How to Build a Philanthropic Plan

Over the past several months I have been participating in the mentoring program with my local chapter of AFP. The majority of the meetings with my mentee have focused on helping her articulate a case for support and building a philanthropic plan for the organization’s integrated strategic plan.

To extend the value of the work done with my mentee to others looking to improve their strategic planning skills, we will  spend the next several weeks breaking down the parts of a philanthropic plan. The philanthropic plan typically consists of five basic parts. These parts build on one another as your plan progresses to give your strategy clarity. The early sections give detail so that the latter sections can concentrate on providing a concise road-map of actionable items to achieve your development goals.

As with grammar, these parts are listed below to simply to provide structure and a general guideline, but rules are made to be broken (provided you understand the rules and the reason for them). These parts include:

  • Organizational Context – mission, vision, history, values
  • Philanthropic Environment – fundraising resource audit, SWOT analysis
  • Philanthropic Goals – strategic, financial, timetable
  • Philanthropic Strategy – cases for support (audience, case, and implementation)
  • Benchmarks – staff performance metrics, strategic, financial

Next: Organizational Context

About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler, CFRE, ACFRE has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy. His experiences working with international nonprofit organizations, extensive international travel, together with his graduate work at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and leadership roles with local nonprofits combine to produce his expertise in this area. He’s also a big baseball fan.

Mohler is the Assistant Vice President for Development at Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to his current role, he held key roles with The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Advanced Certified Fundraising Professional (ACFRE), and serves AFP at an international level, including his current role chairing the publishing committee for the AFP Fund Development Series.


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