure to create a master document that outlines who is assigned which roles during each of your planned fundraising initiatives. Assign roles to your staff, board members, and volunteers and communicate those assigned roles to the assignees as early as possible. You want to make sure that their responsibilities are on their radar (and on their personal calendars).  

This step is especially important if you have an initiative to get board members more involved with fundraising. Being able to ask them to take on responsibilities ahead of time gives them the freedom to add your fundraising initiatives to their calendars early and actually follow through when the time comes. 

Assess your resources and make changes as needed 

The last step in generating an effective annual fundraising plan is to assess your resources and determine what you need or need to improve.  

Base your answers on the resources listed the previous year. For instance, you may list the resources from last year and determine if tweaks need to be made to produce better results in the upcoming fiscal year. 


When it comes to technology, you may need more powerful tools or less expensive options to cut overhead expenses. Compare competitors against one another and don’t be afraid to make changes that benefit your nonprofit. If your online donation forms, peer-to-peer fundraising tools, or auctions software didn’t deliver the results you expected last year, it makes sense to try out other providers and see if you can improve.  

That said, be sure to fully vet any potential technology partners to make sure that they’re able to deliver the tools you need to accomplish what you plan to. Ask a lot of questions and request demos to see what each potential provider can do. If there’s a crucial function or integration missing, then that provider likely isn’t right for you. But there may be a perfect provider out there that delivers everything you need and more at a price within your budget. 

If you want to upgrade your fundraising tools, request a demo with Qgiv. We have a full suite of fundraising tools designed to help nonprofits raise more so they can do more. 


Your volunteers are an invaluable asset to your nonprofit. If you don’t have enough volunteers start up a volunteer recruitment program in order to attract and retain your talented volunteers. They can save your nonprofit tons of time and money contributing their unique skills to your nonprofit. 

If you need to grow your pool of available volunteers, check out this blog post for some ways to attract new volunteers to your nonprofit. 

Your board

When it comes to your board, think about how your board members assisted with your fundraising this year. What changes would you like to see? Do you they need to be more involved? Did all of your board members donate to your cause? Did any attend fundraising events or offer up items for auction?  

If you’re not satisfied with your board’s performance, work on it with them by coming up with SMART goals for your board members. Check out this blog post for more details on how to change the board you have. 


Who does your nonprofit partner with? What do your partners bring to the table? Do you they donate or sponsor any of your nonprofit fundraising events? Are they referring would-be donors to you? Overall, what benefits do you receive from current partners and are there any potential partners you’d like to pursue? Is it time to reevaluate a partnership that isn’t as fruitful as promised? 

Ask yourself these questions then determine how you’ll move forward with retaining existing and establishing new partnerships within your community.  


Do you have enough staff? Are staff members supportive of your fundraising initiatives? How can you get staff more involved if they aren’t giving or participating in your fundraising campaigns? 

Determine goals to increase staff participation in fundraising initiatives and how you can increase donations from staff to your nonprofit. 

Your budget

Was your budget sufficient to accomplish the goals you set out to last year? How have your budgetary needs changed going into a new fiscal year? Determine what your budgetary needs are for your initiatives and seek approval for that amount. Be sure to give yourself enough financial resources to be able accomplish the fundraising goals you’ve set. 

Final thoughts

Your annual fundraising plan is a key part of your nonprofit’s success. By assessing your historical data and setting reasonable goals you’ll be able to plan successful fundraisers for the entire year. Assign roles ahead of time and get important initiatives on the calendars of those who play roles in your initiative’s success. Lastly, assess your technology and determine if you’ll be served better by a different technology partner. With these steps in mind you can develop an outstanding annual fundraising plan. To make creating your annual fundraising plan easier, we’ve put together this handy template. Download your free copy today. 

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