How to Refocus for the New Year

Congratulations on your successful end-of-year fundraising campaign! After all the hard work put into the final fundraising push of the year, you definitely deserved that extra plate at Christmas dinner and the extra drink (or drinks) on New Year’s Eve—cheers. But now that it’s 2019 and the ball has dropped, it’s time to make sure you’re not dropping the ball. Here are a few things you can focus on in the first few months of the new year to ensure success for your nonprofit.

Follow up

Just because your holiday giving campaign ended in 2018 doesn’t mean its success has to be stuck in the past too. Use the leftover momentum to start the year off on the right foot.

Start by following up with new donors who showed interest during your campaign. Obviously, thank-yous are a must—your donors will love ’em and your mom will be proud—but consider some other ways to follow up too. For example, you could send a short survey to donors. Ask them why they donated and what other causes they support, and don’t be afraid to ask a question to get some more specific information that will help you improve your future fundraising efforts. If you rely on volunteers, ask these new donors if they want to get a little more hands-on and take things to the next level by joining your team of volunteers.

Plan for next year

I’m sure the last thing you want to do in January is plan for November and December. But the sooner you get in the film room and review the game tape, so to speak, the fresher it will be in your mind once game day arrives. Take some time to identify your nonprofit’s successes and shortcomings you noticed during the holiday giving season and put pen to paper.

Don’t overthink it. Start with some open-ended ideas on what went well and what can be improved and thank yourself later because these notes will be helpful when the time comes to start planning. Be sure to get the final donor numbers down in writing and compare them to your expectations and previous years’ efforts.

Fight the post-holiday slowdown

The way to combat this is to do a great job of telling your story and pushing your brand to its constituents. Use social media to tell people what you’re up to. Put together some numbers that illustrate your successes during the last calendar year and make it available to your stakeholders and the community – show people where their donations went and how it helped. Use any interview requests or press opportunities to further your organization’s narrative. If journalists aren’t knocking down your door, go to them by pitching your story ideas to the media and posting unique and relevant blog posts. As always, the more you’re in front of your constituents and your community, the better. Putting even more focus on fundraising now will go a long way in preventing a slowdown in contributions later.

When a sports team ends its season, they get an off-season; time to recover and a chance for reflection on the past year before starting again. But do you think those athletes are propped up on a beach with cold one in hand the entire time? They’re using that time to hone their craft and improve themselves, they’re in the gym and the film room, doing whatever it takes to be better than the competition. And don’t kid yourself, you have several worthy competitors of your own in your community for a donor or volunteer to consider working with. There’s no offseason for nonprofit professionals. We have to reflect on past efforts and plan for the future while continually putting our best foot forward each and every day.  

 This article was originally published on 1.16.2018—Updated 1.2.2019

new year

Randy Hawthorne

As the former Executive Director and Editor for Nonprofit Hub and a Professional Certified Marketer, Randy shares his passions of marketing and education with nonprofits to help them implement marketing and organizational leadership principles so they can grow their organizations. Randy lends his marketing and organizational leadership expertise to a number of nonprofits in his community. Outside the office, Randy works with high school and college students and mentors young professionals to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

January 3, 2019

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