Time to spring clean your fundraising!

Two chihuahuas are covered in soap suds, getting a bath. One sits in a metal tub, and the other sits on top on a pile of folded towels, looking unimpressed!

I was out for a walk in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood over the weekend, and it finally felt like spring was here! The crocuses were blooming, the birds were singing, and the sun was shining.

This time of year always feels like a fresh beginning. So, what better time to roll up your sleeves, and get ready to give your fundraising program a good spring clean!

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, it can be a big fail when it comes to your donors.

Your donors don’t care what your fiscal year is! They make all their donations 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.

Do you have bad data hygiene? (ewwww...)

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

That’s right – bad 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 donors 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 on the single most important priority of your fundraising work - your generous donors?

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?

How do you like to keep your fundraising nice and tidy throughout the year? If you have any of your own spring cleaning tips, share them in the comments below.

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