Keys for Achieving Big Goals



It’s the time of year for Big Goals!  When we turn the calendar on a new year, it is natural to focus on the Big Picture.  Restless to achieve, and unwilling to settle into a routine, we turn our thoughts to the Annual Plan, the Deferred Dreams, and the Lofty Ambitions.  These items are capitalized because they are formal objects of our hopes, our imagination, and our energetic attention.  They loom large in our minds and in our hearts, and they shape the plans we make for the coming year.

It is good for fundraisers to have Big Goals.  There is always the next appeal that has to get in the mail, or the next fundraising event that needs to be planned, and then there are those three visits a week with donors and prospects that all fundraisers should be committed to.  But the Big Goals are the reason that you do all these other things.  So it is good to refresh your focus on the why of fundraising.  Here are a few suggestions for clarifying the Big Goals for your non-profit organization:

First, Big Goals are mission driven and mission focused.  Reread your organizational mission statement and be inspired by it again.  Think about some instances last year where you saw your mission transform the lives of some individuals, and put names and faces on those transformational moments.  Visualize that happening again in the new year to new people, and allow yourself to be thrilled by that potential.  Your mission changes lives; just imagine the lives that will be changed this year.

Second, establish a sense of urgency about your Big Goals.  Big Goals are big because they are important.  Take a look at the current needs of the population you serve, and clarify what has changed in recent months that has sharpened the crisis or made your case more urgent.  Imagine if your organization did not exist, and try to articulate the crisis that would result.

Third, lead a coalition to meet the urgent need and achieve the Big Goals.
Let others on your team know that you are serious about accelerating the impact of your mission on people’s lives. Remind them that they have the power to achieve that accelerated change and impact. Clarify roles and involve your team in making plans and carrying them out.

Fourth, communicate your Big Goals.
Let your donors and prospects in on your sense of urgency. Engage their imagination and their energy in the vision of transforming people’s lives. Let the impact of your work be known. Tell the stories showing the impact of their donations on individuals, families, and on the community. Sure, it is yet another restatement of your mission. But this time you are doing so at a time of year when we are all focused on the Big Goals, and after you have focused you and your team on the why of fundraising.

Have a great 2018! And may all of us achieve our Big Goals!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions


It’s a new year…time to get rid of the clutter!


Happy 2018!  The start of a new year comes an opportunity to begin again.  Whether you are one who makes resolutions or chooses to ignore the time-honored tradition, January offers us a chance to take stock.  Is there something you want to do differently in 2018?  Do you have a change you would like to make?  Here are a few simple steps to help you make some progress.

Name it.

Identify what it is you would like to change or do differently.   Do you want to be more organized?  Do you want to dedicate more time during the day to strategic work instead of “busy” work?  Or maybe, as my colleague David noted in last week’s blog, you strive to be better about meeting with donors this year?

Take stock.

Start by taking stock.  Allocate some time to determine what is standing the way of achieving your goal.  My guess is that you are experiencing some sort of “clutter”.

Perhaps you have…

  • a messy desk or briefcase
  • too many “to-do’s” in your head instead of in writing
  • been preoccupied with a business problem or personal issue
  • a tendency to respond to every email as it lands in your inbox

Move forward.

Whether the clutter is physical, mental or emotional, tackle the clutter.  Perhaps this means allocating a few hours to clean and organize your work space, taking time each day to identify your top 2-3 priorities for the day, addressing that problem or issue that is draining your resources or simply giving yourself permission to only respond to emails at designated times throughout the day, devise and execute a plan to deal with the clutter.  From my personal experience, acknowledging the issue and  a path forward eases the burden.  So get out there and tackle 2018 head-on!

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Taking the Long View


I was fortunate enough to see the musical Hamilton recently, and it reminded me to take the long view of our nation’s history.  Among its themes:  change is contentious, governing is difficult, and consensus is rare.

We fundraisers deal with change and governance in our organizations, and we seek consensus about our next moves.  If your organization has a history that spans several decades, I encourage you to take the long view of your fundraising efforts.

