While serving on the board of a Philadelphia college I raise the issue of a development plan for the college at a development committee meeting. The committee chair asked, "How much would that cost, you know to have a consultant help us create one?" I replied, "From my experience, approximately $30,000, but as a board member I'll do it pro bono." Time consuming as it is a development plan is not difficult to create. Development should be strategic, dynamic, and assertive. To be strategic, planning is necessary.
Peter F. Drucker, the late not-for-profit business consultant, seems to have developed the most useful outline for planning. After establishing the "Key Result Areas," a "Goal" is chosen for each, "Objectives" written for each goal, the measurable component of success. "Initiatives" are then developed and the "Actions" to be taken follow, complete with dates to be used as targets.
Thinking back on these plans it was surprising to notice how often the basis for content centered on what has been called "Necessities for a Strong Development Program." While consulting in Memphis, Tennessee some years ago, these were handed to me. These "Necessities" covered the gamut of the development function: the plan, time distribution, duties, areas of concentration, tweaking operations, and etc. These are certainly "strategic", but also "dynamic," and "assertive."
By this time you have probably noticed the absence of "fundraisers," you know candy sales, gift wrap, cheese cakes, and of course the ubiquitous silent auction and banquet. These are not development work. They are "fundraisers," have a relatively low return investment ratio therefore certainly not "cost effective!" Overall the "ROI" is not work. The question to ask those who use these methods is, "When was the last time your college called and asked you to buy a cheese cake?" The answer is always the same, "Never." I rest my case.
Create a development plan with a consultant, if you feel the need, and establish a "real" development department to begin raising meaningful amounts of capital. For me nothing works better than identifying target markets, researching for possibilities, cultivating the marketplace, and then with hand out-stretched, asking for a gift. Remember the biblical admonition found in Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9, "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (KJV)