Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season.
I am very excited to be at the start of a new year and it’s a great opportunity for one of my favorite activities – planning.
Last fall, I wrote a series of blog posts about getting organized for year-end fundraising season and I had a few requests for a post on planning for the year. That’s what we’ll talk about here today. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Reflect
The first step in a great planning process is to reflect. Take out a piece of paper or your notebook and write down your answers to the following questions:
– What were our big wins in 2016?
– What lessons did you learn from the wins?
– What were our big losses (failures) in 2016?
– What lessons did you learn from the losses?
Answering these questions will help you identify your fundraising program’s strengths and weaknesses. You can in turn use that information to make better decisions for 2017.
I’ll give you an example from The Storytelling Non-Profit. In 2016, I directly trained over 3,200 non-profit professionals through workshops, webinars, and online classes like The Storytelling Non-Profit Master Class. Wow! Training that many people is hands down a huge win.
Step 2: Set Your Goal
After you have done some reflecting, it’s time to think about what your big picture goal will be for 2017. In a fundraising program, this will likely be a hard number. I recommend you pick one big goal to focus on because it will give you better clarity and direction when it comes time to think about the projects you need to do to support that goal. Plus, if you find yourself doing work that is not moving you toward your goal, you can evaluate whether or not that is actually worth doing.
Another tip – put your goal somewhere visible. It is incredibly powerful to see your goal each and every day as a reminder of what you are working toward.
Step 3: Work Backward from Your Goal
Once you’ve got your goal in place, the next best thing you can do is reverse engineer how you are going to reach that goal. Here are some things to think about:
– What campaigns or appeals will you run and when? How much are they each estimated to raise?
– What is your major gifts pyramid for the year? Who are your prospects?
– What will you do to upgrade monthly donors’ gifts?
Depending on the type of fundraising work that you are doing, you might have other questions to ask yourself.
When I’m creating a work back plan for a goal, I like to use an Excel spreadsheet to literally list out every task that I need to do. Then I will start assigning tasks to people as well as deadlines for the tasks.
Step 4: Start Project Planning
Now this step takes us into more granular planning, but it is worthwhile to think about doing now. The gist of why I recommend doing is because it helps you solidify your plans. There are many ways you can go about doing this.
– Create quarterly plans. There is research that suggests working in 90 day plans, rather than full year plans are more manageable and motivating.
– Create monthly plans. You can list the big projects and milestones for each month.
Pick a method that works best with how you currently work.
If you need a planning template, I’ve created a year-at-a-glance template for you. I personally use this template and keep it on my office bulletin board to that I can easily see what is happening throughout the year.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What are you doing to plan for 2017?