We all know how hard it is to get back to work after spending time off for the holidays. Sometimes it helps to have a special project or two to help us get back into the routine. I’ve often recommended that we set aside some time in January to focus on projects that may not get done during the course of a busy year. I call these the Advancement New Year’s Resolutions. Much like regular New Year’s resolutions, they may not be the easiest or most fun projects, but they will help you keep the advancement office moving forward. Here, then, are a few New Year’s resolutions to get you started. Feel free to add more of your own.
1. Use January to begin planning a spring professional development activity for your foundation board. With so many other priorities, we sometimes neglect board development. However, we know that good board development goes hand in hand with creating a sustainable vision for the future of your institution’s advancement goals. Sometimes we put this off so long that we may even skip a year. Putting professional development planning on your January calendar will help you avoid this problem.
2. January is also a good time to review your board policies and by-laws. Sure, I know that it seems like you’ve just done this. However, things change quickly in the advancement business and so an annual review is always a good idea.
3. Use January as a time to review your planned giving portfolio. Create an annual calendar of when reports are due, payments need to be made, and stewardship visits need to happen. Too often, especially in smaller advancement offices, we tend to neglect those assets that are already catalogued. Many times, however, properly stewarded and managed planned gifts can lead to something even larger down the road.
4. Conduct a January review of your scholarship fund accounts. Often our scholarship funds are full of small accounts that have remained inactive in our books for years. By themselves they are often too small to have much of an impact. Do you have policies in place that allows you to consolidate small accounts after a set time of being inactive? This is a good time to plan new policies and procedures for scholarship account management.
5. January is also a good time to begin thinking about advancement priorities for the next academic year. Are your fundraising initiatives in line with the college mission and strategic vision? I often recommend scheduling time with the college’s leadership team to provide an overview of what you’ve accomplished and to lead a discussion that can help with establishing next year’s goals.
As I mentioned, these are just some suggestions. The idea is to use January as a time to focus on important functions that you may not get to at other times of the year.
As always, the team at Rich Gross Solutions is available to help you with these and other advancement services.