Fundraising for a nonprofit organization is a year-round effort. It can involve multiple events, campaigns, proposals, and more. And all of these fundraising elements have deadlines you and your team need to take charge of. Without a fundraising calendar, it’s easy to lose track of tasks, forget deadlines, and struggle to make progress.
In today’s article, we’ll explain why a fundraising calendar is an essential tool for any NPO. We’ll also give you an easy-to-implement step-by-step guide to help you design an annual fundraising calendar that works.
Having a fundraising calendar is a fantastic way to set a foundation for your NPO’s goals. It helps you visualize all your major fundraising events and campaigns and gives you a better sense of the time you have to fulfill them. Your calendar becomes an essential part of planning your fundraisers. With it, you can create a timeline of the steps you need to take for each fundraising effort.
A calendar can also ease the pressure on other aspects of your fundraising operations. Establishing deadlines for tasks means your team doesn’t have to pull miracles together trying to make things happen last minute.
A set calendar works as a cohesive plan to keep different departments (including marketing and communications, events planning, donor support, and more) on top of their work.
It also allows you to use your available time and resources strategically and get the best out of what you have. And, by planning ahead, you can identify gaps in your resources and work to fill them so that you run a successful fundraiser.
Every NPO has several ways of making money and encouraging donations throughout the year. These may include a fundraising gala, monthly giving campaigns, holiday fundraisers, and more. They can also be a mix of virtual and in-person projects.
Listing every campaign you want to run to raise funds will help you get a bigger picture of what to expect. Include set annual events and recurring items as well as new ideas you want to try out.
Once you have a list of upcoming fundraising efforts, you can set timelines for each. First, decide on a date (or period) for the fundraiser. One-time events like a gala will have a set date to work towards, while ongoing online campaigns may span over weeks or months.
With the final deadline set, you can then break down each project into smaller tasks and deadlines. For a gala, this may include activities like getting sponsors for the event, securing a venue, contacting donors, etc.
Link each task to a date by which you want to have completed it. You may also want to include a start date for each item to avoid procrastinating and working on it too late.
Add each task and matching deadline to your calendar.
Your fundraising breakdown will help you monitor progress on work. However, you can also outline key performance indicators to help you keep track of how far you are from your goals.
For example, if one of your tasks involves contacting sponsors and securing funding for a campaign, the number of potential sponsors contacted can be a KPI. Review these and add KPI feedback from your team to your calendar to help you all stay on track.
There are two ways to make your fundraising calendar work efficiently with your budget. One is to make it a companion to your planning process. As you meet each deadline on your timeline, it is important to make sure that your budget still supports your fundraising efforts. How much have you spent and how much do you have left?
Looking at your fundraising calendar together with your project budget will help you gauge if you can sustain your campaign. Where necessary, you can adapt tasks and plans to make sure you can achieve them within your budget. You can also make greater efforts to get more financial or resource support.
The second is as a marker of how far you are from your fundraising goals. What did you want to achieve with your campaign and how far are you from achieving it? You may also have a big annual fundraising goal. Reviewing your calendar can help you see if the work you’re doing is helping get any closer to attaining it.
Donor outreach is an essential part of raising money. Identify the platforms you will use to reach out to donors and raise money. Include important dates for outreach tasks in your calendar. This includes big dates for social media posts, timelines to start advertising, or dates to send out donation requests.
Make sure your outreach dates work hand-in-hand with other deadlines on your calendar. Marketing and communications are key to growing visibility for your fundraising.
At this point, you should have a comprehensive view of the tasks, deadlines, resources, etc. You have a scope of the things your team need to get done. So now it’s time to determine who needs to get what done!
Assigning people or teams to each required task will better the chance of task completion. You know who to hold accountable if something hasn’t been done or certain areas fall behind.
You should also add the names of people assigned to tasks on your calendar so everyone on your team knows who to speak to about certain issues.
Check-ins must become a consistent part of your fundraiser calendar. Set up regular review sessions to go over deadlines and progress.
Use your calendar to keep your fundraising campaigns flexible and adapt where any challenges or changes arise. Don’t be afraid to alter deadlines and tasks accordingly. Your calendar is a useful guide rather than an instruction booklet.
Fundraising calendars are a valuable technique for nonprofits to strategize, visualize their annual work, and create a foundation for steady growth towards their goals. In just seven steps, you can design an efficient yet adaptable template to use for years to come. And there is no better time to try it than now!