Fundraising 101

Is March too Late for New Year’s Resolutions?

Welcome to the very first edition of Giving Tree Associates’ quarterly newsletter, the L.E.A.F., our quarterly guide to leadership, executive search, assessments, and fundraising. Our intent is to provide you with timely, interesting information that will help you and your nonprofit grow. If there is something special that you would like to learn more about, let us know.

For the past two months, many of my clients have asked me about my resolutions this year and it’s made me realize that there are some changes I would like to make in how how I serve my clients and how I balance my professional and personal commitments. Although I’m not typically someone who makes big resolutions in a new year, I also know that change comes through goal setting and taking small steps to change my behaviors (check out Atomic Habits by James Clear, which I started reading last weekend).

I’ve also been asked by these same clients for advice on what they should resolve to do better this coming year. In particular, they want to know what small steps they can take to increase their fundraising and better serve their organizations. But it’s March already and many have wondered if it’s too late for change. I say it’s never too late. So, after many conversations, I’ve put together this list of the most important things you can resolve to do in 2019 that will help boost your bottom line, increase your job satisfaction and give you more time to focus on what’s important.

  1. Say thank you more often. This one is simple, but it matters. Make time to thank your donors, board members, volunteers and colleagues for everything they do to serve your mission. Whether it’s a quick email, handwritten note, or a phone call, the simple expression of gratitude goes a long way.
  2. Set goals and make a plan. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Nonprofit management and fundraising is hard work. Given how much we all do with very few resources, it’s easy to skip this task and fly into execution mode without a roadmap. The best and most successful fundraising comes from thoughtful planning and disciplined execution. Use this quiet(er) time to put together a plan with revenue goals and a calendar for implementation. Let me know if you want a sample. I’m happy to send you one.
  3. Know your numbers better. It’s important to stay on top of your revenue and look for trends from year-to-year. But, don’t forget to look at other numbers too: number of donors, your donor retention rates, average gift amounts, event attendees, volunteers. All of these numbers tell you important things about your organization’s health. If you know them, you can make changes along the way in order to meet goals.
  4. Pick one thing to stop doing. This one is harder than you think. It’s easy to maintain the status quo and do the same thing year after year. Whether it’s an event, a mailing, or a nasty habit (like checking your e-mail in bed), pick one thing that is not adding to your success and vow to give it the boot. I promise you won’t miss it.
  5. Make your meetings more efficient. Nonprofits are great at having meetings. It’s in our collaborative, community-focused DNA to seek consensus and bring people together. But all of these meetings eat up precious hours that we should be spending with our donors, our clients and our families. Vow this year to make changes in how you meet. My friend Shani Harmon is an expert in running efficient meetings and increasing productivity. Click here to read some of her amazing insights into how we can do better.

I hope you can pick one or more of these ideas and put them to use as you start off the new year. If you want to share any of your thoughts or comments, please e-mail me directly at

A very belated happy new year,

Jamie Klobuchar
Senior Consultant & Director of Business Development