Back in August, one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school visited. Jon moved to Japan not long after graduate school and hasn’t lived in the states for more than twenty years. While he was visiting this summer, he drove around a good part of Georgia, connecting with other friends as well. His Japanese cell phone plan didn’t offer an affordable option for data connectivity while traveling internationally so he was without GPS navigational capabilities on his phone. In twenty years of infrequent visits, the roads of our state have evolved in ways that diverge significantly from his memory.

Over lunch one day, he regaled me and another one of our mutual close friends with tales of how, without either GPS or old-fashioned printed maps, he managed to get to some pretty remote destinations in the north Georgia mountains. As we listened in amazement, it sounded like we were hearing stories about a pre-Columbian explorer navigating by the appearance of the North Star or the direction of the setting sun.

As he traveled, my friend had a destination in mind, but no detailed plan on how he would get there. His trip was full of delays and false starts. He did manage to arrive, but not when or how he had expected. Jon succeeded because he is one of those “enjoy the journey not the destination” type souls who survives largely on charm and a good, gentle disposition that the universe generally rewards with goodwill and grace.

Jon’s mode of travel hasn’t changed much in the three-plus decades I’ve known him.  Hearing about his summer travels, I was reminded of a college road trip he and I shared. Back then, he drove a car that didn’t have a functional speedometer. Periodically, we would pull up alongside another car and put a sign on the window asking, “How fast are we going?”  It never failed to elicit a laugh from fellow travelers, and, on occasion, someone would reply with helpful pantomime that prevented us from the snare of south Georgia speed traps.

A nonprofit trying to raise more money without a development plan can be a lot like a Jon Bauer road trip—there’s a destination in mind, but the route to the destination is fuzzy and relies on faith and good fortune. Unexpected detours and delays mean you might reach your friend’s cabin long after dinner has been served. Along the way, you might head down dead ends or wind up wasting time and money on unnecessary detours. And you can get stuck in a speed trap.

If your organization’s need for revenue is like my friend’s holiday and your cause has the luxury to take your time and enjoy the ride, traveling the fundraising roads without a navigational system or map is a great idea. If, however, your organization has a fundraising imperative and you need to hit your goal in a timely way, a development plan is essential.

Don’t know how to create a development plan? Don’t know how to get started or what to include? Let us help you create the fundraising road map you need. Contact us about creating a customized plan for your organization.

Image Source: Bigstock.com/karenroach – Used with permission.

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