If You Fail to Plan; Plan on Failing.

Boy, that is an oldie but a goody!  How many of you have been at a board meeting, committee meeting or staff meeting and heard someone say,  “I have this great idea for a fundraising event!”.  And, everyone leans in closely, hands on chins, expectant eyes and smiles galore waiting to hear about “the” idea that will save the day.

Well, and I promise you, there isn’t one.  Even the very best fundraising idea cannot go from mention to fully realized without a lot of, and I mean a lot of, work.  And, back to the title of this post, if it is not currently part of your plan, you are facing more work and more time to make it a success.

So what does that mean? First it means you need a Development Plan.  That is a plan that outlines clearly the income goals for the year (or multi-year is even better) with the tactics you will employ to reach the goals and who is responsible for what.

The staff can begin the drafting of a plan as they know what resources they have.  And, the draft can then be worked on within your development committee.  And, finally, the board can endorse the plan.  And, remember, this is one of the ways the board fulfills its role in fundraising.

What does this planning process do?  Well, a lot.  It forces your organization to answer some very important questions.  They can include but are not limited to:  How do we raise our funds? How much does the board and staff understand the role of development?  What is the role of the board and staff in development?  What development activities can we be successful at?  Why do our donors give to our organization?  And, lots more!

If you don’t have a plan;  meaning a written down, agreed to, actual document that everyone gets to be part of making, you will go down many rabbit holes of “great ideas”. And the next time someone says, “I have a great idea….” you can say, “wonderful, let’s see if that fits within our plan this year, and if not, we can look at for next year.” Remember great ideas are great today, tomorrow, and next year.

I can help your organization with its development plan, and yes, you need one.



Mission Critical

Can you recite your mission ?

Sounds easy enough. If you were asked to state the mission of your nonprofit could you state it clearly, without stumbling, fully and passionately? If you answered yes to this question, part of me thinks you can stop reading.

But another part says “maybe read on” just in case.

Some folks might be thinking “I know our mission, why is this even a question? I mean, every day, I work to make our mission happen”.  But the reality is that every single decision you make must be guided in full by the mission you currently have.  It is a truth in the nonprofit world that almost all bad outcomes can be traced in some way to working outside or tangentially to the stated mission.

Almost always it’s about funding (usually something like a grant or designated gift) that “sort of fits” but in your heart you know it’s really about “we need money, any money” fears.  And that slippery slope of taking money that is not related fully to mission, might feel in the short-term like a solution, but I assure you in the long-term the unintended consequences will be vast.

Another example is something like “there isn’t any money in our mission focus, so we will add on this other thing that is sort of related, but not really, and is more attractive to donors, then we can have some influx of funds to carry our real mission work”.  It’s a lie. I repeat it’s a lie.

When you start thinking like that, or you hear a board member or donor start talking like that.  Stop. And immediately review your mission statement, and possibly your vision statement, your relevance in your community and especially your nonprofits values.  This conversation is critical in all the ways that will keep you on track in your mission work.

I can assist in this conversation.  It is one that should be revisited regularly and can revive commitment and generate ideas that keep your nonprofit on track.  Don’t be afraid to have the conversation, you will be glad you did.