As the heat goes up and our campuses, colleagues, and donors leave for vacations, the workload in most fundraising offices tends to lighten a bit. The traditional non-profit fiscal year ends on June 30, and by now most of us have an idea of where our final numbers will be, even as we try to squeeze in a last appeal or giving push to close out our fiscal year.
This more relaxed atmosphere presents us with a great opportunity to plan for the next fiscal year. Organizations with fundraisings plans generally raise more money and it helps to keep us as development professionals accountable to our goals. You can find plenty of resources online attesting to the importance of a fundraising plan, but today I want to get into several things to consider when formulating it.
First, data. You don’t need a statistician to do a hardcore analysis or predictive modelling on your data to find useful results from it. Things as simple as the median or mode gift will tell you a lot about your annual fund population and what you should be asking for. This can be found pretty easily using Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet software. Additionally, you can learn a lot about your donor population’s interests by seeing where small donors give their money. Odds are that your larger donors probably have similar interests, and gift volume shows trends that total dollar amount might miss because of confounding variables. If an area has large gift volume but a small dollar amount, this typically means that you haven’t been asking major donors to fund it as much as you could.
Next, calendaring. Planning out when you are going to do things is vitally important so you can keep yourself on track and accountable throughout the coming year. If you work with institutional funders such as corporations and foundations, this could mean putting the funding cycles of the organizations you want to ask for money on your calendar. If you work in annual fund this means planning out your mailings and electronic outreach, and if you work in major giving, this means looking through your portfolio and seeing if there are individuals who are overdue for a meeting.
Finally, setting goals. While this is a conversation that does not involve only one person, having an open conversation with your boss about what the monetary goals are is important for the organization and for you personally. Looking to see what you think you can reasonably accomplish and by when will allow you to have a successful year and allow you to achieve great results for the causes that you represent.