FRDNY: Interview with Jennifer Flowers

By Pinky Vincent, Police Athletic League

How to create an effective annual plan after a nonprofit develops a strategic plan? At Fundraising Day in New York, Jennifer Flowers, Founder and CEO, Accreditation Guru, Inc., will respond to this question at her session aptly titled: What’s the Plan?

In an interview with Pinky Vincent of the Police Athletic League, Jennifer shared 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.  

At Fundraising Day New York, I will speak about why every organization should take part in strategic planning and who should be involved in that process. We will also look at development’s role in strategic planning and then discuss the agency-wide annual plan. I will also cover ways that the development team can work as an advocate during the strategic planning process.

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:

Become A Member

AFP NYC offers a variety of valuable member benefits to help you further your fundraising career.