3 steps to spring clean your fundraising

I was out for a walk this morning, and you could feel it - spring is in the air!

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and all the fresh green shoots are starting to pop out of the soil… 🌱

This time of year always feels like a new beginning. And even for our southern hemisphere friends heading into the chillier, shorter days of autumn, the change of seasons is still an ideal time to give your fundraising program a good spring clean!

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.

Blow the cobwebs off your fundraising plan

First, let's dust off that fundraising plan (you do have one, don’t you?), to see how you are progressing towards your goals.

Have you been staying focused on your top priorities, or is ‘shiny object syndrome’ pulling you away from what’s most important?

Is there anything you included in your plan that just isn’t working, that you may want to adjust moving forward? Are there any internal stakeholders you need to keep updated on the successes and failures of the plan so far?

An important side note on plans here: in my travels, I’ve seen many organizations craft their fundraising plan to fit their fiscal year. While this may make sense to your board and finance folks, this approach can fail when it comes to your donors.

Your donors don’t care what your fiscal year is! They typically make their donation decisions based on the calendar year, and your plan needs to reflect that.

And PLEASE - whatever you do, don’t make a last minute fundraising request a few weeks before your fiscal year-end because you’re anticipating a budget shortfall.

Sure, you may get some gifts from big-hearted donors in the short run, but trust me, “we have a deficit” is never a compelling case, and can cause immeasurable damage to your relationship with your donors over the long run.

Give your data a good scrub!

Your fundraising program will only ever be as good as your data.

Poor data hygiene can doom your fundraising. It doesn’t matter how stellar your plan, or compelling your case – if your data isn’t good, your fundraising will never come close to reaching full potential.

A great place to start keeping your data clean is making sure your data entry processes are well documented. If you don’t have data entry policies and procedures, it’s never too late to start building them.

And if you do have your data entry processes documented, now’s a great time to review them to make sure they are still accurate and in line with best practices - as well as making sure everyone who has access to your database has all their training up to date!

Clean out that calendar, and make space for some donor time

Last, but definitely not least - how are your donors doing?

Did you make all of the donor visits, phone calls, and warm, personalized thank yous you had planned for the first quarter of the year?

If not, what got in the way? Did you get caught up in putting out fires, or get pulled away by urgent but less important matters? If so, how can you protect your time in the future to make sure you are able to stay focused? 

And get those visits and calls scheduled! It’s spring – the perfect time for a fresh start, and what better way to renew your passion for your work than a meaningful, personal connection with your donors?

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