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As the New Year edges closer, most of us welcome the chance for a fresh start, a clean slate, and new budgets. In an ideal world, the nonprofit budget process brings leaders and implementers together to discuss and determine reasonable growth targets for a nonprofit business plan, and the additional resources needed to help you hit your target.
Does that sound like your situation? Didn’t think so.
At Plenty, we’re lucky enough to work with peer-to-peer fundraising clients that have dedicated themselves to solving the some of the world’s biggest and most important problems, and one crucial way their impact is accomplished is with revenue. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that peer-to-peer program budgets are often set based on gaps in funding and aspirational three-year growth plans. On one hand, that is a realistic way to plan a budget because there are real needs that urgently need solving; on the other hand, it’s pretty terrifying to be the program owner that’s responsible for hitting a 40% growth target.
If you’re this program owner, you probably fall into one of three mindsets: the sunshine-and-rainbow spouting optimist (“No problem! We got this!”), the doom-and-gloom pessimist (“No WAY we’re going to hit that goal”), or the deer in headlights (“Where do I even start?”). Whichever camp you fall into, there are three things you can do to own the budget, feel empowered, and make sure that you’re set up for success in 2015.
1. Know who your key supporters are and cater to them. Typically, around 20% of your constituents are responsible for 80% of your revenue. Therefore it is important to have specific programs in place to recognize these supporters and build loyalty within this group. The goal of these programs if to secure a large portion of these constituents for next year. And if done correctly, the programs can encourage in-between fundraisers to bump their support up to the next level. In the long run, it’s a lot easier to get someone who’s already fundraising to hit a heroic level than it is to get someone who’s not doing anything to start fundraising.
2. Decide and plan what you’ll do differently this year. In this part of your planning, you’ll need to map out the key tasks that have the greatest potential to impact your new goals. You will also need to budget your time and resources ahead of time so that you can accomplish your new initiatives on schedule and within budget. The key here, is to look forward and think of the potential speed bumps you may hit and how to avoid them. Try to account for as many expenses as possible and schedule your time appropriately to ensure projects are completed on time. Sure, it would be great if you could hit that 40% growth mark by doing the same thing over and over again, but realistically, that does not work. Embrace your new initiatives as an opportunity to grow your revenue!
3. Understand trending and timing so that you can build a schedule of key indicators. In the world of peer-to-peer fundraising, the trends, tactics, and technology we use are changing at a swift pace. Setting markers will show you if you’re on or off-track. You’ll be able to make the connection between your actions and your results more clearly, while allowing you the time and flexibility needed to correct your course if necessary. If your indicators are positive, do more of whatever you’re doing! On the other hand, if they’re going the wrong way, take the time to reevaluate your actions. This way, you’ll be able to plan an intervention that can get you back on track quickly.
Revenue and growth targets are dictated to many of us, and usually without the chance to weigh in on what you think is achievable. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t shy away from it; own it! Take the reins on implementing your budget this year, and set yourself up for success by accepting the target and working towards it with new fundraising strategies and initiatives. Even better, start early so that next year, you can insert yourself into the budgeting process right at the beginning, and help determine a growth number that’s a little more reasonable, like 39%! Make sure you are taking the appropriate steps to set yourself up for success in 2015 – your mission depends on it.