Clock about to strike midnight and a sparkler

Don’t Set New Years Resolutions to Grow Your Funding

Listing resolutions to increase your nonprofit funding is easy; setting ones you can accomplish is tricky.

New Year’s Resolutions often include activities we know we ought to do–but have not. People set resolutions, and firm decisions, to do or not do something. They may not realize that fulfilling income resolutions require multiple actions, unknowns, unexpected steps, and frequent recommitment. Funding resolutions that involve activities like these are impossible to keep. Avoid this experience. Contrary to popular advice, don’t set New Year’s income resolutions at your nonprofit to increase your funding.

Do something better.

Increasing nonprofit funding is critical to your success. Instead of setting resolutions, set goals. You may think the difference between a resolution and a goal is minuscule. However, setting out to achieve something that requires a plan of action, multiple steps, and frequent adventures is vastly different from making a firm commitment to do something–like not hitting the snooze buttons.

Goals identify specific results, like creating a more engaged fund-raising board, a planned giving program, a balanced budget, or increasing your income. By their nature, most nonprofit goals engage the community and therefore are not entirely under your control.

Goals require learning and refining actions as you work.

Goals need more than a firm commitment and, because of this, result in measurable differences, 

I recommend the following steps to set funding goals to accomplish in the New Year:

1. List the outcomes you seek.

For most nonprofits, you will list a result to increase your revenue.

2. Prioritize Your List

3. Select No More Than Three.

Yes, just three goals, though two is better. And, if you insist on three, at least one needs to sound fun. Fun motivates us..

4. Identify Next Steps.

A step is something you write on your calendar. Each has a definite beginning and end. Once you complete it, you check it off. For example, “Meet with Joe to ask him to be on the Planned Giving Task Force.” In contrast, this fails the next step test: “Start planned giving.” It is too general.

If you can’t identify a specific next step, try: “Research practical actions on planned giving by talking to members of the Planned Giving Council.” Why? To accomplish goals, you need specific information to create the next steps you can place in your planner.

5. Plan for Incremental Progress.

Avoid setting unrealistic steps, like trying to visit all twelve board members in January. Review last year. If you completed seven visits in twelve months, undertake a realistic stretch.  Plan three meetings a quarter.

6. Create Motivation.

What will motivate you to accomplish the steps? Writing it in your calendar in ink helps. But also consider personal incentives. For example, if you want to spend more one-on-one time with your board, find meeting spots to energize you. How about a takeout lunch in a park, rather than a busy, noisy restaurant in high season? When you have a choice, motivate and please yourself.

7. Eat Peas First.

As a non-pea person, this means doing the steps you like least in the beginning. With board members, call the one you slightest desire to meet with first. With any luck, your proactive approach will improve the relationship. It will lighten your backpack’s load.

8. Evaluate Your Progress.

Do this briefly each week and in-depth during the last of the month. If needed, identify and schedule the next steps. Better yet, find an accountability partner. 

9. Resolve to Achieve Your Goals.

While I don’t recommend nonprofit resolutions, I recommend you do whatever it takes to achieve your funding goals.

For more answers, check Karen’s Nonprofit CEO Library.

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