npo leadership: make a 2009 list

Unless you’re working in gift processing, this was probably a little calmer week for you than many of the previous weeks in recent months. In addition to returning all those unanswered emails and wondering (worrying?) exactly how 2009 will total out, here’s one thing you can do today that will make 2010 better. Make a list of all the things what you wish had been different in 2009.list photo

I’m working on my list for Oneicity. Mine is titled “2009 Failures” (you may not want to title your list quite so boldly, but I like the startle-factor that comes with that title).

Take a few minutes and think back about 2009. Start listing all the things that you wish had been different in 2009. Maybe you’ll list things like:

  • I wish the economy had been better.
  • I wish our donors had given more.
  • I wish the board (my boss) had listened to me more.
  • I wish I’d done more social media.
  • I wish our direct mail had raised more net income.
  • I wish I’d been more prayerful or intentional or thoughtful about my planning.
  • I wish I’d gotten more done this year.

You get the idea.

Now take that list and deal with what you have control over. Unless you’re a bigger player in the world economy than most of us, you can’t fix the economy. So begin looking at your list but frame each item in terms of what you can control. Your list might begin to look like this:

  • I wish our income had been better (you really don’t care that much about the economy, but really you do care about how the economy effected your income).
  • I wish I’d communicated the great need we are meeting.
  • I wish I’d offered more solutions to my superiors better so I had more influence with them.
  • I wish I’d invested 20 minutes a day to do more social medial.
  • I wish our direct mail had raised more net income.
  • I wish I’d been more prayerful or intentional or thoughtful about my planning.
  • I wish I’d done more of the most important “nexts”.

Great. Now take that list (you know the one you actually have control over) and determine where you could have a positive effect. As an example of one item I’ll drill down on:

“I wish our direct mail had raised more net income.”

Was gross income AND net income giving down from last year?
If so, was income down from all donors? Majors, monthly, general donors?
If not all groups were down, which were down and which were up? Can you spot a reason for the “ups” or the “downs”?
Was there a single expense that effected net income?
What did you do differently this year than last year?

You get the idea. Start with your wish list and then move to what you can control. Then break down the most important items into components that you control. Then begin figuring out how you’re going to make 2010 better! And it is going to be!

I’d love to hear what your “wish list” is and what your steps are to making 2010 a better year. Are you making lists for 2010 yet? Have you figured out what you need to do to make 2010 a better year than 2009? As always, I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: koalazymonkey)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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