Bag of money in hand
Talent Published Date, 2020

How Strategic Planning Helps You Attract Big Gifts

Created By: Kelly Dunphy and Regina Cialone, CFRE
September 30, 2020

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are in the middle of that hard-to-get prospect meeting you have been working on for months. You have done your research and nailed every bit of a compelling pitch. You’ve identified this prospect as being the perfect $250,000 donor. Now you have just finished the ask and are waiting on their response. They smile, and tell you, “I loved everything about this project and am really moved by your organization’s impact. What if I pledged $5 million?”

Would you be prepared to answer? Would you be prepared to tell them what a $5 million gift would mean for your organization, and what it would accomplish? And would your answer align with your CEO’s answer? You need to be equipped to respond to this $5 million offer with a bold vision that inspires donors and drives your fundraising potential.  A well-developed strategic plan can help you have that answer in your pocket – ready for any transformational investment.

The process of creating a strategic plan aligns the board, staff, and volunteers around a common vision and mission, as well as goals and priorities. It also:

  • Empowers each key person to speak confidently about programs and the need for funds by ensuring everyone shares the same vision for the organization’s future and impact
  • Helps create and strengthen an inspirational, clear, and measurable vision statement
  • Assists you in making choices on your key initiatives, sharpening your focus to move your organization towards that vision
  • Clarifies your organization’s differentiators and competitive advantage, proving why your organization is uniquely positioned to tackle its mission, and lastly,
  • Informs your fundraising priorities, helping your donors understand how their contributions will create sustainable change for the greatest impact.

Traditionally viewed as an in-depth and possibly resource consuming process, strategic planning can also be a high-level, situational analysis with scenario planning. This condensed version involves working with a select group of board and staff to reaffirm or refresh your vision and mission, to then identify 3-5 organizational priorities with desired impact for the next 3 years, and finally, to create an action plan that will define what measurable, concrete steps are needed to successfully accomplish those goals. Ultimately, both the full process and the abbreviated versions will inform your case for support, inspire donors, and drive fundraising.

If your organization is undergoing a change in leadership, change in the population that you serve, mission adjustment, campaign preparation, or simply needs revenue diversification, we recommend the first place to start is developing a unified strategic vision and plan. We work with mid-to large-sized nonprofits to provide a hands-on approach in developing a practical plan that is not only actionable, but also achievable. 

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