What is A Fundraising Calendar?
This post is part of my Fundraising Planning series, where I walk through different aspects of fundraising planning to support organizations in preparing and building capacity for successful fundraising. Check out the previous fundraising needs post, and stay tuned for how to find funding opportunities, and more!
Fundraising calendars are an invaluable tool that help to keep track of your organization's fundraising efforts. If you haven't already set one up for the year, now's the time! This post provides an overview of the different components of a fundraising calendar.
What is a fundraising calendar?
A fundraising calendar is a calendar version of your fundraising plan for the year that you use to track critical information regarding your fundraising activities. It includes all sources of funding and focuses on when you are going to engage in which fundraising activities. It also serves as documentation of what you have done, so that in the years to come, you can look back and see what and how much you asked for from particular funding sources, and to what level you’ve been successful.
Parts of a fundraising calendar
A fundraising calendar looks different depending on an organization's needs and the amount of fundraising activities you engage in each month. The following includes the common parts of a fundraising calendar.
It's important to incorporate due dates into your fundraising calendar, including external and internal due dates. For example, if a grant application is due June 15th, your organization may want to set an internal due date of June 8th to allow for plenty of time to complete revisions. If you have multiple people in your organization that need to review the document, you may even have an initial draft date of June 1st or earlier to make sure your team is ready to submit. I strongly recommend having drafts completed at least one, but preferably two or three, days before the submission deadline as there is always a possibility of computer issues, difficulties with the submission system, etc.
Some due dates may be less strict, including grant applications with rolling deadlines, sponsorship requests for your events, etc. For these items, it is still important to have an internal due date on the calendar so nothing gets overlooked.
Funding opportunity and related information
It's important to identify all anticipated funding opportunities in your calendar, as well as any related information about the funder that is important for your organization to track. This may include the name and contact information of the program officer associated with a potential funder, a web address, instructions to apply, and/or where and for how much they have funded in the past. Regardless of your organization’s fundraising systems, these pieces of information are helpful when it comes time to develop a request.
Your fundraising calendar should include the amount your organization is asking of a particular funder, as well as what, specifically, your ask will be (e.g., general operating funds, program scholarships, sponsorship for an event, etc.). These items will help you identify if you are asking for enough support in each area of need.
Next steps, date submitted, and notes
Having information and notes regarding next steps needed for the funding opportunity will help you track what still needs to attention to provide the best chance for a request being successful. Including the date submitted will also help you know when to follow-up with the funder if you haven't heard back about the request. I find that including a date submitted also serves as a kind of box you can happily check off once the request has been completed.
Outcome and follow up
It is important to track the outcome of each funding request or activity, not only to track progress, but also to improve your organization's future fundraising process. In the outcome column, I typically have three options: Approved, Pending, Denied/Declined. Knowing whether something is pending versus approved is critical for your fundraising planning and understanding your up-to-date fundraising needs. Tracking your outcomes will help you plan in the future, as you may not want to ask a foundation that denied your request for the same program or project or amount the following year. When tracking outcomes, be sure to include the amount funded as well.
Some organizations also like to use their fundraising calendar to track reporting and donor appreciation actions. If your organization engages in a lot of fundraising activities, this may not be the best solution– having too much information in the same spreadsheet could mean donor appreciation or reporting falls through the cracks! However, for smaller organizations, this can often help serve as a reminder to submit on-time grant reports, follow-through on corporate sponsor recognition, and thank individual donors.
Ready to develop a fundraising calendar? Check out How to Develop a Fundraising Calendar, which includes a free template you can download for your organization!
I’m Amanda Wallander Roberts, MSSW, a consultant passionate about building fundraising and evaluation capacity with social organizations. I’ve helped over 60 social organizations fundraise and evaluate programs, including raising over $22million, and developing more than 50 logic models, evaluation plans, and process maps. Learn more about my services or contact me for support today!