“Everything I know about fundraising I learned from the Peanuts Gang,” blogged Daniel Neel, president of The Fundraising Resource Group. You have to try some new tactics if you want to actually kick the football this year, Neel suggests. You have to develop a plan and a strategy, not just hope you’ll see the Great Pumpkin. You have to build relationships that will keep donors coming back.

Develop a fundraising plan.

This plan should include as many strategies to raise money as possible—online, email and “snail” mail, special events, innovative projects, bequests and endowments, sales and grants. Tips and examples of all of these are included in this special issue of Friends Forward.

Brainstorm ways to reach more potential donors.

Consider individuals as well as businesses (local and national), other nonprofit organizations that may be willing to partner with you, and foundations.

Make a compelling call to action.

Friends groups support some of the most beautiful, environmentally sensitive and ecologically valuable lands and habitats in the entire country. Can you express that in a concise, compelling and inspirational pitch? Create both a sense of urgency and a lasting impression, advises fundraising consultant George Ivey in a National Environmental Education Foundation Webinar.

Acknowledge all gifts promptly.

Keep donors updated throughout the year. Let them know that their money is being used effectively and in accordance with their expectations.

Be willing to try a new approach.

When the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008, Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN, had to switch gears quickly on capital campaign plans. Friends president Sue Hix tells the story on page 4.

Embrace online fundraising.

For many Friends groups, the newest approach may be online. Friends groups are using Facebook and Twitter, Flickr and electronic newsletters. But are you making the most of opportunities to raise money online? Network for Good has some tips on page 11.

Online fundraising didn’t exist when Beverly Heinze–Lacey wrote Building Your Nest Egg: An Introduction to Raising Funds for National Wildlife Refuge Support Group in 2000. But her analogy to a bird’s nest remains apt. Birds—and Friends—must have a plan with an expected outcome, use a variety of intertwined materials to make a solid structure, build relationships and nurture the result.