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Planning

Photo By Ana Tavares, Unsplash

Summer is planning season: Seven suggestions for getting organized

Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, Notes on Nonprofits


­­Summer is a good time for planning. Here are a few ideas to consider adding to your nonprofit’s summer schedule. 

1. Conduct a database audit 

This process is an ideal way to assess the health of your database and determine how many records you have with accurate names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails.

Knowing what’s missing and making the needed changes will help improve volunteer management, fundraising, outreach, and planning. Staff may be able to conduct the audit with help from your database provider. There also are companies and consultants that provide this service if you need an external assessment.

2. Plan a summer board social 

Board members work best as a team when they know, like, and trust each other. The pandemic made this process more difficult in the past two years, which is why is it more important than ever to add social time before, after, or between meetings.

Determine the best way to accomplish this so everyone feels comfortable. It does not have to be fancy; the key is to get everyone there and spend time getting to know each other better. Hosting a social event to build camaraderie within the board will pay dividends throughout the year.

3. Thank the staff 

If you haven’t done so recently, take some time this summer to appreciate the staff. I know a few boards that host and serve breakfast for staff, which is a fun way to bring everyone together over pancakes.

Appreciation can come in many forms, but the most important ingredient is genuine, heartfelt thanks. If you are the board chair, don’t forget to ask the board to join you in showing appreciation to the executive director as well. 

4. Prepare and adopt a new budget

For some nonprofits, their new fiscal year begins July 1 or October 1. Either way, the budgeting process should be in full swing. If your organization does not have a board-adopted budget, take time this summer to develop and adopt one.

It will provide an operational road map for the next 12 months, inform decision making, serve as the basis of grant requests and fundraising plans, and can be amended as the year unfolds.

5. Start thinking about year-end giving

Now is a good time to develop a plan for year-end fundraising. This may include a direct mail campaign that includes emails and social media; a decision to participate in Giving Tuesday 2022; or identifying potential sponsors or matching donors for these efforts.

The earlier your plan is place, the more time you have to build support for the goals and strategies within the board and staff team; identify the need for testimonials and ask people to provide them; and collect photos, write stories, or produce videos that can be shared throughout the holiday season to inspire giving and appreciate givers.   

6. Meet individually with every board member  

Summer is an ideal time for board members and/or executive directors to spend one-on-one time with each other. If your organization is required to comply with the Florida sunshine law, this may be not possible.

For the rest, meeting for lunch, coffee, or whatever works best for them, is an ideal opportunity to connect with each board member, listen to any concerns, and seek out their opinions on important issues facing the organization. This process helps everyone feel seen and heard and builds trusting relationships among board and staff leaders.

7. Update thank you letters

If you are a regular reader of this column, you have heard me recommend this many times. Unfortunately, I still see lots of uninspired, jargon-filled letters that could use an upgrade. Take some time this summer to revisit and update thank you letters that have been used for the past year or longer.

Give them a fresh look and a warm, personal tone that will immediately convey the organization’s heartfelt thanks. Avoid the phrase, “on behalf of the board and staff of ABC organization…” which makes people glaze over and toss the letter as soon as they open it. Write the kind of letter you would want to receive and begin with the word “you”.

In case you missed it, Felina Martin and I hosted a fun debate on the pros and cons of special events earlier this week. We had lots of people participating live, which made for a lively discussion. Watch the recording at facebook.com/NotesOnNonprofits

Notes on Nonprofits is a column in the Tallahassee Democrat produced by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting, and includes resources, responses to reader questions, guest columns, and timeless topics. This column first appeared on Sunday, June 27, 2022. Please send your comments and questions.

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