Every Saturday before I head to the grocery store, I write a list of the meals my family will have for the week. This helps me figure out what groceries I need to buy. Planning ahead has its advantages, but it has disadvantages too. If you don’t allow yourself flexibility to adjust the plan once in a while, you can find yourself with some rather disappointing results - and no way in which to change them.
Let’s say Tuesday rolls around and no one in the family wants to eat Tacos again. You're tired and don’t feel like cooking or, worse, cleaning up. If every meal is planned for the week, then you may have to suck it up or risk wasting food. The same is true for your fundraising year end plan. What happens if you're mid-way through December and it turns out your workhorse November campaign is not performing up to par this year? If there's no flexibility in your plan, you may well have to suck it up.
That's why I usually plan for a "mystery dinner night" each week. This can take the form of leftovers, an ad hoc dinner, or better yet, a night out with no cleaning. Allowing for that flexibility in my meal planning gives me the ability to adapt to the situation. The same is true for Fundraising. You should always keep a miscellaneous fund that can be used to adapt to your current situation. Luckily, many nonprofits keep a miscellaneous line item in their budget.
The difference between fundraising and meal planning is that in fundraising our donors generally don't say, "Not Another Taco Tuesday!" Instead, they may not say anything. Or worse, not donate anything when they're not feeling feeling the love for tacos. To determine when you need to give the tacos a dinner break, it's important to be tracking your performance to see if your plan needs adjusting.
DonorTrends has a free year to date fundraising report you can use to easily determine if your plan needs adjusting. If you see that you DO need to adjust, there are a few easy things you can do to get back on track:
- Identify the top 20% of your donor file and put them in a telemarketing campaign
- Email your best prospects an additional e-mail
- Call into your best lapsed donors to improve reactivation rate
If you don’t have a way to identify these donors, then use our predictive models.
Need some additional resources? A couple months ago Roger Craver posted 4 Practical Resources for Year End Preparation on the Agitator. I recommend that you reference that post for a lot of useful tips. In it, he points to a few more resources, and one that stood out was the 12 Year-End Fundraising Checklists from Claire Axelrad which Bloomerang has made available free of charge.