Everyone Starts at Zero

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

“Everyone starts at zero.”

That was the reminder I got from a manager years ago when I worked in corporate sales. Whether you were the best salesperson the year before—or the worst—you began the new year at $0.

I’m reminded of this in fundraising. Every organization—no matter the size—begins anew in January acquiring, cultivating, and soliciting donors. Regardless of your financial goal, you have the same amount of time as any other organization to develop a clear vision and execute effective programs.

As we shake off the holidays and turn the page to a new year, let’s resolve to prepare ourselves for a successful year with these tips:

  • Gather your numbers. Look at last year’s performance and consider renewal rates, retention rates, upgrades, and the number of new donors acquired.
  • Adjust your budget. Inflation and higher costs for labor, events, and other services mean you may need to raise more and/or cut expenses.
  • Take time to hold a planning session. Bring the team together to evaluate your fundraising programs, set goals, and develop cultivation strategies for donors.
  • Craft your message. Why is your work relevant and urgent this year? What are the new problems or opportunities you face? How will you communicate that to donors?
  • Map out a communications calendar. Create a plan with messaging themes for the year and all the delivery vehicles you will use (email, social media, mail, video, events, etc.).
  • Clean up. Decide what data or files need attention. This is also a good time to develop reports on fundraising performance that will aid in decision-making throughout the year.

Good luck and happy new year!

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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