For non-profits, the end of the year is often a time for reflecting on what worked and what didn’t during the previous year, and laying plans for the year to come. It’s vitally important that our organizations make plans that not only inspire, but that also lay out an effective fundraising strategy for our team to follow.
Whether you’re writing a whole new fundraising plan for the coming year, or simply setting up some basic goals for the next twelve months, here are four quick tips for better and more effective development planning:
#1 – Set Defined Goals and Responsibilities
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure fundraising success over the coming year… make sure that your plans include defined goals and responsibilities. Your plan needs to say exactly what you’d like to do, and who is responsible for doing it.
Thus, instead of saying, “we’d like to increase event revenue this coming year,” say, ”we will increase revenue at our annual gala by 10% this year. We will do so by following strategy X, Y, and Z. Staff member A will be responsible for implementing these strategies.” Goals and responsibilities increase accountability, they make expectations clear to staff, volunteers and board members, and they allow you to correct course if milestones aren’t met.
#2 – Test at Least One New Tactic
When it comes to development, does your organization do the same things year after year after year? Do you hold the same events, do the same mailings, have the same communications strategy?
This year, try at least one new thing. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. Test your donors’ response so you know for sure. If it works this year, keep it for next year. If not, then discard it and try something else. Trying something new each year adds variety for donors and prospects and helps you to keep growing your fundraising network. For more on trying and testing new tactics, read Analyzing Fundraising Strategies through the 80/20 Principle.
#3 – Don’t Have Sacred Cows
Many non-profits have “sacred cows,” events, mailings, campaigns or other fundraising activities that they have been doing for years, and continue to do just because everyone expects them to. Unfortunately, as often as not, non-profits could be making far more money with far less hassle by moving on to a new tactic.
The end of the year is a great time for your organization to take a look at the facts. Go over the revenue numbers, consider how much time is spent on each tactic, and decide on an item by item basis whether each fundraising tactic, strategy and event is worth keeping. Ending that yearly event or monthly small-dollar fundraiser might be hard… but if your non-profit can raise more money by switching to something else, you owe it to those you serve to make the hard decision.
#4 – Figure Out How to Visualize Your Goals
One thing I like to do is to create a way to visualize an organization’s fundraising goals and progress for the year. This can be done whether you are a one-person shop, visualizing for yourself… or a large development team visualizing for the entire group.
For example, if your goal for the year is to find 100 new prospects, put up a chart on a whiteboard so that you can track weekly, monthly, and yearly contacts with new potential supporters. If your goal as a team is to make 20 planned giving asks per month, put up a monthly thermometer that tracks the number of asks you have made.
Visualizing your progress towards your fundraising goals helps keep everyone focused and motivated.
Photo Credit: Juhan Sonin