Explore more blogs
Nonprofit Strategies

Create an annual fundraising plan in 7 easy steps (free template!)

Learn how to make an annual fundraising plan for your nonprofit using a free planning template. Plus, additional resources to help you reach your fundraising goals.

Kristine Ensor
December 21, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

Table of contents

This is some text inside of a div block.

Table of contents


Don’t miss out on weekly insights!
150K+ changemakers already subscribed
Success! Check your inbox, good news is on its way 💛
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More than churning out year-end fundraising appeals, the holiday season at many nonprofits is also a time of planning for the year ahead. Nonprofit fundraising can sometimes feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel, but creating an annual fundraising plan can help limit the number of internal and external issues that might get in the way of your success. 

In this article, we’ll walk through these seven steps for getting your annual fundraising plan up and running. Plus, we’ve even got a downloadable template to help you start off on the right foot. 

  1. Evaluate past plans
  2. Identify strengths and weaknesses
  3. Consider potential opportunities—and threats
  4. Set your goals
  5. Choose your fundraising methods
  6. Budget!
  7. Create your fundraising calendar for the year

How to create an annual fundraising plan in 7 steps

Annual fundraising planning gives your organization an overview of what you hope to accomplish and how to get there. Which fundraising campaigns and events will help you meet and exceed your goals next year? Let’s jump in and see!  

<span id="evaluate"></span>

Step 1: Evaluate past fundraising efforts 📊

Before starting on this year’s plan, you must review past years to see where you’ve found success and where you can improve. Below are a few questions you should consider when reviewing previous campaigns and events. Make sure to bring along your financial data from last year so it’s not a guessing game.

  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • Did you meet your goals?
  • What did each fundraising activity cost?
  • Did you raise four times what you spent on each event and campaign?
  • What did past fundraisers and campaigns tell you about donors?
  • Do you have strategies and moves management plans for each donor segment?

<span id="identify"></span>

Step 2: Consider strengths and weaknesses 💪

Looking at a budget won’t help you answer those last two questions, so take the time now to dive deeper into your donor information. Your nonprofit’s strengths and weaknesses affect every part of your fundraising strategy. The following questions focus on donors' experiences, relationships with your organization, communication you send out, and how donors react to your current fundraising activities.

  • What do new donors want?
  • What do your existing donors want?
  • Do you have a large group of donors?
  • Where are your donors based?
  • Do you have a diverse fundraising strategy?    
  • Do you have a recurring donor or membership program?

<span id="think"></span>

Step 3: Identify opportunities and threats 🔮

Internal strengths and weaknesses will impact your fundraising efforts, but so can external opportunities and threats. Unfortunately, nonprofits can’t avoid economic problems that affect their donors. As a fundraiser, you must clearly understand the current economic outlook and how it can affect your fundraising goals, among other factors.

  • Do you offer donors multiple payment options?
  • Are your website and online donation tools mobile-friendly?
  • How do you promote your online donation pages?
  • How did events from the previous year affect your organization’s fundraising efforts?
  • Does your development team face high turnover?

You should also be aware of any fundraising trends that you can leverage to update your current strategy and reach a larger audience. Board members, donors, and staff may have helpful suggestions on current social media trends to add to your fundraising plan, and you can decide which trends resonate with your donor base and complement your fundraising strategy—and which do not. Consider how you might test new tools and how much they may cost you in time and money.

<span id="set"></span>

Step 4: Set your goals ✍️

Now you’re ready to set achievable goals. Remember to keep your nonprofit’s mission (and strategic plan, if you have one) top of mind while writing these goals to ensure they help move your organization in the right direction. 

Your annual fundraising plan should include three overall objectives for the year.

  1. Increase the number of returning donors.
  2. Increase the number of new donors.
  3. Find ways to upgrade current donors.

Then, determine specific, measurable, achievable, result-oriented, and time-bound (SMART) goals for each donor group. You can ask yourself the following questions to create these goals.

  • How many donors do you need?
  • How will you reach them?
  • What activities are they interested in?
  • What specialized or unique attributes can you include?
  • How much can you raise from each donor type?

As you develop an annual plan and fundraising calendar, SMART goals should be the basis for all decisions and will help you create a final financial goal and budget.

Annual Fundraising Planner Template

<span id="choose"></span>

Step 5: Identify your fundraising methods 🎨

Once you’ve determined the number of new and existing donors you want and the goals you hope to meet, you can decide on the different fundraising tactics that will get you there. At this time, you can also consider ways to increase long-term support and larger gifts from your current donor base and fine-tune your fundraising strategy with different fundraising methods, including:

  • Virtual auctions
  • Peer-to-peer or team fundraising campaigns
  • Recurring donation drives
  • Revamping your website and social media
  • Or, tons of other creative fundraising ideas!

<span id="budget"></span>

Step 6: Budget 🧮

Last year’s fundraising calendar and overall nonprofit budget can help you determine financial goals for each fundraising activity for the coming year. Add up how much each event and campaign earned and cost last year before deciding on this year’s financial goals. 

<span id="create"></span>

Step 7: Create your fundraising calendar 🗓️

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details. A fundraising calendar will put your plan into action with dates, team roles and responsibilities, and deadlines. 

Fundraising planning doesn’t happen just once a year. Make sure to schedule time on the calendar to check in with your team at the beginning of each month to review the plan and answer the following questions:

  • What’s working and what isn’t?
  • Where are we on dollars raised?
  • What's coming up next?

<span id="download"></span>

Download your annual fundraising plan template

If this is your first time writing an annual fundraising plan, you may feel unsure of where to begin. We’ve created a free annual fundraising plan template to help you get started. Just go to File → Make a copy to start making it your own! Add your ideas and delete any sections that don’t fit your needs.

Match your plan with the right fundraising platform

As a nonprofit, you must find ways to raise significant funds with limited expenses, and there’s nothing better than finding software that helps you reach your goals without taking a chunk out of your hard-earned dollars. 

Givebutter is a free, all-in-one fundraising platform that helps nonprofits of all kinds raise funds, plan events and auctions, track donor activity, and build relationships with their supporters. See how Givebutter can help you reach your fundraising goals in one easy-to-use place that’s free for you and fun for your donors.

Try out a free demo or sign up for your free account to get started today!

Get started
Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

Share this article


Don’t miss out on weekly insights!
150K+ changemakers already subscribed
Success! Check your inbox, good news is on its way 💛
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Raise funds better, faster, and for free with Givebutter.

Never miss a thing

Stay updated on our latest insights, events, and good news
Success! Check your inbox, good news is on its way 💛
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.