Fundraising calendars allow nonprofits to visualize exactly how their annual fundraising plan will play out throughout the year. While your annual plan focuses on your strategies for increasing new and returning donors, your fundraising calendar adds in all the specifics like deadlines, budgets, and team-member responsibilities. In this article, we'll discuss how to create a fundraising calendar, and we’ve even got a fundraising calendar template to help you get started! 🚀
Key sections of a fundraising calendar
Creating your annual fundraising plan has provided you with your different donor groups and SMART goals to address your needs, and now, your fundraising calendar shows exactly how you’ll work to reach your goals throughout the year.
The layout of your fundraising calendar is crucial. Make sure to split the calendar into months or quarters, whichever works best for your organization based on key dates and fundraising goals. Then go through your fundraising plan and integrate each of the following seven elements into the calendar. Everything should align with your nonprofit's annual fundraising goals and overall mission.
- Donor groups 👫
- Your SMART goals 🤓
- Fundraising activities (campaigns, events, appeals, grant deadlines, etc.) 🎩
- Donor communication plans ☎️
- Team member roles and responsibilities 🙋
- Income and expenses 💸
- Deadlines ⌛
1. Donor groups
Your annual fundraising plan focuses on three primary goals: increasing new donors, keeping and retaining current and lapsed donors, and upgrading experiences for all donors. For each month or quarter, your organization should add goals, fundraising activities, and strategies for each of these donor groups.
2. Your SMART goals
You’ve already created specific, measurable, achievable, result-oriented, and time-bound (SMART) goals for each donor group. Now how will you reach these goals? Incorporating these specific benchmarks into your calendar will help you pace yourself and make you much more likely to reach your goals.
3. Fundraising activities
Fundraising activities include recurring donor campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising, donor surveys, and major donor outreach. Adding this section to your calendar lays a foundation for your communication plans and lets you know how far out to plan these activities.
4. Donor communication plans
Communication is a crucial part of building donor relationships. Donors don't want to be treated like ATMs, so you must add different communication steps to your calendar. Donor communication can include surveys, acknowledgment letters, thank-you phone calls, and donation appeals.
For example, one of your goals is to raise more recurring donor funds this year, so your calendar includes a fundraising activity like a recurring donor appeal. Under your communication plan, you’ll add steps such as:
- Develop membership benefits 💌
- Create a recurring donor landing page 🔁
- Launch online campaign 📲
- Send emails ✍️
- Post on social media 💥
5. Team member roles and responsibilities
It's time to decide who's in charge of each of your fundraising activities and communications with donors. As you plan your fundraising calendar, keep track of all team members that can help you meet your goals. This includes board members, staff, volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and more. A framework like RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) can help delineate responsibilities as well as lines of communication to keep your head from spinning off.
6. Your organization’s expenses and income
Your annual fundraising plan will have expected income and expenses for each event and campaign, but your fundraising calendar can break these numbers down to show when funds will actually come in and out of your bank account. These details can help determine where you may need to look for additional funds. For instance, if your annual gala is scheduled a few months into the year, but you have limited funds before that, you may want to prioritize looking for sponsorships.
7. Key dates and deadlines
Once you add specific fundraising activities to your calendar, you must also start adding key dates. These dates can include holidays, event dates, grant deadlines, times when your office is closed, and even reminders to follow up with donors who aren't likely to respond the first time around.
When laying out your calendar, make sure to include each campaign's start date, end date, and when you expect to finalize and update event donor and financial details. As you add these dates, space out your donation requests. You don't want the only communication with donors to be asking for more money.
Download your free fundraising calendar template
To keep everyone on track to reach your fundraising goals throughout the year, break down each activity, budget details, team member responsibilities, and communication plan month by month. This fundraising calendar template can provide a foundation to plan next year's fundraising efforts. To create an editable version of the calendar, just go to File → Make a copy. Now you’re ready to make it your own!
Make it easy on yourself
A fundraising calendar doesn't have to be complicated, especially if you've already created your organization's annual fundraising plan. A calendar is an excellent tool to lay out how you'll achieve your fundraising goals with activities, communication plans, team members, budgets, and key dates. Once you and your team start following the plan, make time to check in each month to evaluate and make any changes to the calendar as needed.
With Givebutter, it’s easy to create fundraising forms and pages, send and track donor communications, and launch events and fundraising campaigns—all in one place. And did we mention that it’s free? Sign up for your free account today to see how Givebutter can make reaching your fundraising goals easy and fun in the new year.
Kristine uses her background in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development to develop in-depth content for nonprofit professionals.