If you’re like us, seeing Labor Day in our rearview mirror is bittersweet. While we’re ready for fall routines and traditions, we don’t want the longer, warmer, lazier days of summer to end.
But it’s undeniable: the end of the year is upon us. If you use a paper calendar, you’ve ripped out the “re-order” page. If you work with budgets, your three-month projections run through December.
The fourth quarter of the year is especially busy for nonprofits. What does your organization need to accomplish over the next few months? And do you have a plan for getting it done?
You can conquer Q4 – and prepare for a great 2016 – by focusing on the following three key tasks between now and December.
1. Conduct an end-of-year fundraising appeal.
While your annual appeal will bring in a modest number of dollars, its larger purpose is to add names to your donor database. Names you will systematically move up the giving ladder to larger gifts! With a large percentage of annual gifts traditionally made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, now is the time to get started on your effort. Here are some key steps:
- Determine your message and theme. Which impacts and successes will you share in the letter or collateral piece?
- Map out your full “campaign” strategy to reinforce this appeal. How will your appeal carry over to the organization’s website, social media, e-blasts? Are you planning to make phone calls?
- Make giving easy for donors. Provide direct access by providing a reply envelope, contact information, link to online giving and other shortcuts and tools.
- Strive to have no lapsed donors. Who gave last year? Have they given yet this year? If not, pick up the phone and follow up.
- Share and celebrate results. Tell supporters how much was raised and how the gifts were used. Share impacts that make your donors WANT to give again.
2. Conduct a board evaluation.
The end of the year is a natural time of reflection and preparation, and assessment is one of the most effective ways to increase board effectiveness. Taken together, this means the best time to conduct a focused board evaluation is now to position your organization for 2016.
Use this time to energize your board by reviewing everything you’ve accomplished together over the last 12 months. Ask for feedback on progress, goals and plans. Review board governance processes and documents to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant. And identify areas of strength and opportunity in each of the five areas of affective governance: Purpose, Education, Architecture, Results and Leadership (PEARL). (Don’t know what that is? Ask us!)
3. Update (or build) your strategic plan.
Strategic plans help you prioritize, streamline operations, focus resources, align your team, assess challenges and adapt organizational direction to meet the needs of a constantly changing environment. Your plan is your compass for the next few years. And it’s crucial to organizational success.
Additionally, your board and board committee architecture should align with the objectives of your plan to ensure everyone is aiming for the same goals. If your plan is expiring in 2015 or 2016, or you’ve not sure how to begin plotting a new direction, we can help.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery