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VOL. 133 | NO. 2 | Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Assess 2017: Pass Or Fail?

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Happy New Year! We hope you will find within you a way to embrace the new year with thoughtfulness, optimism and calm. 

Before the promise of 2018 transforms into to-do lists and meetings, we suggest taking a few moments to identify what’s most important and what you do well. Center yourself and your organization, and agree on a few priorities that will make a difference in the lives of those you serve. 

Here are four suggestions that can ground your fundraising as you begin 2018. 

1. Honestly assess your strengths and challenges. Take a moment to assess yourself as an individual. This isn’t about praise and blame – it’s about reflection without judgment. With an honest assessment you can focus your time and energy on those things you do well, and you can find someone to partner with who can help you in the areas where you are challenged. 

You don’t have to be everything to everybody, including to yourself. Just be you. Assess your organization as well. What are the strengths of your nonprofit? What makes your organization unique? How do you add value to your community? 

You don’t have to be the executive director or president to conduct this assessment. In fact, it’s most interesting when people at all different levels engage in this reflection and share their results. 

2. Review and evaluate the prior year. Move from assessment to evaluation. Ask yourself and your team members, “What worked? What fell short of expectations? What was unexpected?” Don’t avoid the big question: “Did we meet our fundraising goals?” 

Look at your numbers and the numbers behind the numbers. Review the prior year with an eye to learn what worked and what didn’t. Ask what can be eliminated or repositioned. 

Engage all stakeholders in your organization – administrators, front-line staff, board members, the people you serve, influential donors. Listen to what they share. Take notes. 

3. Readjust your plan. Look at your plans for 2018. Do these need to be adjusted based on what you have learned? Do you now see challenges you had not previously anticipated? On a practical level, do you need to adjust your priorities, staffing, budget, messaging or case for support? Who do you need to work with? Talk to? 

Do you have what it takes to implement your fundraising plan? Is it the same plan you have had for years? Is it working? 

Don’t have one? This is the right time to create one. Keep it simple, but be sure to include milestones. Make sure that everybody in your organization is doing something every day to advance your fundraising; your year-end success depends on the 365 consistent daily actions you take. 

4. Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on a few things you can sustain that you believe will help advance your work and funding. 

You are important. Your work is important. We need you. Stay calm and embrace 2018.

Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.

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