Summer Tips to Kick Start Development
I wrote this article with my colleague, Jennifer Weinstock, and it originally appeared on eJP.
One of the hardest things about working in development is the grueling annual cycle. The minute one fiscal year ends, the next begins. And so we push on, never taking a moment to think critically about that special time when one year ends and a new starts.
Ordinary people think nothing of June 30th and July 1st. They are just two days on the calendar that are close to the 4th of July. What a great time to plan a vacation and take the “summer off” from the development cycle.
If you want to increase your dollars raised, improve your relationships, align your staff and get creative, summer is your golden time. As June 30th approaches, here are our top 15 suggestions about how to make the most of your fiscal year turnover or summer (if you have a different year end date):
- Review your top 100 prospects. Who needs to come off (they are no longer appropriate prospects)? Who needs to be added (your board chair just met them)? Is all their information up to date?
- Make sure your database is current. Remember all those bounced emails and returned invitations? Hire a college intern to clean it all up! Bad data is worse than no data.
- Make five new friends. Not everyone is away. Who can you meet for coffee that you don’t have time to see during the regular year? Look closely at people who increased their gifts this year. Are there donors who moved from $180 to $360 or from $1,000 to $1,800? This is the time to reach out to them.
- Review your organization’s strategic plan. Did the money you raised this year move you closer to achieving your organization’s vision? How can you tell your donors about the impact of their investment? What work still needs to be funded?
- Complete your development plan (if not already done) and send it to key volunteers for approval. The full plan should be presented at your first board meeting in September. (If you don’t know what we are talking about, email us!)
- Set key priorities goals for the coming year (for example, how many events, mailings, 1:1 meetings) and prioritize them.
- Create a streamlined development and marketing calendar for the year.
- Update your development presence on your website and social media. The summer is a great time to pre-create postings for social media that you can use throughout the year.
- Think about your personal work plan for the coming year. What will you do for your own professional development? How will you better manage your time? What are your personal goals?
- Get organized and get a jump start of the fall frenzy. Rosh Hashana is coming whether you like it or not. Print your holiday cards and write personal notes and sign them. Just wait to seal them and drop in the mail.
- Clean your office, de-clutter your desk and restock supplies.
- Clean and organize your inbox. File all donor emails in their electronic or paper file so you can always remember where you left the relationship last.
- Do prospect research on 25 prospects. Don’t worry about Lexus Nexus, you just need Google!
- Communicate with your board members at their summer locations. Check in. Tell them about the work you are doing over the summer and plans for the coming year. Send out the board meeting calendar for the year and update contact information.
- CELEBRATE: Take the time to debrief, train and brainstorm with your staff. Learn, bond and have fun!
The more you use the summer to get organized, the smoother and more productive the fall will be and the better head start you’ll have on achieving your organization’s development goals for the next fiscal year.
Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and leadership coaching for nonprofits. She is the author of “On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service.” Nanette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Weinstock is the Senior Development Officer at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA and a Wexner Field Fellow. Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer.email@example.com