Building a Comprehensive Donor Development Strategy

Westfall Gold launches a series of articles that will help donor development leaders create a fundraising strategy for the next decade

Note: an index to the articles in this series can be found here.

As 2020 rapidly approaches, many non-profit organizations are wrapping up their current strategic plans and beginning to consider their strategy for the next three, five, or ten years.  In light of this, Chief Development Officers will need to present a plan to fund the organization’s long-term vision.

To help nonprofit leaders build their donor development strategy, the Westfall Gold team will be publishing a series of articles that provide a comprehensive framework for a long-term fundraising plan.  The topics we address will follow a traditional process for strategic planning:

External Environment – Identifying global and local trends in philanthropy

These introductory articles will summarize the global megatrends in economics, technology, and society, then identify how these trends will impact philanthropy by 2030. We will then dive the future of philanthropy and how fundraising will change.  In addition to our own team’s insights, we’ll draw on fundraising thought leaders – practitioners, consultants, and academics – to share their perspective.

Internal Environment – Assessing internal strengths and weaknesses

We will provide tips on how to objectively assess your organization’s internal environment, using industry data and case studies to identify your most important opportunities.

Strategy Development – Creating high-level strategic themes

Strategy starts with vision. We’ll give you our thoughts on how to help your organization develop compelling and clarifying vision for 2030, and then help you create a vision for the development team.  We’ll then dive into framing a high-level strategy for vision accomplishment using “Strategic Themes.”

Strategic Objectives – Identifying and prioritizing key initiatives

We’ll dive deep into a number of “Strategic Objectives” – continuous improvement activities that lead to vision fulfillment. We’ll cover strategic objectives from various perspectives:  donors, internal processes, people, and financial stewardship.  These Strategic Objectives will include:  Strengthen Donor Relationships, Improve Organizational Storytelling, Grow Major Donor Support, Build a Culture of Accountability.  For each Strategic Objective, we’ll share best practices, examples of initiatives for small, medium, and large nonprofit organizations, and measures and targets that define success.

Strategic Management – Executing and evaluating the strategic plan

No strategic plan is perfect. We’ll share a model for executing, monitoring, and adjusting your plan.

 

Some of you may have recognized that we are using the Balanced Scorecard as our strategic model.  Developed by Drs Robert Kaplan and David Norton, we’ve found this tried and true approach to be very effective for non-profit organizations.  Not only does the Balanced Scorecard provide clear alignment of strategic priorities, but it also includes measurable goals that objectively define success.

For a fantastic overview of the model, watch this 4 minute video by Intrafocus.  The Balanced Scorecard Institute also provides a number of free resources that explain the model.

Even if your organization uses a different strategic planning model, the components we’ll discuss – strategic themes, objectives, initiatives, measures, and targets – will be applicable to your approach.

As you develop your strategic plan, prioritizing and focusing your objectives is absolutely critical.  Too often development leaders set out to improving everything – boiling the ocean, as it were – instead of concentrating on the two or three most important goals.

Intrafocus shares this insight:  It is better to focus on a small number of things that will influence change rather than so many that nothing gets achieved at all. It has been said if your strategy has three objectives you will succeed in all three.  If it has four to ten objectives, you'll succeed in one to two.  If it contains more than ten objectives, you will succeed in none.

“It’s just as important for a strategy to say what you’re not going to do, as it is for the strategy to indicate what you will do,” states leadership coach Alan Weisenberger, President of enLumen Leadership Services.

Throughout this journey, we will remind you of the need to narrow your focus on the most important objectives.

We hope you find this series valuable as you prepare to build your organization’s long-term donor development strategy.

Click here for index to the articles in this series.

About Westfall Gold

Westfall Gold is the nation’s premier major donor fundraising consultancy — helping clients raise more than $930 million to date to fuel life transformation worldwide. Proven over the course of 400+ events, the signature Westfall Gold major donor weekend continues to produce exceptional results for clients, generating an average ROI of greater than 5:1.

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