Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums and Year End Budget

As we prepare our home for the steady stream of holiday visitors I find my mind wandering. The simple acts of baking shortbread, dipping chocolates, wrapping presents and doing dishes is a welcome respite from commuting in bad weather and pressures of strategic planning. Watching the snow fall outside as I do these small tasks provides the luxury of time to think and reflect on conversations with other fundraisers. They all have talked about how their campaigns have extraordinary momentum and they have exceeded their budgets. WOW! Am I the only fundraiser in the world who hasn't met her targets? Or am I the only honest one? hmmmm....

Those of you who follow the Fundraising Recession Watch blog have had the opportunity to know exactly how I've spent the final quarter of 2008. Courtesy of Sean Triner, Parts I, II, III and IV outline in detail the approach we have taken to boost revenue in the last quarter of this past year.

The motivation to organize what is being referred to as a "micro-campaign" really started at the impromptu economic crisis session at IFC this past October. That session was where it occurred to me for the first time that we were not going to see an influx of donations of securities at the end of this year. Howard Lake captured this realization to share with the world on You Tube.

On the way home it became very clear to me that status quo wasn't going to take our foundation where it needed to be at the end of 2008. We would all have to work harder.

The last ten weeks involved a lot of meetings with corporations, major donors, board members and prospects. I was out of the office more than I was in the office. My cell phone was constantly ringing. Board members and senior volunteers were a daily part of my life as were conversations with donors. We segmented our mailing lists more ways than I can count, signed the letters by hand, enlisted external help to mail letters and followed up those letters with phone calls. It has been a very very busy three months. The result?

Instead of being $200K short of budget we will only be $100K short. Yes this is about the same amount of money we raised last year and our reserves are in good shape, however, the reality is we will still fall short. I fell short.

A lot of people I work with could find excuses for not realizing the budget. The recession, our plans for growth were too ambitious, capacity issues, vacancies on the board, politics, turn over of staff, competition...... The usual list.

I think the reason we did not achieve goal is because it was too little too late. Everything we did as part of the "micro-campaign" were things that needed doing for the entire year.

Next year we will have to do better.

Something different is going to have to happen in 2009. I'll have to think about that. Once I figure out the strategy I will share it with you here so be sure to sign up as a follower to this blog.

Right now the only thing I know for sure is that I need a holiday in order to prepare myself for the year ahead. Also that the kids are asleep and it is time for Santa to arrive...

Merry Christmas and thank you for spending time here.

PS If you were challenged by this years events and perhaps fell short of your targets, the company would be welcome.

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