Fundraising planning for small charities

  • Does your small charity or not-for-profit have a fundraising plan?
  • Take time to analyse how much you need to raise and the best methods to use
  • Hold regular meetings to discuss and plan your fundraising in detail

We share six actions for trustees and committees of small charities to consider when planning fundraising strategies.

1. Hold a fundraising meeting

It can be hard for charities to devote enough time to discuss fundraising activities and plans during a regular committee meeting. Holding at least one meeting each year just to talk about fundraising helps give an overview of the bigger picture in order to plan for the following year.

Use the meeting to review your fundraising results. Analyse successes as well as activities that didn’t work. This will help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and set plans for your organisation and its services into the next year.

The meeting should also discuss processes and ethics. For example, are there any funders who you would avoid? Does your data protection comply with legislation? Do you follow the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practise?

2. Create a fundraising subcommittee

Just talking about fundraising once a year is probably not going to be enough. Generating and sustaining funds requires regular and detailed management. Invite committee members with an interest in fundraising to create a subcommittee and find someone to chair the meetings. This subcommittee should lead your organisation’s fundraising.

If you don’t have any expert fundraisers on your board, recruit a fundraising trustee. The Charity Commission’s free publication Finding new trustees, covers areas such as setting up a framework for recruitment, appointing a new trustee and induction. The Small Charities Coalition has a downloadable list of Trustee recruitment services.

3. Identify the things you need

Make a list of all of the resources your organisation needs to deliver your planned activities and services. Divide the list into resources that could be donated (such as play equipment or art materials) and those you need to raise money to pay for.

Create a simple budget for the items you need to pay for. This will help you to build a plan for the funds you need to raise.

Items which could be donated are called ‘goods in kind’ or ‘resource raising’. See our 7 Quick steps to resource raising guide.

4. Develop a fundraising plan

Think about the different ways you will raise the funds you require. A good fundraising plan will include a range of different fundraising techniques. Creating a good funder mix will:

  • Produce both unrestricted and restricted income
  • Reduce risk of becoming funder led
  • Avoid dependency on a single main funder
  • Increase your organisation’s sustainability
  • Provide potential supporters with different ways to help

5. Recruit help

Once you have your fundraising target and a plan, you need to identify who will carry out your fundraising. To achieve the best results you need to commit time to fundraising on a regular basis. Does your existing team have the time and skills to fundraise?

If they have the time but not the skills or confidence, look at providing training and support. There are lots of sources of help available including the Institute of Fundraising’s mentoring scheme.

If your team doesn’t have time, could you pay for some professional fundraising support? The Institute of Fundraising has a useful guide on employing and paying fundraisers. It provides guidance for not-for-profit organisations thinking about employing a professional fundraiser, consultant or professional fundraising organisation.

Many smaller organisations who don’t have a budget for a member of staff to fundraise, recruit volunteers. You can advertise for a volunteer fundraiser for free on sites such as Charity Job and Do it.

6. Review and improve

Remember to regularly review your fundraising plan at committee meetings and analyse your fundraising results against your targets.

Which fundraising techniques have generated the best results? Have some fundraising events taken a lot of work with little return? Are there any new income-generating opportunities?

Update and amend your fundraising plan at every committee meeting, to reflect your experiences, and record your results. Keeping accurate fundraising records is essential in helping maintain good funder relationships.

Remember to regularly thank funders and fundraising volunteers. Everyone appreciates a thank you letter.