How to Align Your Programs and Fundraising

Managing nonprofit programs is difficult. Sustaining those programs, through fundraising or earned revenue, is even more difficult. If you're having trouble making sense of all of your programs, strategies, fundraising initiatives, and marketing goals, try using a campaign / program alignment matrix.

The campaign / program alignment matrix is a simple tool to help you ensure that your portfolio of campaigns or programs aligns with the key areas of your organization.

Campaign / Program Alignment Matrix

To get started, create a list of all of your campaigns or programs. Do a quick check of your list to see if the number of programs seems reasonable. If you are a small organization and are managing a dozen programs you likely are stretching yourself too thin. List those programs in the columns of a table, like the one shown below.

Next, think about all the different areas of your organization. Your mission, your strategies, fundraising operations, marketing goals, membership objectives, and so on. Create a list of all of the key areas that are critical to your organization. List your organizational criteria in the rows of the table.

Once you have identified your programs and your organizational criteria, fill in the details. List your specific organizational strategies, types of funders (or fundraising strategies), marketing goals, membership requirements, and anything else that is critical to your organization. If you are having difficulty filling in the details of a particular section, like strategies or fundraising, that's a sign that area needs additional thought and clarification.

Case Study: Environmental Protection Nonprofit

To see how you to apply the campaign / program alignment matrix, let's look at an example of a hypothetical nonprofit with a mission focused on environmental protection. Jordan, the Executive Director, wants to make sure that her programs align with the other key areas of her organization. Her team operates four programs: 

  1. Clean water standards
  2. Marine debris
  3. Farming pollution
  4. Toxic cleanup

Jordan's strategies for accomplishing her mission are education, policy, and community action. Her fundraising operations focus on individuals, foundations, corporate, and events. Her team is still working to develop their marketing plan, but their high level goals are to increase awareness, understanding, and engagement. And they have decided that it is important to provide their members with volunteer opportunities.

Once Jordan lists all of her programs and organizational criteria in the rows and columns of her table, she can then evaluate each program along those dimensions. If there are criteria that are not addressed by any program, Jordan can see the gap and decide what changes should be made. 

Thinking About Your Organization

The campaign / program alignment matrix is meant to help you evaluate and balance your portfolio of programs. The organizational criteria that you include should be relevant to your mission and goals. Not every program has to check every box. But each key area of your organization, like fundraising or marketing, should be addressed by at least one of your programs. As your organization grows, this tool can be a helpful way to ensure your team is on the same page and your programs and fundraising are aligned.