This article was originally published in Nonprofit Hub Magazine.
We know some of you are on top of things after the holidays, but it’s not so easy for the rest of us. You know the drill—you set your resolutions with determination on New Year’s Day, but within weeks you already catch yourself losing steam (don’t worry, you’re not alone). The same decline in drive can happen within your organization, so here are some foolproof ways to meet and exceed all your goals for fundraising in 2019.
It’s hard to succeed in the future without first analyzing the past, so sit down and create a physical list that notes where you went right and wrong in 2018. Did you target as many people as you wanted? Did you reach your desired social media engagement numbers? Raise as much money as you predicted? Once you answer questions like these, focus on the why. There are specific reasons why your organization met (or didn’t meet) each of its goals. identifying the root of your success or failure will help you decide which tactics you should carry over with you into 2019.
Yes, it can be hard to identify your own weaknesses, but it’s a must—and the solutions aren’t always as complicated as they seem. If you had an event with low attendance, splurge a little more on advertising for the next one or start planning it a couple weeks earlier. If your email open rates are low, maybe the subject line isn’t as captivating as it could be, or you didn’t include a clear call to action. Acknowledging the previous year’s successes and struggles will help you build your plan of action for 2019.
Once you’ve examined last year’s performance, set concrete long and short-term goals for 2019. To hold yourself accountable, create a calendar that documents your target numbers for fundraising, donor outreach, social media and anything else you’d like to measure in the next 12 months. Remember, your overall objective shouldn’t just be to raise a certain percentage more than you did last year. Instead, fundraising expert Amy Eisenstein says your ultimate goal should be calculated by “the amount you estimate you can raise based on the prospective donors you’ve identified and the fundraising activities and campaigns you have planned.”
Also, make sure all your goals are time-sensitive and results-oriented. Instead of simply saying you want to reach out to a new group of potential donors this year, say “By Dec. 31, we should have acquired 150 new donors who are middle-class women.” You’ll know your annual goals are measurable if you’re able to break them down into smaller, incremental checkpoints. This will keep you on track throughout the year and make it less overwhelming to complete each task. Don’t forget to celebrate your small victories!
Always, always, always thank each individual who contributed to your cause in the previous year. Show them how their involvement made an impact in 2018 and share the results of your year-end campaign through social media, emails or in person at community events. A little appreciation will go a long way and leave you with a higher percentage of recurring donors.
A new year is the perfect excuse to try out that idea or project you’ve been considering for months (or longer). Don’t be afraid to take risks and make this year bigger and better than the last! Use a different fundraising strategy, reach out to a new demographic, start an innovative media campaign or attend a conference you haven’t before.
You should also find out if there’s a new technology you’re missing that could increase your efficiency this coming year. Assess whether your database system, project management software and scheduling services are up-to-date. Are they helping your organization run as smoothly as possible? If not, now may be a good time to invest in updated resources that will make it easier to run your organization. No matter how you choose to step outside of your comfort zone, a little trial and error with new concepts could be the key to expanding and developing your organization like never before.
The new year is what you make it—whether you view it as a daunting new challenge or an exciting opportunity to grow and develop your organization is up to you!