Tag Archives: year end reflections

FUNdraising Good Times Year End Reflections

Year end reflections, fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, fundraising strategyAs 2014 comes to an end, we find ourselves reflecting on our work and this column. They are both intertwined: FUNdraising Good Times is one way we help nonprofit organizations and institutions position themselves for fundraising success. To the uninitiated, fundraising can appear either easy or hard. Confidence and fear typically drive these stances. What is needed is a healthy dose of both, and lots of planning. In our work locally and across the country we help organizations large and small build the prerequisites for fundraising success. We help bring together board members, executive directors, fundraising professionals, and volunteers for the purpose of honestly assessing where they are, what they need, and where they want to go.

That’s what we seek to accomplish with this column as well. We write to stimulate healthy conversation, to encourage volunteer leaders and nonprofit executives to hold each other accountable, and to share some of the technical or how-to information specific to fundraising.

We began writing FUNdraising Good Times in October of 2005 when we lived in the San Francisco, CA Bay Area. We approached Vernon Whitmore and Eleanor Boswell Raine of The Globe Newspaper Group with the column concept. We knew that many of their readers worked for nonprofits, made financial contributions, and depended on the work of these organizations. We also knew that readers served as board members, were called upon to lead fundraising campaigns, and were forced to make difficult decisions when adequate funding could not be secured. We also knew that many struggled without access fundraising counsel. We wanted to fill the gap, for free, 500 words at a time.

As we anticipate our 10th year writing this column we remain ever grateful to Vernon and Eleanor for our launch. We now reach readers across the country through 28 papers, two magazines and our blog FUNdraisingGoodTimes.com. The issues that drove us to begin writing this column are those that sustain us in all aspects of our work. We want to help nonprofit organizations and institutions bring their visions and missions to life. We want them to succeed. And we want them to be thoughtful stewards of the resources they have access to.

We encourage board members to increase their involvement, and we encourage nonprofit staff to invite board members into the fundraising process from the very beginning. Most importantly we encourage all nonprofit leaders to ask the hard questions: is our work making an impact? What if we invested in new technology or marketing? Do we need to do things differently, to innovate? Are we meeting a need? And critical to fundraising, where will the money come from?

You are our readers. We appreciate your work. We want you to succeed. Tell us what you want us to write about in 2015. We’ll get busy.

Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Yearend Fundraising Reflections

End of year 2012As you reflect on 2012 here are some things to consider in the area of fundraising. Take a quiet moment to contemplate the following as you prepare for the coming year.

Let’s start with the big question: did your organization meet its fundraising goal? If yes, what contributed to success? If no, what happened? How many individuals made a gift? How many business or corporations made a grant or gave matching gifts? Did foundations or government agencies award funds? As you look at the numbers, consider whether or not the organization is dependent on funds from one or two sources? If the answer is yes, what would happen if those funds were reduced or eliminated?

If fundraising goals were met or exceeded, was this due to a one-time gift such as an unexpected bequest that put the organization “over the top?” What would have happened without that gift? Pull that gift out from the fundraising results and look at the story the numbers tell. Are there areas that need more focus in 2013?

If your organization produces a special event as part of its fundraising, how did that go? Was the revenue goal met or exceeded? Was gross revenue up and expenses down? What percentage of event revenue came from ticket or table sales; how much came from sponsors and/or underwriters? Did the event attract new attendees, new sponsors, or under-writers? Was there a post-event analysis session with select guests and sponsors to gain insights on how to improve the “experience” at next year’s event and increase revenue?

What about endorsers? Are there are well-known and respected people beyond the board and executives who endorse and promote the nonprofit throughout the community?

How did last year’s activities lay a stronger foundation for 2013? Did the organization’s leaders meet and engage with new potential donors and funders? Did they engage with current and past donors?

Is the organization proactively working from a fundraising and marketing plan or are things on “auto-pilot?” For example, have solicitation materials been revamped? Is the case for support and call to action up-to-date and reflective of the organization’s current work? Are board members engaged as donors and solicitors, or does the organizational culture support the notion that “staff will take care of that?”

Finally, have new fundraising strategies been introduced that would excite the constituency and leadership?

Now is the time to reflect on the successes and challenges of 2012 and to plant seeds for a prosperous 2013. As you reflect it is good to “think big.” It is also appropriate to think “right sized.” Write down all your ideas for how things could improve in 2013, and then select a few strategic initiatives that your organization has the capacity to pursue. Start small and follow through. You can do it. We believe in you.

Next week: Is your board bored?