03 Jan And that brings us ‘round to Do, oh, oh, oh……
Start again. January of another year. 2016 is over. History.
Fa, sol, la, ti, Done.
And January brings us ‘round again to Do.
2017 yawns before us. It could be anything. What will it be for you?
January is a good time for reflection. Where have we been? How did we get here? What could we have done differently? What have we learned?
* * * * *
For example: Do you hold on to your email? You shouldn’t. It clogs up the server, and someone once told me that claiming they have to go through your email is a classic strategy for FODs (Forces of Darkness) to use in lawsuits. But you can use the exercise of tossing your email as an opportunity to reflect on your entire year. Here’s one way to do it:
- Set the presentation sort to “From” instead of “Date”
- Quickly go through and delete everything you can delete without thinking. Spam, updates, blog notifications, news alerts, that kind of stuff.
- Then go back somewhat more patiently, and look for attachments. Are there things you really want? Will ever use? Have already saved? Can these be saved in a folder somewhere and then deleted from your email?
- Now look at the rest. Are they from people you care about? Do they carry some meaning for you? Can they be saved permanently as text files or in an archive? (I have the best email conversations with my wife, and I always save the threads every year in an archive file.) Can they be summarized in some way or (dare I say) printed? Do they remind you of someone you have neglected, or something left undone from 2016? Can you deal with that and then delete?
- Now – trust me on this – put all the rest in an email folder called 2016 Trash Staging, and forget about it. On a dozen or so occasions next year, you will have some reason to go back through those emails to find something you vaguely remember, but it won’t happen very often.
- Save that folder for three years and then close your eyes and press delete. You’ll not regret it. If you already have this habit, you can now delete the 2013 file. You’re welcome.
* * * * *
Did you write yourself letters last year? – about the development plan, the board campaign, the membership drive, the communications theme, or the fundraising event? If so, now is a great time to go back and read what you wrote back then. What have you learned? What will you do differently this year?
* * * * *
Now look ahead. I’m looking at three checklist items each year in January: A new communications theme, getting my board campaign organized, and making sure my donor contacts for 2017 are well planned and organized. More on these items next week.
* * * * *
I’ll leave you with this: I use January 9th – in about a week – as my cut-off for membership counts. Very few checks arrive in the mail before the 9th that are actually intended to be dated in January. Most of them are intended to be 2016 gifts. So the 9th works out really well. If you are planning to participate with me in getting good baseline information for your membership, plan to spend part of next Tuesday counting how many people actually gave you money in 2016 – between 1/9/16 and 1/8/17. And do let me know what your number is.
And that reminds me of my favorite accounting trick. For each check that arrives between 1/1 and 1/9, enter it into your database as a 12/31 pledge so that it creates an accounts receivable. That way it counts more officially as a 2016 gift. Then, when you enter the actual check on the date it arrives, it becomes a pledge payment rather than a new gift.
Photo by Stefan Kunze courtesy of Stocksnap.io.