Monday, August 04, 2014

August at Your Nonprofit: Gazing Back, Looking Forward

As I spend this August morning working in my favorite local cafe, I realize that I am engaged in some of the same planning and reflection that I encourage my clients to undertake during this time of the year.

On a rare day not filled with deadlines, appointments, and phone calls, I am taking a couple of hours to review and update my annual plan, assess the progress I am making towards my goals, remind myself of new projects I wanted to undertake that seem to have fallen by the wayside... in other words - get energized for the last few months of the year!

August is a great time to review goals, track progress, and get revved up for the fall months. So many nonprofits just throw up their hands at the beginning of August and say "Oh well, we can't get anything done this month. We'll just pick up our fundraising in September." Not so! This is a great time of year to gaze back and look forward. And it is an important time to plan for September, which can be a vital fundraising month. If you don't engage in some planning now, you'll be behind the eight ball come fall. Here's my August checklist for nonprofits:

  • Revenue goals: are you on track? If so, can you do more of what is working? If not, can you course-correct?
  • Donor stewardship: When is the last time your donors heard from you, not to ask for something, but just to offer an update? Should you send a friendly update in September or October? Can you start writing that now?
  • Grant proposal and reporting deadlines: Which of your grants are expiring in the fall or early winter? Should you be planning to reapply? Can you set up a time to talk to the grantor about a reapplication? If you need to gather data for grant reports, now is a good time of year to do that.
  • Government grants and contracts: For those nonprofits that get funding from government agencies... the government's fiscal year ends soon, which often means that they will release RFPs in August. Should you be on the lookout for these? Or, better yet, should you be proactively searching for opportunities?
  • Twitter and other social media: Imagine your donors sitting on the beach with their smartphones, checking Twitter or Facebook. While they are scrolling through vacation photos or updates from friends, will they see updates from your organization? 
  • September milestones: Are back-to-school time or the Jewish holidays important times of year for either your donors or your organization? If so, what do you need to do now to capitalize on that time (late August - early October)?
  • Board: When your board goes back to work or back to school in August and September, will they also be turning their attention to the latest accomplishments and needs at your organization? Should you schedule a board conference call, meeting, update packet, or training?

Wishing you an August filled with dips in the pool, cool lemonade, and the pace and expansiveness that allow you to do some great planning for the fall!

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