Communication and fundraising plan 02

1. Why a communication and fundraising plan?

You are enthusiastic about the project that you support. Naturally you would like to share your enthusiasm as well as involve more people in the project, preferably as volunteer or donor. A communication strategy (i.e. the way in which you communicate) ensures that you will achieve your aims. It is a result-oriented way of communicating. How you will implement the strategy is described in detail in your communication and fundraising plan. This is a kind of planning to communicate certain matters and prepare your fundraising activities.

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A communication and fundraising plan describes how different communication activities contribute to the achievement of your organisation’s goals. For example, ‘realising good quality education for the children in location X, to be achieved by…’

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2. Before you start: vision, mission and core messages

You want to reach people. People get to know your foundation through the communication messages that you broadcast. Therefore, before you begin writing your communication plan, what it is that you would like to tell about yourself. You can do that by formulating a mission and a vision. Those will make it clear to everybody what you are working on and moreover, they are the point of departure of all your communication outings. Logically, your mission connects to that of your partner organisation. What is their approach? Which values do they consider important?

A mission describes who you are and what you stand for. In a few sentences, a mission answers the following questions: Who are we? What do we do? Who do we support? How do we work? A vision indicates where you want to move towards, what your long-term perspective is. A vision also often represents an ideal situation. You can draft your mission and vision more easily when you know which values you share as an organization. These values you incorporate in your mission and vision. Do you want to find out which values you consider important in your organisation? Here you will find a exercise that could help you.

For example, take a look at the mission and vision of Wilde Ganzen (Wild Geese Foundation). Similarly, you could view the Millennium Development Goals as a mission statement. They can be found here.

Your mission and vision could inspire others and lead to people feeling engaged with your organisation’s work. One way to achieve this is by first telling why the project was started. The values that you consider important will surface here especially. Next, you can explain the ‘how’ and only then you come to the ‘what’. Simon Sinek explains in this TED Talk in an infectious manner how great leaders inspire action using this method.

‘Everyone has a right to education. That is why organisation X supports the inhabitants of Mwanza, Tanzania to make their schools more accessible to girls.’

This former sentence we call a core message. When mission and vision are clear, you can formulate one or multiple core messages. The vision and mission are interwoven and the why is made explicit. The formulation of a core message prevents you from thinking with every email you draft or every new acquaintance made: ‘What is it again that I wanted to say?’ When your core message is clear, you can mold it into any shape you like. Formulated short and sharp, or more extensively explained. Multiple core messages are possible, for example specifically for a certain project or target group. A core message is more convincing when you illustrate it with things you have already achieved. When, moreover, partners or persons who were supported by the project tell about the impact the project has had on them, the message will become ever so inspiring. Anyhow, it is wise to closely cooperate with your partner organisation, just like with the vision and mission. After all, they are closest to where the real action takes place and they know the best and most engaging stories.

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3. The communication plan in eight steps

When your vision, mission and core messages are made clear, you can start drafting the actual communication and fundraising plan. Such a plan can be written for the period of a year, a month, for a specific activity or for a specific project. Key is that you do not write it for a very long term or a very large project, because then it will be more difficult to keep a good overview. Think about what is more convienient for your organisation. For a communication and fundraising plan, you need to follow a number of steps:

Step 1: Mapping: what do you want and what means do you have?

First, you set the boundaries: How does the communication contribute to your organisation’s goal? Which situation do you want to alter with your communication? Are you mostly set on fundraising, or are you more into informing your audience? Subsequently, you analyse which problems you may encounter when implementing your communication plan and what could be possible causes and especially solutions. Which stakeholders could be involved in your communication plan? Also think about the preconditions: what means, time and money do you have to implement the communication and fundraising plan?

Step 2: Communication and fundraising goals

By formulating communication and fundraising goals you will make the overall aim concrete and clear. A specific goal is limited in scope and time and is, as stated before, in line with the organisation’s main goal(s). In the communication and fundraising goals you explain what you think you are able to achieve, for whom, why and in which timespan.

For instance:

“1000 youth between 20 and 35 years of age in London partake in the sponsor run for project X on 23 July 2015, collecting € 3500.”

Your goal describes:
What? A precise description of that which is changed or has been realised due to your communication and fundraising activities.
Who? For which target group, for whom is the communication or activity meant (including the size of the target group)?
When? What is the start and end date of the communication or fundraising activity?
Where? Where will the communication or fundraising activity take place?

Consider, by the way, when you are formulating a goal, that the transferral of knowledge and information is a lot easier than actually engaging the target group. But take it up step by step: you engage people by first informing and inspiring them. Once people have become interested, they will be more prepared to become involved.

Step 3: Target group and context

Who is your recipient? This is a very important thing to know in order for your outings to become effective. Your message needs to fit the person for which it was meant. The following questions could help you.

  1. Knowledge: what does my target group know (about the subject and about the foundation?)
  2. Attitude: What does the target group think (about the subject and about you?) Which values and which interests play a role?
  3. Behaviour: What does my target group do with the subject, with the media)?

And finally, what size is the target group?

