As you plan in your endings, so shall it be in your beginnings.

If you’re among the thousands of nonprofit leaders staring into a June 30 fiscal year-end, you’re probably not thinking beyond the next two weeks. I see you out there – hanging on and hoping to finish out FY13 with your pride intact. Planning for the fiscal year to come is likely the last thing on your mind.

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But there’s no time like today to start preparing for tomorrow. Or so suggest the folks over at the Foundation Center. They’re touting a year-round planning process borrowed from the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and which promises to keep your fundraising program moving in a winning direction.

I encourage you to carve a few minutes out of your year-end rush to read the article. If that’s more time than you can spare today, here’s a short-hand version of the advice offered.

DON’T STOP THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW

With all you have to do today, it’s tempting to leave tomorrow to care for itself. But in fundraising (as in most of life), every present action has a corresponding future reaction. Year-round success in raising funds depends upon connecting the dots between now and then, which is the point of the following steps.

  1. Gather input, wherever and from whomever.  When formulating a fundraising plan, lean on your friends. Program staff, board members, and other volunteers can bring fresh insights and new leads.
  2. Set data driven goals. Look at last year’s income (a 3-year review is even better), bracket out bequests and other gifts that aren’t repeatable, add a modest increase (3 to 5 percent), and viola, you have a goal.
  3. Consider non-monetary assets. Think outside the dollar sign. Seek to maximize the networks, expertise, and passion that board, staff, or volunteers have to offer. These can be more precious than gold.
  4. Integrate fundraising with other activities. Your fundraising plan should fit hand-in-glove with your annual action plan. (For readers of Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, this one should have a familiar ring.)
  5. Select a few key strategies. Less, done well, trumps trying to be all things to all possible donors, and especially in small to mid-size fundraising shops. It’s all about ROI.
  6. Increase your revenues. Think about activities you might add this next year to bump your fundraising returns. But not too many (see #5 above).
  7. Identify your prospects. To be even more precise in your forecasting, make a chart showing the names of potential donors, followed by the amount you think you can request, who will do the asking, and when.
  8. Make a fundraising calendar. Mapping out the year insures that the urgent won’t crowd out the important.
  9. Recruit volunteers to help. There’s no sense in going it alone. Nor will you need to If you present your fundraising plan as achievable, simple, and actually fun. Put on a smile and you’ll attract those “many hands that make light work.”

Whether you’re still turning every stone in search of a few more gifts or already have your FY13 fundraising goal in the bag, I encourage you to taje time to plan for FY14. Trust me. A year from now you’ll be glad you did.

For more articles with a fiscal year-end focus, see:

4 strategies for turning year-end stress into fundraising success

Move your fundraising beyond the insanity of the same-old, same-old

Act now to break the insanity cycle in fundraising

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