Nonprofit Experts Weight In: Resolutions for 2013

January 6, 2013

Is there one area nonprofit organizations should focus in on to improve their fundraising results in the upcoming year?

Here’s what the brightest minds in fundraising have to say:


Roger and I each have a resolution. You’ll appreciate that mine needs to come before Roger’s!

Tom: I resolve to improve my nonprofit’s donor retention rate by 10 percentage points in the coming year.

Roger: Tom’s a slacker! I resolve to improve my nonprofit’s donor retention rate by 11 percentage points in the coming year.
The Agitator
Tom Belford
Roger Craver

For an entire year, post this where you can see it daily: “The donor is my customer. And high customer satisfaction is my chief goal.” At the end of the year, you’ll be raising twice as much money.
Tom Ahern

Thank your donors would be my answer for what to do for organization.  In terms of what to do yourself, I’ll share this from my list earlier this week:

Spend at least 15 minutes a day in deliberate thought about something bigger than your to-do list.

This is critical.  I believe in mornings – but for some people, it works best to do this exercise at the end of the day to prepare for the next morning.  What larger purpose defines you right now?  One year from now, what will you be glad you did tomorrow?  Ten years from now?  What are the big things that need to happen to advance those aspirations?  I believe the sum of our efforts each year reflects the rigor we apply to these larger questions.  Take a few minutes each day to ask them.  You may not have every answer, but you’ll make smarter choices along the way – and let the little crap go more easily.  For me, five minutes at the start of my workday plus nightly blogging are tools I use in trying to step out of everyday to-do lists and think about what ideas matter most each day. What tools can you put into place to schedule reflection?
Katya Andresen

Have role models and mentors!

We should all have people we look up to and emulate. Some of my own role models don’t even know they are role models! Others are historical figures — Winston Churchill. On an organizational level, choose an org. that you seek to emulate. Forge a relationship. What do they do well? What lessons can you learn from “the best?”

Once leaders have THEIR role models and mentors, they can instill this culture among their staff.

“If you have someone to look up to, you’ll always be looking up!”
Steve Cebalt

‘Build positive community awareness to your organization in 2013. Review your organization’s goals and make sure that they match the needs of the community. Then gather your staff, volunteers and clients and have them write down WHY they are passionate about your organization. This exercise will make it easier for your stakeholders to talk about your organization from a passionate and personal perspective and help them develop their personal ‘elevator’ or ‘soccer field’ speech. Everyone can contribute to a positive perception of your organization within the community. And it’s fun!
Marti Fischer
Marti Fischer Grant Services, LLC

To make their donor communications more interactive this year.  Instead of send information and updates and asking for money in return, to really seek out a relationship with their donors, to ask for their input and advice, to listen to their stories and to give them meaningful roles, however small, within the organization.
Joe Garecht
Fundraising Authority

Put your sole focus on gratitude, getting closer to your donors and creating deeply personal relationships.  Survey them, take them for coffee, lunch, call them, meet them face to face for the sole purpose of picking their brains (no ask!), send them cards, notes, cupcakes.  In the words of James Taylor “Shower the people you love with love.”
Pamela Grow

Talk with people. Lots of them. Your supporters. Your colleagues. Community members of all kinds. New folks. Even the folks who don’t agree with you. You’ll learn a lot.

Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE

Mobile- now!
I’m not just referring to mobile optimized sites, mobile donations and more- I’m specifically referring to engagement.
– Instagram- an EXCELLENT platform for using pictures to connect and engage with supporters, volunteers and donors
– Foursquare for check-ins
– Tout for video and many, many more. Over 50% of Americans have smartphones- and they use them to read email,  view social media posts, check sites, view pictures and videos. Be there NOW!
Ephraim Gopin,

My one-word resolution would be DONOR CENTERED. To really commit to that and build it and ask donors if your organization is succeeding.
Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE

Whatever you do this year–in life or in fundraising–approach your tasks as though they were a work of art requiring clear intention, creativity and joy.  The quality of your life is largely determined by your attitude.
Andrea Kihlstedt

Start getting into compliance with state regulations in each state where you solicit.
Tony Martignetti, Esq.

My one word would be Focus.

With so many different opportunities to communicate with so many different people, many nonprofit communicators are spinning themselves into a frenzy. It’s time to slow down, get a bit more methodical about your messaging, how you will decide what to say and when to say it, and how you will keep your messaging consistent across all of your communications channels.

Kivi Leroux Miller, President
Nonprofit Marketing Guide & EcoScribe Communications

Stephen Nill, JD

Make 2013 an all-out campaign to love, love, love your current donors.  Slavish attention on them. Invite them to special parties. (Not “donor appreciation events” but “porch parties” instead.) Give them special perks. Invite them to lunch with your CEO. Tell them how important they are. Establish a special communications stream just for them to let them know the successes that they are funding. Overhaul your wording – get rid of “we did this” and instead say to your donors “you did this.”
Gail Perry MBA CFRE  

Commit to ongoing, well-crafted communications that put donors at the heart of all you do.
Lisa Sargent

“Invest for the long-term health of your organization.”  Don’t be short-sighted about the now.  If you really believe in your mission and it fulfills a great need in society then put resources into it that will have positive long-term revenue ramifications down the line.
Jeff Schreifels

May the fundraising force be with you in 2013!
Rainer Spruit
101 Fundraising

Quoting my friend John Kenyon, “After people, data is your most important resource.”  Resolve to put people in charge of your data who understand how it will be used and follow best practices in managing data.  Data needs to be recorded properly and consistently so it can produce useful, accurate, readable reports and analyses of your fundraising, interactions, activities, outcomes, revenues, expenses, and balances.
Robert Weiner



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marion Conway January 10, 2013 at 9:48 am


Thanks for this great list of resolutions. I’m inspired!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: