Main steps in planning for campaign fundraising
- Preparing the campaign budget: How much money does the fundraising strategy need to generate so that the campaign can be run with a reasonable chance for success? Two reasonably detailed budgets should be prepared: the core budget, the absolute minimum needed for the campaign to yield meaningful outcomes, as well as a “best case scenario” budget, with budget lines for additional activities.
- Mapping internal and community resources: What can the campaign team, alliance members and local and professional communities contribute to the campaign, over the different milestones or segments of the campaigning period? Even if campaigners already invest their time, it is advisable the originators of the campaign contribute money before asking others – it helps show appreciation for the choices donors make when they support a campaign, and lends added credibility. In-kind contributions include volunteer time, pro bono support by communication specialists, celebrities, lawyers and other professionals, free air-time on the radio, free venues or food for events, and free office supplies. In addition to generating extra resources, mobilizing such contributions broadens “moral” support for the campaign.
- Mapping potential sources of income: The most common types of campaign income are (i) voluntary contributions from campaigners and individual supporters; (ii) institutional donor grants; (iii) community support;(iv) private sector (corporate) donations; and (v) income from campaign products or activities. National laws may restrict specific forms of fundraising for certain types of organizations. For example, receiving donations from international organizations may be subject to government approval. Such restrictions need to be taken into account. Conversely, some national laws provide special incentives for potential donors, such as tax relief for individual and corporate donations to non-profit organizations. Ethical criteria also need to be established to decide whether the campaign can morally afford to accept money from any potential donor, or certain sources should be excluded (e.g. donations from corporations with a demonstrably poor human rights record).
4. Analyzing the options: Which potential sources of income are likely to work out for the campaign? What donors are interested in the campaign issue? Which types of sources have been tapped before? Donors’ application deadlines and procedures must be taken into account, as well as the time likely to elapse before the first funding installment arrives. What are the costs and the benefits of accepting a contribution from a certain source? Are the likely maintenance costs, e.g. the staff time needed to fulfill complex reporting requirements or accommodate donor visits, manageable?
5. Developing a fundraising plan, which should contain:
- The purpose of the fundraising plan (what the money is needed for) and the income goal, i.e. the total amount to be raised;
- Potential sources of funds and income goals for each source;
- Specific fundraising activities (e.g. collecting donations at public events, applying for institutional grants, building a fundraising component into the website);
- “Maintenance”, such as contacting and reporting to individual donors, thank-you letters, and any activities related to fiscal requirements;
- Clear distribution of responsibilities (who will raise funds from which sources?); and
- Time-line for each fundraising component.
6. Reviewing the campaign strategy: Ideally, fundraising aspects should be well integrated into the overall campaign strategy. This allows the campaign team to identify different activities at different times which could be opportunities for attracting contributions. Campaign communications efforts and networking activities offer many potential opportunities to fundraise for example: the campaign website can invite supporters to donate, a seminar can appeal to participants to become donors, campaign products like t-shirts and caps can generate revenue, etc.
7. Monitoring: Regular monitoring of the campaign and its fundraising plan will allow for adjusting the plan if necessary to respond to any important changes (internal or external). Monitoring arrangements should include deadlines (e.g. for submission of grant proposals), milestones (e.g. amount to be raised within the first six months) and risk mitigation strategies (“What if funding is insufficient?”). If at some point it appears that fundraising targets will not be met, quick action may be necessary, e.g. a shift in the campaign launch date or a change or reduction in activities.
Bear in mind: In a context of collaboration, it is especially important that all parties are fully informed of responsibilities and accountabilities related to raising money, and to responding to donor requirements, such as financial reports and reporting on results.