Avoid Getting Sidetracked: Educating While Planning

vectorstock_304328-smHave you ever sat in a meeting with a board member, other staff member, or volunteer (or even consultant) who gives you a list of new things to try? All of a sudden you’re saddled with more work, more expectations, and still limited time to get everything done in.

Let’s change the scenario a little bit. Perhaps you have taken the time to put together your thoughts, map out time requirements) and have a plan in place that has been approved by your board or senior staff. The meeting happens again. Only this time, after the generous thoughts are offered, you provide your plan and say ‘those are great ideas. What should I stop doing so I’ll have the time to try this new thing?’ And of course you’ll ask this question tactfully.

That’s one often-overlooked benefit of having a plan in place. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the ‘next best thing’ when you’re not following a well thought out plan.

If you engage others in the process of developing your plan, it can serve as an educational process for your board and other staff members. Here are some tips of things to have in mind if you take advantage of treating planning this way:

  • Be realistic about how much time different activities take (if you’re like me you might be overly ambitious about how much you can get done).
  • Don’t assume that people know the same things you know about fundraising effectiveness. Many people don’t realize the huge difference in response rates for direct mail appeals versus in-person requests. Gather data so that you’ll be able to share it (again in a tactful manner).
  • While you’ll have an idea of what you want the plan to look like, be open to suggestions that might come up. There might be new strategies that can replace some of your current strategies. Of course taking into consideration effectiveness and cost (I can’t emphasize the importance of data collection enough).
  • Try to involve any people who will be impacted by the direction of this plan – that could include people from accounting, IT, administrative support, etc. There may be things you think are easy that turn out to be a lot more complicated. It’s easier to overcome those challenges if you have everyone on the same page to begin with.

Hopefully this will provide a little information to help you begin to develop your fundraising plan. Have suggestions? Have questions? Let me know!


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