Maybe your CEO wants to know how s/he is doing with fundraising, and wonders whether the expectations that are set are realistic.  Maybe your board has become more active in recent years and needs some encouragement that their efforts are in fact paying off with improved fundraising results.  All of us—executives, volunteers, and fundraising staff—want to know whether the results we are achieving are positive for the organization.

Looking at an annual report will tell you some of what you want to know, but taking the long view will tell you more!  Here’s all you need to do.  Gather up all of your year-end numbers for the last twenty, thirty, or forty years.  Take only one number from each of those years:  total funds raised (at year end)Then make a second column, adjusted for CPI to 2017 dollars (you can find the formula for adjusting any calendar year into current year dollars anywhere on the internet).  From there, it is easy to group the results into decades, and to come up with a total for the decade and an average per year over each decade, all in 2017 dollars.

Fundraising is challenging work, but taking the long view may help your organization see the positive results that come from building your program over time.  As Alexander Hamilton would say:  “History has its eyes on you!”

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Countdown to the End of the Fiscal Year


With spring weather approaching (we can only hope!), I find myself gearing up to clean out closets, wash windows and get things in order at home.  I want to be ready to spend more time outside…running (because it’s finally light outside in the morning), working in the garden, riding bikes and watching my son play baseball.

At the office, I also find myself readying for a new season…and also counting down to the end of the fiscal year.  As most non-profits close the year on June 30, we are in the final stretch to meet our fundraising goals.  It’s a good time to review our budgets…and see where we may be up a little (cheers!) or still have a ways to go.  Now is a good time to take a hard look at each revenue bucket and make final adjustments to our plans to reach…or maybe even exceed our goals.

Is your Gala just around the corner?  Maybe it would be beneficial to add a few more visits with potential sponsors or underwriters.  Enlist your committee or board members and ask each one to bring an additional prospect to the table.   If you have a major gift program, make a mini pyramid of prospects and list the potential gifts that you could work to secure from now to the close of the fiscal year.

How about a spring mailing?  Gone are the days when not for profits only send out one mail appeal at the close of the calendar year.  I’ve found that a spring mailing that asks for support of a special project or has a matching component can go a long way.  Some years ago, one of my clients mailed packets of Forget Me Not seeds to lapsed donors.  Another organization asked their alumnae to make gifts in variations of 3’s… a number special to the organization.  All of these direct mail pieces were complimented by email blasts that were sent before and after the mailing and included options for giving online.  These ideas were creative and not overly complicated, they didn’t break the bank, and, they made it simple for the donor to make a gift.

As we tweak our year-end activities, it’s also perfect timing to begin thinking about our plans for the next fiscal year.  What worked well this year?  What didn’t?  What projects were on the list that we weren’t able tackle?  I always find that a short-term plan with clear goals and specific metrics helps guide me to the finish line.  It’s my short burst to complete the marathon of the fiscal year.  As you gear up for spring, both at home and at the office, enjoy the sunlit mornings, warmer weather and, cheers to your well-mapped out trek to close another successful year!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What Gets Measured Gets Done


In an earlier post back in January titled, Time to Get Moving, I offered that failing to actively pursue our personal goals means they are destined to simply linger in our pile of good intentions. Goals, like strategic plans, are great… but they only matter if you act on them.

One of my recurring personal goals this year is to be consistently active each and every week and I rely heavily on my Fitbit to help me with that. In fact, I check in on my progress at least two times a day and review my stats (steps, active minutes, miles…) on a month over month basis. I get that this is pretty basic, but being ever mindful of the benchmarks I have established to achieve my goal helps me stay focused and to make adjustments when I get off track. In short, the Fitbit dashboard holds me accountable and the data provided even motivates me to push myself in a competitive manner from one week/month to the next.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

I depend on my Fitbit dashboard so much in fact that, as I was helping a client revise their development plan last year and we were discussing accountability, the inspiration for the Development Activity Tracking Assistant (DATA) was born.

