I love the New Year and all the drivel about a clean slate and fresh start.

The previous year has to be closed, reviewed, analyzed, and reported. The details of the year end appeal need to be assessed and all year-end financial records need to be finalized. Theoretically the budget and programming planning for the upcoming year have already been done, and January will have been about the cleanup and close, and now the engine revs anew.

For me, the concept of addressing this all can be quite daunting and often the very first question of all is “where do I start?” By breaking down the entirety of this into smaller pieces, this big mess becomes a handful of much more manageable segments. By breaking the whole into bits it is easier to see who needs to be part of the planning, and who can work on other activities.

Below are listed a few of the topics I would decide to address first:

Money:Money in a treasurechest

Funding/Revenue/Income Plan: this is absolutely critical and needs to involve the board, development staff, if you have them, and input from major donors and stakeholders.

  • How much do we need to put our feet on the floor each morning,
  • How much do we need to cover the new plans or programs,
  • Do we have enough in reserve: do we need to find funds for that,

You know somewhere, someplace, sometime, there is going to be an emergency, even a small emergency fund is better than none.

Herding Cats

Herding Cats Board Plan: this topic seems to take precedence over fundraising sometimes, but is key for governance and fundraising. I have found it helpful to reiterate annually the expectations for support and participation of the board for the upcoming year;  this can offset  ambiguity and can identify possible conflicts early on.

  • Participation
  • Responsibilities
  • Development and Recruitment
  • Employee and staff plans and goals*

* Personally, I feel that many nonprofit employees are rarely acknowledged for the work they do. Sure, they get paid, but an investment in your staff will pay huge dividends. ( But you know this!) Spend the time with each of them to do more than review, but create a plan and get a set of goals for them to achieve.

WhatWoman with old fashioned ear trumpet

Communications Plan: do you have quick, clean answers to these questions?

  • Who are you?
  • Who do you help or serve?
  • What is your purpose?

Make the effort to be clear and direct with your answers and share these responses with your organization. There is no fundraising, board development or program conversation that can take place unless people know clearly who you are and what you are doing.

How does communication work for your organization?  Website, blogs, Facebook, Twitter? Newsletter, print or online? Phone trees, forums, nasty gossip and rumor?  Face to face meetings?
Planning your communications for the year, even should the plan change, will allow you to determine how you can share the goals for the year.

As a firm believer in planning, even beginning with the most basic issues can go a long way to managing and organizing work so those goals really can be achieved. I learned this the hard way but am thrilled to share some good practices and short cuts for you let me help. – 310 828 6979.

Image Credits:
ear trumpet 1 by eknath gomphotherium on Flickr
Herding Cats
Pirate treasure chest