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It’s always right around this time of year when I fail to remember to do some really important things. Perhaps, most importantly, setting aside time in the coming months to do some serious strategic planning for the year ahead. I know that many of you forget this, too.
Let me acknowledge here that not all nonprofit organizations operate on the same fiscal year. But most schools, and many other types of nonprofits, share the same fiscal year of July 1 through June 30. This article is meant for you. If your organization has a different fiscal year, simply adjust my timeline to fit yours.
So, why worry now about next year’s fundraising plan when we still have so much to do in order to achieve this year’s budget? The answer is simple – because planning never gets the priority or attention that it deserves. Time gets away from us quickly as we sail through the late winter and early spring. There are a large number of events conducted in this timeframe that consume our time, effort and energy. We have to navigate Spring Break and Easter. Next thing we know, it is early June, and we are only a few weeks away from starting over.
So, my message this month is short and sweet:
Today – set aside time on your calendar in April to create your plan for next year
Tomorrow – send out meeting requests to those whom you want to be part of the planning process (staff members, development committee members, etc.)
Later this week – take 15 minutes to draft your ideal planning agenda for the few days you will focus on this task
Invite an outside source (mentor, colleague, or consultant) to join the planning process.
Doing these tasks now will free you from worrying about them for the next four months. You may just impress your boss as well. But most importantly, you will find that the planning process yields great results.
The goal of every nonprofit is to grow the mission. Growing the mission requires growth in the budget. Growth in the budget requires more operational fundraising from the development office. Significant growth in operational funding requires sound strategic planning. Sound strategic planning results from giving it attention and priority. Take the four easy steps above and you won’t be sorry later this year.