Finish The Year With A Bang, Start Your Fundraising Checkup List

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Tis’ the season to start holiday planning. In fact, one organization I work with is doing just that while finalizing plans for its yearly fundraising finale, the annual campaign drive.

But because so many new people, programs and fundraising initiatives were introduced this year I recommended a “checkup” first.  To make sure everything’s been “stirred in” and still works on the fundraising side.

We’ll meet soon to talk about what the “checkup” should look like, but as I think through it all why not share a few things I’ve come up with so far? I’d love to hear what else folks are looking at during their checkups too. 

A few things I suggest we look into are:

Right on Time? Are contribution documents getting to donors timely? Something to think about since they’ve had several events go on around the same time. And implemented a donor database. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to quality check acknowledgments for the information tax law requires, like the date, description of donated property, etc.

Mission: Possible? Do fundraising programs still further the mission? There’s been a few shifts and pivots, I wonder if that’s made existing programs incompatible.  And even where a fundraising program isn’t incompatible, is it still an efficient use of resources? If not, is there a way for them to refresh it or should time of death be called?

How Much Again? Are fundraisers still in line with the budget? Or has there been surprises on the expense side? And are they it bringing in as much as anticipated, or should goals be re-evaluated?

Accounting. I think its really important we audit a few books and records to confirm donations go to the appropriate accounts. And that they’re reflected in the right line items. I know a few campaigns received gifts with limitations (like limiting use to a specific program), so someone should check  whether limitations are being honored.

Compliance. Everyone should be complying with the organization’s policies, industry practice and the law.  Maybe we double check filings, reports, bonding and registrations where the fundraising law in certain areas require that. And whether the scope of  programs has expanded in such a way that a place not previously thought about requires we look at compliance there. 

There are a few other things I’ll probably suggest, I’m still brainstorming. It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the team comes up with too.

Then there are the next steps. As we move out of brainstorming and into action, a big hurdle I see is focus. We’ll need to sit down and chip away at the list until we’re left with a few big priorities. Otherwise, we’ll take on so much nothing will get done. That or we’ll get through the list but I’ll be on the entire staff’s hit list.

After that I assume we’ll need to break everything down into an action plan and decide on dates. As an OCO (Over-Compulsive Organizer) this makes me as excited as I was when I found out the Pumpkin Spice Latte was debuting early this year. Maybe more.  But I imagine I’ll need to bring a few of those in to appease the “why so many charts” crew at the table. Small price to pay.

In the meanwhile, if you’ve done a similar audit or checkup be sure to mention it in the comments. Would love to hear the experiences other organizations have had.