Fail to plan; plan to fail


Lillian Brown, Development Support Officer - Fundraising & Project Development at VAL, explains the importance of planning for fundraising


Poor planning can result in projects that don't work. But sometimes they never get to that stage because the funders detect a lack of planning and reject the applications.

For both of these reasons it's worth spending time on the design of your project, even though you may be keen to get to the stage of finding sources of funding. 

Working through some kind of funding strategy framework, like the one above, can help you determine why you need to decide your own priorities before you start looking at funders. Your objectives, the project's costs and any deadlines you have for when you need the money will dictate the funders you approach.

If you're tempted to start at the bottom of the diagram and be funder-led instead of starting at the top, with your aims, the example below may help to show the problems of this approach.


Fundraising planning case study

A group heard that their local garden centre was offereing free gardening tools. They hadn't been planning a gardening project, but decided the opportunity was too good to miss. They got the tools and started on a community garden, but then realised they needed somewhere to store them, insurance for the tools and the volunteers who used them, plants, compost and so on.

It ended up costing them money and took a lot of their time away from the things they had planned to do.


Stick to your aims and objectives and let your organisation's mission help you decide what funding to apply for, or not.