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Top 5 Tips for Planning your New Fiscal Year

The summer is flying by! We’re about to watch fireworks, wave our American flags, and for some of us, we’ll soon be shopping for school supplies and getting ready to put our children back on the bus. In the meantime, though, we’ve entered a new fiscal year. Do you feel a fresh start coming on? Here are a few new fiscal year resolutions to consider for your new nonprofit year.

Yes-61. Take a look at (or create) your organization’s master calendar. What big events, programs or other notable things will happen during the next 11 months? Perhaps each year your staff has done a good job publicizing those things through more traditional means. If you haven’t already considered all the ways social media can help you get the word out there about your organization and what it’s doing, put a plan together to preview and review these things throughout the year. Can you put together a photo gallery of your donor celebration on Facebook and flickr? Would a board member consider doing a guest blog post about the success of a particular event or program at a meaningful time of the year? Think creatively and figure out how to make sure your traditional and online audiences know what you’re up to and when.

2. Create a content calendar, a good complement to your master calendar (need a template?). What will you communicate to your audience when you’re not gearing up for a special event? What will your staff blog about each week? When might donor communications be dropped in the mail (back up from there – when will you be writing those pieces?)? When are the grant deadlines you know now you’ll want to apply for? Fill it all in. Step back. Examine. Delegate responsibilities among your staff. Add to board and staff member meeting agendas time to discuss these responsibilities throughout the year.

3. Start doing grant research. First, list out what you know you want to apply for. Consider where you’ve had funding success in the past couple years. Can you apply for those same grants again in the next year? Or, if you’ve not received some of the funding you’ve applied for and gotten good feedback as to why, consider reapplying again this year with your new knowledge to help you. Then, think about new connections your organization has made within the community in the last year. Are there foundations with which you now have warm relationships that would be willing to grant you money in the next year? Think about how and when to approach them, or put their grant deadlines on your list. Now, think about areas for which you’ve never received grant funding before. Perhaps you’ve added a new component for your programming this year. Or maybe you’ve added a new client demographic to those you were already serving. Do some research. Where are some likely areas where funding might be granted in these areas? Finally, think BIG. What are your pie-in-the-sky grant wishes? Shoot for the moon. Which organizations/foundations/corporations would you approach that you’d be so thrilled to receive money from them you’d shout their praises from the rooftops? Put their deadlines down on your list too. Again, step back and examine. Fill in the important dates on your master calendar.

Happy new year scrabble4. Can you name something you know your organization should be doing but isn’t? Perhaps it’s creating and maintaining a blog, growing a Twitter presence or reaching a new audience. Does it seem scary? Even if the answer is yes, consider the benefits that would come with successfully implementing this task. Will your organization be better off if this task happens and happens well? Then what are you waiting for? 2013-14 is your year. Commit to it. Do it. Then in a year reassess and pat yourselves on the back no matter the outcome.

5. List out this past year’s accomplishments. Goal setting is great, but what about what you’ve already done well? Don’t forget to celebrate it. No matter how big or small, in the past year, what did your organization and its members do well? Where did it grow? What happened that you never expected? Write them down. Share the list in your next board meeting and staff meeting. Then do the same thing this time next year and to see how much you’ve accomplished.

And have a happy new (fiscal) year!

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