New Year’s Resolution: The Case for a Development/Fundraising Calendar
Updated: Jan 20
A simple calendar. This is one of the most valuable tools that costs your organization virtually nothing to put together, but it can cost you a whole lot if you do not have one.
One of the things that we all enjoy the most about every New Year is the promise of something different, something hopeful, something better.
Resolutions are everywhere – individually, many of us pledge to exercise more, eat better and otherwise somehow become a better version of ourselves.
As sports organizations emerge from easily their most challenging year of existence – one in which they were forced by the reality of pandemic-based shutdowns to identify revenue streams that go beyond participant fees – many organizations are making New Year resolutions of their own…
They are committing to becoming more organized, more professional and thus more sustainable.
A good friend and loyal donor gave me invaluable advice when I made the transition from college soccer coach to fundraiser just over a decade ago. First, he said, “I don’t mind being the tip of your pyramid…I just mind being the whole pyramid. You need to get other people involved and deepen and broaden your pool of donors.” Roger that.
Secondly, he outlined our need to become more systematic, and less episodic with our fundraising. He explained, “when you guys need money, you call me. Beyond that, there does not seem to be a strategy, a plan or a calendar of activity. Your approach is not pro-active (systematic), it is reactive (episodic).” This spoke volumes to me.
I immediately remembered creating my own calendar as a college and club coach, which was essentially a merger of multiple calendars: academic (Fall/Spring), Admissions (deadlines, etc.), athletic (Fall-traditional season, Spring-non-traditional season), recruiting, alumni outreach, club schedules, summer camps, personal life (family, etc.)
Around this time of the year, I remember tying up the last pieces of our spring schedule at the Convention…and hearing how many of my friends and colleagues had not yet begun to schedule their spring schedules. That usually worked out well for me, as we usually got our pick of the better Division I spring opponents as a result. The early bird gets the worm, right?
So, what does all of this mean for fundraising?
Simply put, it is essential that you develop a plan and schedule for all fundraising activity (mailings, email, social media posts, events, etc.) that fits logically within the framework of all of your other core activities (tryouts, billing, competitive schedules, tournaments, holidays, etc.), and allows for the right thing (type of interaction), the right way (which includes the right time), with and for the right people (your constituents).
You may (or may not) be shocked to learn that an overwhelming majority of youth and college sports organizations at ALL levels do not have a calendar in place that seamlessly allows for sensible interaction with donors, sponsors and/or other constituents.
If you are one of those organizations, don’t worry – you are certainly not alone. That said, you should probably take a serious look at how to become more systematic, organized and focused.
When do you ask? When do you thank? When do you just check in? It all matters...
That said, you should probably take a serious look at how to become more systematic, organized and focused..
The best way to begin is to simply take out your calendar and plug in your activity (use your past activity to plan your future). Code your activity accordingly (by color, etc.) and see if and how different parts of your business interact (and potentially conflict) with your existing activity.
This is certainly not rocket science, but the challenge is not the complexity of the exercise…it is an organization’s willingness and ability to commit to doing it in the first place.
If you are not sure where to begin and need help with this activity, or would like to ask what (communication to your constituents, fundraising campaigns and/or ‘asks’) works well with what (timing, trends, solutions, best practices, etc.) please feel free to reach out to me directly at Ted@Fundraise4U.net and I will be happy to help.
Here’s wishing you and your organization all the very best this New Year – we hope that by becoming more systematic and organized, your organization or team will evolve into a more efficient and effective fundraising entity.