A Nonprofit New Year:
Five Tips for Starting the Year Right

Ken Marotte Senior Writer AC Fitzgerald Author

Ken Marotte, Senior Writer and Managing Director

The internet is full of great advice on how to leverage opportunities at the end of the year. But what about after December gives way to January? Are there best practices for the beginning of the year, as well?

With 2018 gathering steam, it won’t be long before your attention is consumed by the opportunities and challenges of the day-to-day. Before then, it’s essential to lay a solid foundation for this year’s success. Check out the ideas below for ways your organization can get ahead now and stay there.

1. Develop an annual report. By now you’ve (hopefully) taken stock of 2017 and identified key results and accomplishments. Now’s the time to convert this information into a compelling and visually appealing annual report. A high-quality report will instill confidence in your supporters and recognize those who have helped advance your work. It’s often a vital tool for foundation fundraising, and helps to orient new board members, staff, and other stakeholders to your organization.

2. Create a communication calendar. Consider organizing this year’s writing and marketing work by developing a communication calendar. (If your organization is on the larger side, perhaps this will be a quarterly or semi-annual exercise.) Include everything from social media and blog posts to press releases, newsletters, and donor communications pieces, tracking each by listing responsible parties and expected dates of delivery. A comprehensive calendar will relieve stress, ensure accountability, and propel you to think creatively about how marketing and development can reinforce one another.

3. Refresh acknowledgment letters. Since you want to appear grateful – and competent – to your supporters, you should make every effort to send an acknowledgment letter to each donor within 48 hours after his/her gift is received. Your letter should thank your donors, affirm their decision to support you, and serve as their IRS tax receipt. The letter should also welcome new donors to your ranks. You should include some element – perhaps a success story or quote – that briefly touches on your success over the past year. With 2017 in the rearview mirror, consider which achievements you can relay to highlight your organization’s effectiveness or demonstrate how current events affect your work.

4. Update the copyright year in your footer. At the bottom of most websites, you’ll find something like © 2018 company/organization. While the content on your website is inherently copyrighted, completing the copyright registration process enhances the safety and security of that content even more. Make sure the copyright year in your website footer reflects 2018. By neglecting this easy update, you risk sacrificing your supporters’ confidence by appearing lazy and careless.

5. Work through the parameters of your internship program. Internships have become such an integral part of the student experience that even now, students are starting to consider how they’ll spend the upcoming summer. Think now about how many interns you can accommodate, what work you have for them to do, and how you’ll vet interested candidates. Then upload relevant details to your website and make it easy for young people to apply online. The best candidates tend to start their search early, so act now to ensure that your organization secures the top talent.

A fruitful and productive 2018 depends on laying the groundwork now. Follow these five recommendations and your organization will be well on its way to a year of impact and success.

Ken Marotte serves as Senior Writer and managing Director at AC Fitzgerald. 

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