What’s a Nonprofit Annual Plan?
Interested in how to create an effective nonprofit annual plan after an organization develops a strategic plan? In an interview with Pinky Vincent of the Police Athletic League, Jennifer Flowers, founder and CEO, Accreditation Guru, Inc., shares several tips and tactics on developing an annual plan.
For new fundraisers, what is the difference between a strategic plan and an annual plan?
The strategic plan is an organization-wide roadmap for the future. It includes competitive analyses and specific goals for the next three to five years.
There are two types of annual plans: First is an agency-wide annual plan that breaks down longer-term strategic plan as goals to accomplish over the next 12 months; and then there’s the annual planning by the development department, which specifies goals and strategies that the fundraising team has been tasked with.
How much time should an agency dedicate to creating an agency-wide annual plan?
That is a good question. Often, the strategic plan can take six to nine months. It typically takes about a month to create the annual plan, including assigning tasks and writing the plan.
Staffing wise, the agency-wide strategic plan is ideally led by the strategic planning steering committee comprising board and staff members. When creating the agency-wide annual plan, staff members from the steering committee will assist in leading the annual planning process. Of course, department heads will be involved in the annual planning process, as necessary.
What are your tips on how fundraisers can add value to the agency-wide annual plan?
Be sure to have a seat at the table so that when goals are being made, the development department can provide input. It helps to keep fundraising goals slightly aggressive, but also realistic. The development team should also determine if they have enough staff and resources to achieve the goals they set and give recommendations when certain activities need to be outsourced.
What information needs to be in an annual plan, at the minimum?
The first is SMART goals, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Next should be key campaign activities and due dates. Then comes a compilation of the internal and external resources required and, last, clear directives regarding who is responsible for each task.
Once the annual plan is completed, how do we incorporate unexpected grants or restricted gifts from major donors that a nonprofit may receive mid-year?
There should be a regular review of progress against goals. I would say every six months or even quarterly, so if significant changes must be made, these new funds can be taken into consideration.
Is an annual plan relevant for very small nonprofits?
Every nonprofit organization that is involved in development should have an annual plan and an organization-wide strategic plan. Only by setting long-term strategic goals and related annual goals can an organization track and monitor its progress, which in turn helps support mission fulfillment.
If you are new to annual planning, Jennifer’s article on this topic is helpful.
Editor’s Note: A version of this interview was published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – New York City Chapter’s Fundraising Matters.
Pinky Vincent has results-based experience managing a nonprofit, including program development, fundraising, marketing/communications, impact measurement, volunteer engagement, advocacy, finance, and business strategy. Pinky works with the Police Athletic League (PAL) which serves more than 20,000 youth in New York City. She leads institutional giving, online donor communications such as social media and blogging, and strategic volunteer engagement efforts. Pinky expanded PAL’s social media presence and launched the nonprofit’s online advertising efforts. Under her leadership, PAL’s social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter have seen double-digit growth in followers.
In addition, Pinky is an active member of Association of Fundraising Professionals - New York City Chapter (AFP-NYC). She participates in IDEA, Communications and Membership Engagement committees. Pinky launched the popular AFP-NYC's LinkedIn page. Since its introduction in April 2018, the number of followers has increased from 10 to more than 300. The average engagement rate for LinkedIn updates is 7%.