1. Take care of your gold. Chances are that your nonprofit received a larger-than-normal number of gifts last month, and many of them came from new donors. The money that came in will help you do your important work, but the gold I’m talking about is the information that came with each gift. You’ve just started a relationship with someone new that you hope will last a lifetime, right? Here are a few things that your organization should pay attention to:
a. Did the donor pay by check or online? That may give you clues to how they like to interact with you in the future, and making a note of the donation vehicle can be used when you start mining your database for prospects.
b. Did the donor include a note? If so, be sure that the information is entered in your database – it could provide clues for how to engage them later.
c. Did the gift come from a joint account, and if so, did you capture the other name? Spouse/partner names can sometimes be very difficult to find (and of course you’ll want to be sure to thank both donors!).
d. Did the gift come from an elite bank account or a donor-advised fund? This is a wonderful clue that you have a new donor with major gift capacity.
2. Get ready for the year ahead. January is a great time to start with a clean desk and with a renewed look at goals for the coming year (or the second half of a fiscal year, if you’re on the July-to-June track). Amy Sample Ward, CEO of the Nonprofit Technology Network says in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article that now is a great time to start a practice of regularly looking at your “canary metrics” – the numbers that help you do more of what you do well and avoid the things that are killing your area’s performance (maybe without your even knowing it).
3. Get ready for February. Will fundraisers be traveling to meet with snowbirds or ski mavens next month? Up-to-date information will be needed to prepare for those visits, and the earlier you can start the process the better. Now is also a great time to do some mining of your database (or people’s brains!) to find other prospective donors to meet in those locations as well to maximize travel budgets.
Do you have advice to share about things you do every January to get ready for the year ahead? I’d love to hear it.