As we approach the end of the year and welcome new beginnings, it's essential to make time for analyzing and reflecting on this year's fundraising efforts. Amidst the flurry of holiday obligations and the rush of year-end fundraising, finding time for this reflection might seem challenging.
Let's be honest—evaluating the success of our fundraising initiatives isn't always easy. Understanding why certain strategies succeeded while others fell short can be puzzling. However, without pausing to reflect on our fundraising success, we risk staying on a fundraising treadmill—moving forward tirelessly without any real progress.
But, here's the silver lining: analyzing our fundraising performance is crucial for steering our efforts towards a meaningful destination in the upcoming year.
By assessing what worked and what didn't, we gain valuable insights into where to focus our energy and resources for future endeavors. So, how can we carve out time for this essential reflection amidst the chaos and turn it into an engaging process of learning and growth?
Here are six straightforward ways to navigate year-end reflection:
Allocate Dedicated Time: We promise the world will not end if you set aside a specific slot in your schedule solely for reflection. At the very least, carve out an entire day (off-site) or be bold and carve out a whole week! Consider arranging team meetings where everyone can contribute ideas, fostering a collaborative environment for learning and growth.
Ask the Right Questions: Pose essential questions about goals, effective fundraising strategies, encountered challenges, new opportunities, and the return on investment (ROI) of time spent on each area. Try asking things like—“What challenges did we encounter?” “What surprised us?” “Where did we really lean into our values?”—to spark creative conversation.
Celebrate Achievements: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate achievements, regardless of size. Celebrate with treats, create a recognition board, or write thank-you notes to acknowledge contributions, injecting enthusiasm into the planning process.
Set Achievable Goals: As a rule of thumb, we tend to love 3 goals, like 4, and are overwhelmed by 5. With this in mind, identify no more than four strategic fundraising goals for the new year, prioritizing them by importance. Remember, you can adjust priorities or add more as you accomplish them.
Set Reasonable Objectives: You know the drill! Break larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks using SMART criteria (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-specific) to ensure consistent progress.
Save the Date: Mark your calendar now for quarterly reflection sessions in the new year—whether for a day or a few hours to revisit your goals, priorities, and objectives (and to celebrate with a special treat!).
Finally, approach reflection as a growth opportunity. If you can embrace the process as an exciting adventure where every evaluation and decision moves you forward - you're much more likely to find time this month to accomplish it!
Keep an eye out for part II, where we'll give you examples of priorities and the best way to prioritize your needs in 2024.