Fire up Fundraising Momentum with a 90-day Plan

February 8, 2016
5 minutes

You’ve probably read all the blog posts and books on creating an annual fundraising plan. Having a plan is undeniably important, so there's a lot of content out there. But there are two common problems with most fundraising plans.

First, most fundraising plans are built on a year timeline—as you get further into the year it’s harder to plan, and if you're able to plan, it's difficult to hold to the plan all year long. Second, most fundraising plans are great at declaring goals and strategy, but miss the mark when it comes to implementation.

It's time for you to get into action and get momentum in your fundraising program. That’s why we’re here to help you build your 90-day fundraising plan.

Start with your annual goal

While we're going to plan in a 90-day increment, what we do during these 90 days needs to be focused on a bigger goal, which is likely your annual fundraising goal. It could also be another strategic goal you’ve set for your fundraising program, like a donor acquisition and retention goal.

Once you’ve got your annual goal in mind, define a clear milestone for your 90-day plan so that you're truly taking the most impactful action on a daily and weekly basis.

As an example, let’s say your annual goal is to raise $500,000. Your 90-day milestone could be to raise $125,000.

Choose your areas of focus

Your 90-day plan isn't meant to be a catch-all or addition to your already-endless to-do list. It’s meant to be a strategic, focused action plan that helps you address the tasks most likely to bring results. Realistically, you can’t do it all without working excessive hours or worse, burning out.

As an act of self-care and being the strategic fundraising you are, you’re going to choose 2 to 4 areas of focus for your 90-day plan. Over the course of a year, some of these areas of focus may stay the same, but some could shift as you make progress towards your goal.

Going back to our example. Our 90-day milestone is to raise $125,000. Our areas of focus could include a spring campaign and donor communication

Depending on your role, you may already have operations or systems areas of focus. If this kind of work is part of your regular role and takes up a chunk of your time, be realistic about whether or not to include it as an area of focus in your plan.

Set your monthly priorities

Now we’re getting into the finer details of your plan—setting monthly priorities. For each of your areas of focus, you need to determine what you need to accomplish that month in order to meet your 90-day milestone and ultimately your annual goal.

If you find yourself wanting to include everything but the kitchen sink in your monthly priorities, challenge yourself to under plan. Yes! Plan to accomplish less than you think you should, because as we all know everything takes longer to accomplish than initially planned and fires inevitably crop up.

Gary Keller, author of The One Thing, also has useful advice for under planning. “What is the one thing I can do right now, that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?”

Using our example, here’s what monthly priorities could look like.

Areas of focus

Area of Focus
Month 1
Month 2
Month 3

Spring Campaign

1. Create a project plan for the campaign

2. Set messaging for spring campaign

3. Find 1 or 2 featured stories for the campaign

1. Write all direct mail, email and social posts for campaign period

2. Approve and format all direct mail and email

1. Campaign launch

2. Steward campaign donors

3. Evaluate campaign

Donor Communication

1. Send 3 emails to email subscribers

2. Send snail mail donor newsletter

1. Send 4 emails to subscribers that lay messaging foundation for the spring campaign

1. Create post-campaign communication plan

As you can see, each of these monthly priorities is a multi-step project. As you get into weekly or even daily planning, bring out your 90-day plan and set your weekly or daily tasks based on what is going to help you fulfill your monthly priority. Each week you can ensure you’re taking focused action towards your most important goal.

A 90-day plan can ramp up and sustain your fundraising growth the way a longer plan can't. The more action you take, the more momentum you’ll feel in your fundraising program, which is how you’ll hit your goal of feeling like a fundraising rockstar.  

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