By Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, Vice President – Annual Fund
One look at the Let’s Build Hope calendars, and we know that fiscal year planning is nipping at our heels. Those of us who love planning are doing our happy dance. If you don’t love planning, you still need to make it happen, even if your happy dance is only a small jig.
If you have a July-June fiscal year (as do the vast majority of nonprofits), the budgeting process begins as early as February, which means all fundraising planning has to be complete before budgets are finalized, usually in mid-spring.
But budgets should NEVER drive annual fundraising projections. How often do we hear that the Finance Office has provided the fundraisers with a magical number to raise? All the time! Does that make sense? Nope, not at all! Fundraising is not some sort of magic pixie dust we throw in the air to make money start falling from the sky. We must be careful planners, and this begins with annual planning.
Fundraisers need to vet their donors and numbers before including them in the budget. It’s not as simple as saying, “We can grow 10%, 15%, or 20% this year.” We need to see the path to those donors and dollars. There’s no guessing here – strategies and data must always back up the fundraising goal. That’s why the annual planning process is essential.
Set aside 1-2 days each February-March for a planning session with your development team – volunteers included! Try to go offsite so you can focus solely on planning – no distractions. Discuss all the development strategies used over the past year. Look at the 2–3-year trend lines too.
Evaluate each strategy, rating it to decide if it is a good use of fundraising time and effort. Keep the good stuff that raises more dollars and retains more donors, and decide which initiatives might not be working for your nonprofit anymore.
If you find a golf tournament grosses $100,000, costs $45,000, takes 800 staff hours, and the donor retention rate is 25%…you’ll need to have a hard conversation about whether to keep the event. You may find that a different fundraising strategy raises more dollars, builds stronger donor relationships, and is a better use of time. Just think…if you spent those 800 hours with your major donors, would you raise more money for your nonprofit? YES!
We must remember…as professional fundraisers, every hour of every day needs to be spent in the right ways to drive towards your fundraising goals and fund your mission. Anything that takes our eye off that goal should be re-examined during the annual planning session.
At Let’s Build Hope, we love annual planning days. If you need some guidance about planning for your next fiscal year, call (314) 716-2496 or send us an email – we’re here for you! If you’re lucky, you might just see our happy dance in person! 😊
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #WhatsYourPlan #AnnualPlanning #Budget #FYPlanning #FundraisingStrategies #AnnualPlanningHappyDance
By Meredith Friedman, CFRE, Senior Consultant
It’s February, and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. I think it’s great that there is a time set aside just so we can show our friends and family how much we love them. Many of us spend a great deal of time and put serious thought into figuring out the perfect gifts for loved ones.
You know where I am going with this: there’s no better time than February to show your Board members how much you love and appreciate all that they do for your organization.
So bring your development team together to come up with a plan for how to “love on” all the people that love you and your mission. Whether it’s a box of chocolate-covered strawberries or a bag of conversation hearts with a handwritten note delivered to their doorstep, make sure you include a note that tells them how much they mean to you and your organization and what their dedication means for the mission.
How else can you show love for your board? As consultants at Let’s Build Hope, one of the comments we hear most often from Board members is, “I don’t feel like I’m doing my job,” or “I’m not sure exactly what I should be doing.” Why not give the gift of clarity, too? Take this opportunity to update your Board Position Descriptions or Board Engagement Plan. Have conversations with each Board member about how they are feeling about their Board service. The extra love, attention, and thoughtfulness will help you build a long-lasting relationship.
George Sand said, “There is only one happiness in this life – to love and be loved.” Let’s make sure we let our Board members know how much we love them. Their love (and ours!) will make our missions and hearts soar!
Looking for ways to engage your Board members and love on them? Contact Let’s Build Hope today: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #LetsBuildHope #LoveYourBoard #LoveIsInTheAir!