Using the key actions that this particular development director was going to take to accomplish her individual fundraising goals, I put together a very simple and straightforward dashboard for her to follow. As you can see when you click on the DATA link above, there is nothing overly complex or complicated about it. It is a one page tool that tracks the key daily/weekly/monthly activities she is holding herself accountable for to reach her funding goals. And, while it should come as no surprise, it is worth noting that the majority of the actions involve donor interactions and engagement.

Once you’ve taken a look, I invite you to build your own tracking assistant dashboard.

You may want to use some of the same activities and, more than likely, you’ll come up with a few alternatives that more effectively align with your development plan. Whatever you decide, I encourage you to keep it simple and only list the key activities on your DATA that are most essential to your work.

I would be thrilled if you would share with me how it turns out. Does it help keep you on track and focused on doing the things that you know you need to succeed? If my client’s experience is any indication, I’m confident that it will help you do just that.

by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Time to Get Moving



With the start of the New Year, many people are thinking about the various personal and professional goals they hope to achieve in 2017. I am purposely not using “New Year’s Resolutions” because at times, those seem to be associated with breaking bad habits rather than creating positive momentum. Our lists may include, increasing donor engagement, eating better, launching a planned giving program, organizing your family photo or music library, getting to know your colleagues on the program staff better, etc.

In much the same way my colleague Susan championed development plans in her post here last week, establishing goals and associated benchmarks for your personal and professional development is absolutely the first step in bringing about positive change. Way to go!

Once those goals are in place however, the key to gaining the momentum needed to achieve your goals is many times the hardest part. You’ve got to Get Moving.

Noun: mo·men·tum \mō-ˈmen-təm, mə-\

“the impetus gained by a moving object”

Coming off the holidays and year-end, our focus may shift towards catching up, maybe cleaning up database files, looking ahead to an upcoming event or any of the other myriad of activities necessary for us to successfully execute our development plans. And those are all important tasks. However, if we fail to also make a concerted effort on our personal goals, they are destined to simply linger in our pile of good intentions.

We’ve got to get after them, right away. If you have more than one new goal for the year and taking them all on right now feels overwhelming, just select the one or two that you can act on immediately. Schedule those meetings with your board members, call your rock star event volunteers from last year (just to say, “Thanks again!”), take the stairs at the office / go for a mid-day walk every day or pull that book off your nightstand and spend time reading it vs. Facebooking.

Just like for those of us in the northern states (and apparently for some folks in the south this season as well) we know that a great way to stay warm in the winter is to keep moving. Consider that an added bonus to your efforts. Take it from a once serial procrastinator, your progress will fuel your desire and ability to reach your goals and the momentum you experience along the way will have a positive impact on your personal and professional life. Here’s to a great 2017!

by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The Holy Grail of Grant Writing (excerpts from In the Trenches: Grantsmanship)

30348227 - a road sign with objectives goals words on sky background

This is one in a series of excepts from HUB Philanthropic Consulting’s Expert Grant Guru, Heather Stombaugh, GPC, CFRE from her latest book.  In this excerpt, Heather defines goals and objectives and their roles in grant writing.

 Part II: Chapter 7

 What will you accomplish with your proposal goals and objectives?

Now that you have identified the problem and established your rationale for addressing it, the next step in developing your proposal is to describe to the grant maker how you intend to solve the problem. While you develop this section, it is important to keep in mind that each section of a grant proposal builds on the previous section.

  • Goals are the statements of general intent that guide your project. They are broad, abstract and generally cannot be measured.
  • An objective is a measurable step that you take towards achieving a goal. Objectives are concrete, narrow in focus and can be measured.

Objectives can generally be categorized as either “process objectives” or “outcome objectives.” Process objectives focus on the delivery of services or the implementation of a program that is needed to achieve results. Outcome objectives focus on demonstrating results. As you develop objectives, keep in mind that the sections of the proposal are not independent of each other, but are connected and should align with each other.

How will you ensure that the sections of your proposal align with each other?