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Creating an integrated development plan

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Kay Grace

Kay Grace

By Kay Sprinkel Grace

 “Getting it all together,” something we are always promising ourselves to do, has huge implications for those responsible for managing a development office.

Even small organizations begin to operate in silos after a while — the campaign silo, the annual fund silo, the planned giving silo.

Why not take those silos, turn them on their sides, and make them into a pipeline through which the donor enjoys a seamless journey from point of entry, or first gift, to point of exit, or planned gift?

An integrated development plan can do just that for your organization.

Here’s what you need to do.

* Analyze the intersections among your various development programs and work together to lower costs and raise impact.  Cultivation and stewardship, for example, serve the same purpose but different audiences – and think how compelling it is at your events to have committed donors seated next to those still trying to make up their minds.

* Remember that the center of all development programs is the donor, and understand that the path a donor follows through your organization should be based on the donor’s needs, not yours.

Meeting the donor’s needs and interests helps break down the silos. No need to protect your annual fund donor from the capital campaign: He or she is already invested and may want to have the opportunity to make a special additional investment.

* Believe that working as a team to advance or engage the donor in the most appropriate way – regardless of where the gift ends up in the organization – not only gives joy to the donor, but increases the capacity of the organization to have an impact.

When we stop worrying about who gets the gift or the credit, we rise to a level where we see the broadest vision and the donor’s role in achieving it. Change your evaluation structure so that those who advance donors into new programs or the next giving level are rewarded and recognized.

* Finally, create and implement a truly integrated development plan – one where all your donor and fund development activities, and all the ways you invite donor investment, are integrated into a single document — the primary purpose of which is to create lasting relationships with your donors and reduce the competition over gifts.

You will enjoy great results when you integrate your development plan and work together to maximize the donor’s experience and sense of investment.


Kay Sprinkel Grace, founder and principal of Transforming Philanthropy, is the author Beyond Fund Raising, High Impact Philanthropy and other books, and has been on the faculty of The Fund Raising School in the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University since 1990.

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