The introduction to the target group can also be visualised by describing a specific person of your target group or by making a mood board. A mood board is a board on which you stick or draw those things that you associate with your target group.

Consider that it may be most effective to select a target group that identifies with your organisation’s mission. Think also about the people already involved with or donating to your organisation. What are their interests and preferences? You could try to approach people who have similar interests.

Other potential target groups are those who could function as a portal to new groups of donors/ supporters. For instance schools, service clubs (e.g. Rotary, Lions etc.), religious communities or tour operators.

Context

It is also important to get to know something about the context, the environment in which you would like to reach the target group with your communication outing. Are there other messages or broadcasters that could have an influence on your message?

Step 4: Message

When you have defined the target group and the context you can start thinking about the message: what is it that I would want to achieve with this target group? What does this target group want to know? Based on this, you can decide which information to share with a specific target group.

Your donor organisation will for example be inquiring about the results you have achieved and how your partner organisation has been spending the money. The local partner organisation wants to know in detail which plans you have and how you are going to cooperate. Volunteers will want to know how they could contribute. Individual donors need to know what you are going to spend their money on, et cetera.

In addition, it is also important to determine how you will formulate your message. A fundraising message needs to be to-the-point and candid, as well as induce action; you want people to contribute to your cause. When deciding on this, use the information available about frames and their usage. You need to select a frame that matches both your organisation and the worldview of the target group. That is when messages are most effective. Check your message also with your partner organisation. Do they agree with the message the way you want to broadcast it?

Step 5: Communication means

Fifth, you need to decide on the means that best fit the message you want to broadcast. For this, it is useful to have an overview of the different means of communication available and their respective properties. See also the Hand-out Communication plan with more than 100 means listed.

In determining the communication means, the following questions need to be answered: is the communication interpersonal or intended for a mass? Do you choose written or oral communication, or a combination of both? Do you choose verbal communication (for example, a text with an image or a radio fragment) or non-verbal communication (e.g. a speaker on TV whose facial expression and attitude are visible), or a combination of the two? What budget do you have available? Next, you may choose from the various digital and analog media within your reach, such as a web log, newsletter, press release, photo or video.

Always make sure that the choice of method of communication and the medium used are related to the worldview of your target group.

Step 6: Fundraising

Think about which fundraising activities you would like to carry out. Make sure they are linked to the interests of your target group. If your target group are people over 65, you may not want to organise a sponsor run. An art auction would perhaps be a good idea. In Chapter 7 [ed.: soon to follow], you will find many fundraising tips.

Step 7: Evaluation

When your communication and fundraising plan will have been implemented, you need to evaluate it. Organisations that receive donor funding are expected to have an insight in the impact their communication and fundraising has had. How many people have you reached? And what was the result?

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Evaluation is meant to gain an insight into the impact of your communication means and the communication process. It is a good way to learn from successes and challenges. Describe in your communication plan how you would like to evaluate it afterwards. You could, for instance, hand out an evaluation form at an event, or keep a good database of addresses.

Step 8: Final tips

Now the plan is ready, you can start implementing it. You will actually begin text writing, filming, publishing, reproducing, distributing, et cetera. Your partner organisation could of course help you with this. Also study the chapters Online media, Social Media and Use of images, where we extensively explain the most popular means of communication. Just before finishing, here are some final tips:

  • Get connected with a journalist at a regional newspaper.
  • Keep the message interesting, surprising and exciting enough for the target group to remember it.
  • Formulate the message in a positive way; do not focus on what we should not do, but instead on what we should.
  • Make clear what you expect from the target group by offering a perspective for action: what do you want your target group to do? Give money, sign a petition or sign up to become a volunteer?

In any case, also in the communication plan your partner is a useful stakeholder to cooperate with. Not just because of the knowledge and experience and the materials that they might have, but also to discuss with one another what you want to communicate, in which way and which activities you will employ to that end. Possibly there already is such a plan.

Quotes, photos, films and interviews with the founders, the employees and the target group of the project: these are the most engaging messages. Make agreements about the information and the images that you would like to receive from your partner organisation. What are they proud of and what would they like to share in their communication? Together, you can make sure that your communication is inspiring people!

You and your partner organisation could deepen your fundraising ties by undertaking action simultaneously. Also think about opportunities for fundraising in your project country itself.

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4. Linking up with existing initiatives

You are not alone in communication and wanting to get your message across to a large audience; there is a lot of competition. But you do not need to compete with others; perhaps you could also link up with existing initiatives that fit in with your project. It could save you costs as well as strengthen the project and communication.

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2015 is for example the year in which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be concluded and evaluated. The publicity surrounding this can be used to attract more attention to your project as well. Post a video about the MDGs and tell about the Goal that your project is contributing towards. Here is a recent video with the final updates about the progress of the MDGs.

You could also connect to news that is related to the project, such as news about the region in which the project is being carried out, or news about comparable topics. Many issues that people are campaigning for can be found on www.avaaz.org. There you can sign petitions and raise awareness by sharing information through social media or email.

In short: know what is going on around you and find the connections that will make you stronger!

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