21 Jul Taking Stock – Q2
Back in May, I talked about periodically using some reflective time to “take stock” of where you are right now versus where you thought you’d be at this time (See Taking Stock). Presumably, if you acted on the advice, you a) redoubled your effort to close all of your board commitments, b) evaluated your renewal rates, c) set up summer activities designed to get your board members and your donors together, and d) started thinking about your fall events.
Good! Time to do it again!
Fundraiser’s Almanac: July
One July, my board chair came to me with a request that I “forecast” where we would end up on December 31st in each of our revenue targets. He was trying to get information so that he could advocate for “putting on the brakes” or “pulling out the stops” as the situation warranted.
I’ve thought about that a lot since then. July is really the earliest point at which tracking the information is worthwhile, but if doing so means that you avoid a head-on collision in December and January, your effort will be worthwhile.
For this to work, you must have budgeted well in the first place. You must have a fundraising goal that is specifically tied to your program goals, and it is clearly broken down by audience and activity. So, for example, you know that to meet your fundraising goals, you must raise a certain amount – $30,000, for example – from foundations.
The forecasting question is simply this: Given what I know right now about what foundations have committed, and what I know right now about what grant requests are still out there, and what I know right now about the grants I will yet write in the fall, can I still project getting to $30,000?
Perhaps you had three home runs back in April and you’ve already raised $25,000 with half the year and your best foundation prospects left in front of you. Maybe now you feel good about forecasting $40,000 or even $50,000 for the year.
On the other hand, maybe that $15,000 grant you were counting on – you know, the one that has always come in every year in May? – maybe that one didn’t happen for you for whatever reason this year. Then maybe a $10,000 forecast is more realistic.
The point is that the budget is what the budget is. You don’t go back and change the budget. You add a column to your financial report called “Forecast.” Enter the “best guess” number for foundations, and then go through a similar exercise for each audience. Are you essentially on target overall? Are you ahead of the game? Are you behind? And regardless, what are you going to do about it now?
Keep in mind that there’s still time this year to take some actions that will affect how much you can raise in the fall. There’s also still time to cut back on expenses if need be.
I recommend populating the Forecast column in July and then again in October, November, and December.
What else are you thinking about in July?
PS: While you are looking ahead, notice that next year is a Presidential election year – the first since 2008 (before the recession) in which the incumbent will not be running. Know that there will be increased pressure on fundraising in general. Plan for it.
Photo credit: American Avocet courtesy of Walt Kaesler.
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