Powerful Planning: Your Next Plan

Powerful Planning for Development Part 3:

Your Next Plan

So, you made a mission-centric plan, and are in the process of executing. Great! But you can’t stop there, or your plan is nothing more than an “event.” Your well-informed and executed plan is:

  1. A kick-off to a new way of life
  2. Greater performance
  3. Stronger donor relationships

Your initial plan will have a 2-3 year “look ahead” – a projection that assumes success in year one, and a plan to build on the trends you hope to see. 

powerful planning when looking ahead

Why is this Important?

The fundraising world is seasonal. We need to execute over a minimum of two years before we learn much about how our strategies are performing. YE, FYE, Christmas and of course Summer Slump all only come one time per year. While channel testing and A/B strategies can give us indicators in a single annual cycle, we will only learn about what’s working with regard to trending giving patterns over time. 

The next plan uses the first plan as context and inserts this year’s results against our projections and assumptions. 

Here are your questions for phase two planning: 

Donor Issues 

  • Were our assumptions validated or repudiated? 
  • Did we build the relationships we hoped? 
  • What offers most strongly resonate with our donors? 
  • Have we been able to grow the file and donors’ alignment with our vision/mission? 
  • What are donors telling us about ourselves and our assumptions? 

Organizational Issues 

  • How well did our organizational systems and processes support our plan? 
  • Is there something we need to change if we commit to deeper execution on any new or test strategies? 

Overall Findings 

  • Where were our “home-runs”? (with donors or organizationally) 
  • Where did we underperform or fail? 
  • Did we have unexpected success in anything? If so, can we build on that? 
  • What can we do less of? 
  • What do these findings mean for our strategic development? How are programs impacted? 
  • Is God informing our “plans” through what we see in our results? If so, how? 

You will need to take some time “apart” from the day-to-day operations in your organization to think deeply about your next step plan. The quality of your thinking and analysis is an important factor in wisely crafting your next plan. You are growing your base, your plans evolve with them, respect their needs, call them to a new vision for giving, and lead your organization to success. 


By now, you’ve picked up on a principle: Planning is a dynamic process. Testing, learning, and adjusting are the only way to move ahead. You need the discipline of systematic analysis, a clear-eyed view of where you are and where you want to go, and a passion for bringing your donors into the promise and hope of your why. 

You need the discipline of systematic analysis, a clear-eyed view of where you are and where you want to go, and a passion for bringing your donors into the promise and hope of your why. 

We can all go further, faster and stronger than we think – if we’re smart about it. You have a call, a purpose, and resources to steward and grow. A plan isn’t the only thing you need to succeed – it’s just a tool. A tool that can free you to do more of what you are called to do.  

powerful planning author pamela mccann

A Thought from Pamela:

My purpose in this series of articles is not to give you templated answers. That may be frustrating, I know.

But think about it, if I come to you with fully baked answers, I’m not likely to find the best solution for you.

The best plans ALWAYS start with asking better questions – I can best serve you by helping you ask better questions.

The articles in this series are designed to equip you with tools to ask good questions as you build and review your annual fundraising plan.  - Pamela McCann