This article is part of a lengthy series called Fundraiser Preparation and is Part II of the Advance Planning section. The series is an excerpt from my book, Fundraising Success.
Fundraiser Preparation describes how to do planning and preparation in advance for your fundraisers, including how to block out fundraising timelines and recruit more volunteers for all your activities.
Advance planning for a specific fundraiser
Once you’ve got your six-week blocks positioned properly within your annual calendar, its time to focus on the specific timelines for each of the three major fundraisers you’ve selected. Each timeline will set aside various amounts of time for the following components:
The planning is primarily completed in an outline form. Each fundraiser is a subset of the annual plan. For each fundraiser, your organizational assignments must be made, decisions reached, and an action plan finalized. Make sure this is done first because failing to plan means planning to fail. Call this planning phase week one of the six-week block.
Preparation starts immediately after the first planning meeting. Sales materials are ordered, publicity commences, volunteers are slotted, merchant supporters are contacted, and specific written documentation is completed. Once all of these are completed, you are ready to begin raising funds. Call this part of week one along with a portion of week two in the six-week block.
The execution phase is the actual fundraising window. Your sales support packages (brochures, catalogs, order forms) are handed off to your sales team and the active part of the program is underway. Call this half of week two of the block and continuing through the end of week four.
Tip: Always begin on a Thursday. This gives your sellers (and their parents) a day to review the offering and to complete their prospect list. If your time window is 17 days, it also gives you three weekends to conduct sales instead of the standard two-week sales period. That’s the prime selling time; i.e. when most supporters are easily accessible.
For most catalog sales, the delivery window takes up weeks four and five. All the orders have been batched to the supplier and your group awaits delivery. Results are tallied and when the product arrives, it is sorted for distribution. As mentioned earlier, the actual time windows will shift depending on the type of fundraiser selected, hence the need for specific plans for each fundraiser.
The last week of the six-week block is usually devoted to the necessary follow-up and record keeping tasks. Just because you’re finished, don’t skimp on these areas. This is when you thank your supporters and analyze your results. When you have all the facts, communicate your level of success to everyone and thank them for their help.
Don’t forget to prepare your recommendations for future improvements. Remember to announce the results!
Planning saves time
In actuality, planning saves time and money in the long run. You schedule effectively to work around holidays and other down times: thus preserving them as actual breaks. This advance scheduling allows your group usage of the best selling periods and maximizes your results.
Burnout is no longer an issue because you’re working smarter by not doing continuous fundraising. Both your supporters and your sellers will thank you for not asking them to do a fundraiser every month. Instead, you’re asking your sellers to work smarter and maximize the revenue obtained from each supporter.
Obviously, there are variations in these timelines. Specific fundraisers have flexible windows to perform the functions that vary between different types of campaigns. For example, a fundraiser with immediate delivery wraps up quickly because there are no deliveries to make. An event-based fundraiser will similarly have a two-week period for preparation and interest creation with only a short wrap-up afterwards.
Click here for Fundraiser Preparation: Business Focus
Click Here for Fundraiser Preparation: Advance Planning, Part 1
Click Here for Fundraiser Preparation