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Congratulations, You Survived Another Year!

January 5th, 2011

For many fundraisers, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is dreaded the most.  It’s the sink-or-swim season, when everything you’ve got is thrown into appeals, hoping to make coffers swell.  Did you feel like you were drowning for a while?

A lot of organizations won’t know their final totals and how successful their efforts were for a few more weeks yet, until the dust settles and everything is entered, counted and analyzed, but as you’re winding down and regrouping, consider an additional question:  Did you accomplish everything you wanted to this year?

Making the overall campaign goal is certainly important, as well as increasing your average gift, number of donors, acquisition, and your other fundraising markers.  Beyond that, however, surely there are aspirations that you, as a fundraiser have made that too often take a back seat or get forgotten in the frenzy.

Were you hoping to spend more time in the field this year, so that you’ve gotten additional experience working with major donors?  Did you want to take a course in grant writing?  Have you been meaning to learn how to use Facebook and/or Twitter, or did you just want to grasp your database’s reporting system better, so that you don’t have to ask someone else to run them each week?  Perhaps it’s time to study for the CFRE exam and become certified in your profession.

Whatever it is that you would like to learn, improve or accomplish, make a point to consciously add it to your goals and calendar for 2011, instead of just getting around to it in your “spare time.”  The rest of the year may not be as frantic as year-end, but fundraisers rarely have any time to spare.

Just as you map out how you’re going to reach your fundraising goals:

•     I’m going to visit ___ prospects
•     I’m going to send ___ mailings
•     I’ll make ___ phone calls each week

so should you plan your career goals:

•     I’m going to take that grant writing class
•     I will create and use my Twitter account on a regular basis
•     I’m going to study for and take the CFRE exam this year

Keep in mind that you don’t have to navigate these waters alone, either.  It’s always helpful when your organization offers guidance and training, and your co-workers and supervisor are supportive, but even if that is the case, getting another perspective can be very beneficial.  (And, of course, for many people, their work environment is not as educational and supportive as they’d hoped, so that’s all the more reason to seek help elsewhere.)

Networking with a variety of others, through professional organizations such as AFP, CASE, AHP, APRA and NTEN, provide a plethora of resources that one nonprofit simply cannot offer alone, regardless of its size.

Another wise investment in your career is to spend one-on-one time with a mentor in the field – preferably someone who has particular experience in the area that you see yourself headed toward in a few more years.  Networking in larger professional groups is a good way to gain exposure to more people in general, however, to get a better idea overall of what direction you see yourself taking in the future.

As you begin tallying and analyzing those figures coming in, keep in mind that boosting numbers isn’t the only objective you should be striving for.  Certainly you want to raise more money, but consider what you’ll do to hone your craft this year and boost yourself as well as the organization.

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Starting in 2011, blog posts will alternate weekly, and the Annual Giving columns and the Fix It Or Forget It? columns will appear on Wednesdays.

____________________________________________________________________________________Good Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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