This is the time of year where we start talking about how fast everything is moving….  Two minutes ago it was summer, and we felt like we had all the time in the world to dream, plan and strategize.  Now, we’re into the second quarter and some of us might be entering a panic zone if we don’t have much to show for it yet.  Here are a few tips that might get you back on track and feeling like you have a plan:

1)   Today, right now, like right after you finish reading this, sit down with your fundraising thought partner (your ED, DoD, Board Chair, Development Chair, etc.) and create a plan for the stewardship of your top 5 – 8 donors and prospects.  Your goal is to be sure you are in contact (this should involve both light and heavy touches) with these key stakeholders four to six times this year.  Only one should be a solicitation.  The others should be coffee, lunch, personalized emails, personalized invites to events, and phone calls.  The key here is to chart it out on a calendar or spreadsheet and make it intentional. Do this today…or tomorrow.  But not next month.

2)   Schedule a rating and assignment meeting with your development committee.  Don’t have one?  See #4.  Don’t know what a rating and assignment (or qualification) meeting is?  It’s perhaps one of the most important meetings of the year in the development world.  Again, gather your fundraising thought partners (ED, DoD, board members, board chairs, development committee members/chairs, etc.) and develop a plan for the solicitation, cultivation and stewardship of every major gift donor and/or prospect.  Assign a relationship manager to each individual on your list.  You do not have time to do this for every donor on your list, and this is why you must define what a major gift is for your organization (is it $1,000, $1,800, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 or more?) and commit to a one-on-one solicitation for those at this level and above.

3)   Create a calendar or timeline for all that must be accomplished within the development department through the end of the fiscal year.  Then, refer back to the calendar every single week during staff or supervision meetings to be sure that time is not getting away from you and your team is focused on the priorities.  Working according to a campaign plan and a comprehensive calendar tends to be the #1 factor that allows development teams to stay on track.

4)   Schedule a meeting for your development committee.  This can involve both board and non board members.  Some members be focused on events, some will focus on major gifts, others can think about your target markets and plans to engage them (alumni, parent, grandparents, community members, etc).   Roll out the campaign plan and the campaign calendar and allow your lay partners to help you activate the plan.

The time to act is now – don’t let November hit you in the face on its way in.  Should you need help getting your plan together, Giving Tree is here to help.