realitycheck 2015-Jun10

Part 1 of a series: How to Make an Impact This Summer That Will Lead to a Successful Year-End

Ahh… the lazy days of summertime. Sit back, clean up your office or cubicle, maybe go for that 4 days a week, 10 hour a day summer option… leave early on Thursdays…
Most of us in major gift fundraising know that summer is a crucial time to get prepared for the craziness of the September to December giving period. And while summer can be a little more laid back, it is also the perfect time to make an impact that will lead you to success with your donor goals and relationships by the end of the year.
This is why I’ve created this six-part series on how you can make an impact now that will catapult you to success by the end of the year. This is important! I’ve witnessed too many MGOs who use summer to take it easy, and then they pay for it in the last quarter of the year.
That doesn’t have to happen to you, if you prepare now while you have a little more freedom and down time in your normal schedule.

Review Your Goals and Reassess

Now is the time to go over all of your revenue goals with your portfolio of donors. You are now at the halfway point of the year, and you should have a pretty good idea (based on previous giving behavior) if you are on track to meet or exceed your goals. Here are some steps to take:

Review donor goal revenue vs actual. If you have cash-flowed your revenue goals for each donor, you should have a good handle on which donors are off plan and who is doing fine. If you have NOT cash-flowed your goals, you need to review your communication and solicitation plan and check that against revenue to date with each donor. The purpose of this exercise is to help you (and your manager) know where you are with your portfolio.

Make Assessments. Now that you have reviewed revenue, you need to make two major assessments:

  • For donors that are behind goal in the first half of the year, will I still be able to maintain that revenue goal by making up for it in the second half?
  • How confident am I that I will make the revenue goals for donors who I expected to give in the second half of the year?

These assessments are really important for you because it’s time to get honest. I’ve known too many MGOs who either live in the clouds or have their heads stuck in the sand. Your manager will need to know where you are right now, and how confident you feel about the goals you set up almost a year ago.

Now, if you have a solid major gift program, you know that goal-setting is not about punishment. It’s about creating budgets and giving you an incentive with your donors. So if the goals may not be met, everyone needs to understand it.

New Plans, New Donors? You know a lot more about your donors than you did nine months ago, when you were budgeting and setting revenue goals. Use that knowledge to change your strategic plan. Perhaps a gift you thought was coming has been delayed by some circumstance beyond your control. What is your new plan now to reengage that donor? Now is the time to think that through, write it down and communicate that to leadership.

It’s also a time to look at your portfolio and make some hard decisions about what donors should probably come off your caseload, and what donors should come onto your caseload. For those new donors, you have an opportunity to visit them and get to know them now, before you start soliciting them at year-end. Always having a cleaned up portfolio is good. Think of it as pruning a tree. Cut away the dead branches and the tree is much healthier. It’s the same with your donor portfolio.

Review Goals with Management. Richard and I have urged you over and over to make sure you are always communicating with your manager what is going on with your portfolio. I know it’s easy to report when you are doing well and you are trending to exceed your goals. However, if you’re behind and you’re a bit discouraged at this point in the year, you may have a tendency to fly under the radar and not report on where you are. Don’t do it. Keep everything in front of your manager, and let her help you become part of the solution. Remember that as long as you are “working your plan,” you should have nothing to fear. All you can do as a great MGO is work your plan. If you do that, good things happen.

Reviewing goals and reassessing where you are is Step 1. It’s so important at this time of year that you do this for yourself and for management. In my next post, we’ll discuss how you can go into deeper analysis and research with your B- and C-level donors.