Stop, Look and Evaluate: 3 Things to Consider for 2017
It is hard to believe that 2017 is almost here. Where did the time go? Many of us had a fiscal year that started in July 2016, so we are at halftime in this fundraising year. Others are just beginning a new calendar year filled with hope and possibilities. In my case, we are finishing the first quarter of a four-quarter fundraising fiscal year.
Wherever you are in the fundraising calendar continuum, you should take a moment to stop, look and evaluate before you jump without a parachute into 2017. Did you create a fundraising plan prior to your 2016 fundraising year launch? Did you plan to check your progress at halftime of your fundraising year? What do you anticipate the last half of the fundraising year in 2017 will bring? Do you anticipate making adjustments to your fundraising plan during the year in progress?
Here are three things to consider.
1. Fundraising Plans
Marcella Vitulli, writing for EveryAction, noted that every campaign should have a fundraising plan in place before you attempt to raise a single dollar.
"The best fundraising strategic plan tells a complete, organized and analytics-based story that your team can actually use to help your campaign be more successful," Vitulli writes.
According to Vitulli, the necessary elements that would have allowed you and your team to be prepared in 2016 to continue success into 2017 are:
- Making your case: You need to have a foundational case statement that reinforces your organization’s mission, provides emotional stories and states how resources will ensure the organization will reach its mission-led objectives.
- Choosing your team: "Your fundraising team should bring together a mix of nonprofit pros with complementary skills and align them around your strategic plan," Vitulli notes. Utilize staff, volunteers, board and others to identify, rate and screen prospects.
- Sizing up your assets: Determine which programs you should showcase as fundraising priorities and where your organization shines as it serves to meet community needs.
- Exploring funding source prospects: Determine what approaches to fundraising—direct mail, grants, special events, major gifts etc.—you will take and what sources yield the greatest solicitation return. Corporations, foundations or individuals? Or a combination of all sources?
- Understanding your supporter base: Evaluate your human capital to see who the audience is for your various appeals and plan for how to appeal to them.
- Ready, set, goals: You must have outcomes and goals with respect to money to be raised. "If you notice your campaign objectives are a little too general, remember that they should be SMART—or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely," Vitulli writes.
2. Performance Reviews
Mid-year performance reviews allow companies to proactively assess their staffs and set guidelines for employees. With a mid-year review, supervisors in the nonprofit arena can lay out expectations and offer suggestions for improvement. By evaluating halftime financial results, for example, you will have time to compare results to previous year results, evaluate the state of the economy, critique donor trends and adjust your fundraising plan for the 2017 segment of the campaign.
3. Trends for 2017
In an article for @pay, writer Jamie L. offered up nine fundraising trends to consider when adjusting or evaluating your fiscal-year halftime game plan.
- Matching gifts will become more automated.
- Crowdfunding won’t just be for creative projects anymore.
- Nonprofits will become more tactical about their websites.
- Fundraising software will be more integrated.
- Donors will increasingly use mobile giving channels.
- Organizations will use previously underused formats to engage donors.
- The leadership crisis will become a major focus for organizations.
- Nonprofits will leverage expert advice for specific fundraising campaigns.
- Organizations will use text-to-give for more than just events.
The bottom line is 2017 is here. Take a proactive approach with your fundraising program and evaluate where you have been, where you currently are and where you need to go to achieve success in the new year. Fundraising is a continuous cycle and never stops. Create a sound fundraising plan, evaluate your personnel resources, be prepared for the unexpected and do not be afraid to make changes along the way. In this business, you will always have financial goals to reach. Your organization depends upon your fundraising success. May the philanthropic tide rise for all of us in 2017
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last nine years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 25 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.