10 Steps To Making the Most Out of the Final Months of 2021
Since March 2020, we certainly have been in uncharted waters. We’ve faced a pandemic that has killed nearly five million people around the world, including 728,000 in the United States, and stressed our health care, economic, and other systems. We’ve also dealt with the issues of diversity, inclusion, and civil discourse.
With so much changing, including much of our day-to-day work activities, it seems like we have been in a time warp since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet, the generosity of Americans has remained strong, with 2020 hitting the highest level of philanthropic support ever, according to Giving USA.
Here we are in the final months of 2021, full of hope that the pandemic will soon be behind us, and that all Americans can once again enjoy the pursuit of happiness and live in the promise of liberty and justice for all that is the hallmark of life in the United States.
Philanthropy represents the best of the human spirit, and we are honored to share the joy of giving and help to grow it among the organizations we serve and beyond.
Here are 10 steps to help ensure that your organization – and you and your team – finish 2021 on a high note.
- Check for lapsed donors, and reach out to them as personally as possible. Not just 2021 year to date, but include 2020 as well.
- Make an extra effort to show appreciation for your development/advancement team. These past 18 months have been exhausting, so be sure that each member of your team has a plan for professional growth, and you are investing in educational opportunities for them.
- Benchmark your progress toward plans and goals for this fiscal year.
- Benchmark your organization’s strategic plan. If you don’t have a current plan, begin discussion of a planning process in 2022.
- Take a day away from the office and the phone to review your 2022 plans.
- Ensure each of your donors, at all levels, receives a personal thank-you message between now and the end of the year. More than once is even better!
- Secure two strong new mission impact stories each month through the end of the year. Choose stories that show donors the difference they are making.
- Reach out to each of your organization’s senior staff and board members, thank them, and remind them how important they are to your philanthropic success.
- Review your MOVES management plans for your organization’s top 200 donors/prospective donors, and be sure you have clear goals for each. Check in with the appropriate staff and volunteers for updates and encouragement to take the next steps.
- You are critical to your team and your organization’s success. A healthy organization needs healthy leaders and a positive culture. Take time out to take care of yourself. Leverage your calendar by planning ahead and maintaining blocks of time for self-care. Do what I am doing: Re-evaluate your diet, and think long term. And be sure to take time to get away and recharge yourself before ringing in 2022.
Your work is vital and noble. The impact that donors make through their philanthropy is transformational.
My late mentor, the Rev. Claude McBride, would dress up as a character named “Happy Calhoun” who weaved an entertaining and poignant story about a Christmas musical, noting that the musical phrase “fortissimo” meant “give it all you’ve got.” In the conference room at our firm’s main office, there on top of the resource center shelves is a large poster that reads “Carpe Diem” to remind our team to make the most of each day.
In your important work, be sure that you and your team have the rest, energy, plans, and implementation needed to maximize your potential. Your mission and those you serve rely on you — so, give it all you’ve got!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.