improve fundraising results part 1: year-end reviews

You made it through the December madness — Christmas and New Years. Wahoo! Hopefully you’re seeing the results you worked hard for. Even bigger WAHOOS!! But as 2012 is closed out and put to bed, you need to take a few actions to make 2013 even better than 2012.

Start by digging through your files and find whatever planning documents you used to start and navigate 2012. Look back at what you planned to do.

Make a couple of lists.

1. What did you plan to do that you were able to do? These are the things that worked almost exactly the way you wanted them to. Make this as granular or as horizon-view as you wish — it’s your list. This is your: “What worked” or “Big Wins” list (or whatever you want to call it).

2. What did you want to do but didn’t actually manage to do? You know that web project or data thing or personnel addition that never happened — add those to your list. Whatever you just knew you were going to get done but they didn’t happen, for whatever reasons. This is your: “Didn’t Get Done” or “No Wins” list (careful with your title, this is not a good place for a lot of negative self-talk).

Now list some “whys.”

Why were you not able to do the things you wanted and had planned to do? Put an honest explanation beside each item on “Didn’t Get Done” list. And you have to have an explanation that is painfully specific. Did your boss or the Board change your priorities for you? Were their cultural currents that forced you to tack? Were budgets cut out from under you? Did you lose focus? (This one is tough to own. It’s natural to push the responsibility to someone else, but it’s just you and me, so be honest with yourself). Why did these balls/projects/goals get dropped? Candidly drilling down into the whys behind these unmet expectations is required — you may need another cup of coffee to deal with it, but you can do it.

Use the same technique with the “Big Wins” list. What happened that contributed to you accomplishing the wins? Was it your relentless focus? Was it a co-worker who helped? Was it enough budget to hire some help? Push hard to distill one primary reason why the Big Wins happened (only one reason allowed, you’ll see a blog from me soon on the glorious power of forced choice).

Now compare the lists. What are the differences between the Big Wins list and the Didn’t Get Done list? OK, beside how you feel about them. Is there a common resource or person? Are they all budget issues? Was it “air cover” from you boss or Board? Was it just focus on your part?

You know where I’m headed with this: by identifying what caused the “Wins” to be wins and the “No Wins” to be no wins (I’m working not to call ‘em losers), you can know how to make 2013 work.

Once you have your lists with explanations, you’ll be ready to make your 2013 list. More on that in the next post. . .

For now, what’s it like to make a list of Wins and No Wins? Any surprises? Or was it a struggle to find your priorities from 2012? Wherever you are in the planning process, this is a great first step. Keep me posted.

Just a note: this series of blog posts isn’t designed to take the place of major strategic planning. I (and others) do comprehensive strategic planning for clients. This is a simple DIY system that will make a big difference in your 2013 if you’ll follow along.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: Hamed)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

2 thoughts on “improve fundraising results part 1: year-end reviews”

  1. Pingback: oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » improve fundraising results part 2: filters and boundaries

  2. Pingback: oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » improve fundraising results part 3: know your numbers

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