Year-End Fundraising Reflections

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

As 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 businesses 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 underwriters? 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 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?

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “The Fundraisers Guide to Soliciting Gifts” now available at Amazon.com.