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Identify, Research, Cultivate, Solicit, Steward. How many times have you gone through this cycle? As fundraisers, that’s what we do. Some of us work for large institutions with research departments and donor relations teams, but I would say, the majority of us work for much smaller organizations with one or two, or maybe three people who do it all.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your next fundraising cycle.

  • What is your goal?
    • Break it down into smaller goals. For example, foundations, board giving, special giving days, major donors, events, etc.
    • Break it down per quarter. This won’t be evenly distributed because more funds are raised in some quarters.
  • What is your fundraising budget? It takes money to raise money.
  • Know your donors. Whether you have a portfolio of donors or not, and as much as possible, know who are monthly donors, long-time donors, brand new donors, etc.
  • Segment and target your solicitations.
  • Document your actions. Use your CRM. If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.
  • Keep track of funds raised in comparison to your goals. This is a great motivator.
  • Is your organization abiding by ethical fundraising standards?
  • Taking the time to plan your fundraising cycle is critically important to your success. Scheduling your solicitations and plotting all the steps needed to prepare for that solicitation give you a clear picture of the time required, and the materials needed.

    I’m a visual person. I need to see the months and write in my deadlines and all the steps necessary, as well as holidays and vacations. This practice makes my colleagues, who have grown up with computers, crazy! But it works for me. I can see the conflicts and the overlaps. Wherever I’ve worked, I’ve kept my 12-18-month plan on the wall so everyone can see where we are and what’s coming up.

    The bottom line is, take the time to plan. Use the method that works best for you and your team and you’re that much closer to success.

    At DMGroupConsulting, our goal is to help you achieve your goals. Contact us at