roadsigns 2014-Apr16
If you haven’t already, now is the time to evaluate how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and strategy. The first quarter is now in the books and it’s time to take stock of where you are.
It’s incredibly important that you spend some time at the end of each quarter to look at year-to-date income vs. goal and figure out where you may need to adjust strategy to make sure you stay on track.
Here are some thoughts on how to approach this:

  1. Revenue check-in – Assuming you have cash-flowed your goals by month, you now have three months to compare against your forecast. Make sure you have the numbers right from accounting. Don’t assume they are right. Richard and I have seen mistakes reported and assumptions made, but then they are all wrong because of accounting errors.
  2. Donor Retention – A mistake often made by MGOs is that of just reporting on revenue. It goes something like this: You expected 10 of your donors to give in February for a total of $150,000. The month closed and you brought in $200,000. Great. However you also need to review donor retention by quarter. If only 5 of the 10 made a gift, but one of the five did well over what you were expecting, that particular donor is “masking” the behavior of the five who gave nothing. The fact that the other five did not make a gift is a warning signal. Either you didn’t get the timing of the gift right, or perhaps something is wrong in the relationship, or your strategy was wrong. Now is the time to figure this out – not at the end of the year.
  3. Strategic Execution – The questions I always ask are, “Did you do what you said you were going to do? If not, why? If yes, did it work?” This is important because not all strategy works, and to evaluate why, quarterly, is smart because you have time to adjust for the rest of the year. Many times I see MGOs and their managers lose their way when they feel they’ve worked so hard on setting strategy for the year in November, but then they don’t want to adjust it and change course. Having a plan can mean you may have to change it, and sometimes change it often.
  4. Tier Strategy — The end of quarter one is a good time to reevaluate your tier A thru C level donors. Are your donors in the right tier? Should some donors drop out and are their donors waiting to come on board? Do you have B level donors who now demand more of your time and should be in your A group? Perhaps some A’s need to move down? Now is a good time to evaluate this.
  5. Relationship Meter – As you know, major gift fundraising is all about deepening relationships with donors. How have you done this in the first three months of the year? Have you remained focused and are you out in front of donors with half of your time? Are you finding yourself stuck behind your desk? What can you do right now to break free and find out who your donors are? This is the only way you are going to find out the heart and mind of your donor. Taking stock every quarter on how well you are doing at this is critical, especially if you are expecting a large percentage of your goals to come in the fourth quarter. Now is the time to establish those relationships.
  6. Familiarity with Program – What have you done this year to know your programs better? What have you done to establish relationships with your program people? Every quarter, set a goal to spend time getting this right. Great MGOs know their programs and the people who run them.

Okay, these should help you as you are begin to evaluate where you are after the first three months of the year. I know it’s busy and there is a lot of pressure on you, but if you haven’t already, now is the time to reflect and figure out where you are before moving forward. You don’t want to be caught near the end of the year behind your goals while not having adjusted your strategy.
Finally, please make sure you become proactive and schedule a meeting with your manager to deliver an update on where you are in quarter one. Don’t wait for the manager to schedule the meeting for you. Always stay in front of it.