Work the Plan!
I was very proud of this particular client. We developed an annual fund plan, and with a little coaching the client implemented the plan last year and saw a 75 percent increase in giving.
So I was happy to have a call with staff and volunteer leadership as they discussed plans for this coming year. They sent an outline, and while some things looked familiar, some looked different.
As I began to ask some questions to help me get acclimated, things seemed very different.
"When was the last time your donors heard from you?" I asked.
"Well, we sent a letter at the close of the campaign in January," they eventually responded.
With the new fiscal year only a month away and their annual fund around the corner, I gave them their marching orders: a year-end thank-you note in the next week and then a personal phone call thanking each donor in the next three weeks. This would allow a month between those connections and the first phase of their campaign.
We'll let them get this under way and save the conversation on the detailed donor-relations outline that they have for another call with just the CEO.
We can all lose focus and get derailed in life — personally and professionally. That is where plans come in. In fundraising, they are essential to map out the right strategy and to be sure that the team is on the same page.
This week I was finalizing the updates of some campaign plans for a client that had been developed by a former staff member. The first few reads, I was dizzied. Then I met with the staff to get a situational analysis, and I was more confused — reality was not reflected in the plans. Neither the staff nor the volunteers understood the big picture, strategy or next steps — and now I knew why.
Create a great plan. Execute. Fine-tune. Execute. Fine-tune. Fundraising — even for an annual fund —is a year-round cycle of deepening relationships and inviting people to make a life-changing difference. Even after great success, pull out the plan and execute, fine-tune, execute ...
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.