Most not-for-profits operate on a fiscal year that ends June 30. It’s around this time when the weather begins to turn (we Chicagoan’s never thought it was going to happen!), the morning light appears sooner and we have the urge to finally be outside and enjoy the sunny, warm days!
While we aren’t outside enjoying a walk, working in our gardens or catching a baseball game, we are inside our offices busy preparing and planning for our year ahead.
What things must be accomplished before we close our year? Perhaps a spring appeal to lapsed donors, a final spring event to orchestrate or a few more visits to get in with donors to secure or maybe surpass our financial goal.
As we creep closer to our year end, we start to fine-tune our “to do” list for the coming year. We begin to really look at what is on the docket for next year. I’d like to offer a suggestion…and that is…to take some time to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. Did you meet with as many donors as you had planned? What happened on some of those visits to guide you in preparing for visits for next year? How did your materials work? As you tweak your stewardship materials, what needs to be changed? What resonated with those you met with that you’d like to enhance and what didn’t hit the mark?
There may be big things that you didn’t get to because your plate is so full. I know that one area that many feel we could spend more time on is our work with major gifts. We know that this is the most cost effective approach to fundraising as we engage and inspire donors to commit to our missions. And yet, we often get swept away into other areas of our work and time is taken away from this crucial work with individual donors.
So, I challenge you! Take a hard look at the events you manage or oversee and really study the bottom line. Are they worth the time and energy of you and perhaps your staff? If the bottom line of the event isn’t fruitful, does the event have some other key objective that is fulfilled?
Do you have a robust grant program that takes a lot of your time? Try and put pen to paper to determine the costs associated with your time and perhaps that of other staff leaders. Is it more cost effective to outsource grants? Hire a part time grant-writer?
These are just some areas to consider, and I encourage you to think boldly about what you can remove or adjust from your plan to become more strategic and focused on bringing in major gifts to support the mission of your organization.
I wish you a terrific, renewed and energized plan for your new fiscal year – and, finally, Happy Spring!
by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions