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Development Fall Planning

no break yet

OK, catch your breath. You made it this far in the year! Your winter and spring mailings, special events, and other activities are behind you. You deserve a break.
But you do not get one!
Now is the time to begin preparations for the fall giving season. (I know, development work is unfair.) Being prepared for the fall giving season divides the excellent development efforts from the "just getting by" development efforts. Your donors know the difference as they see contacts, strategies, and communication from many organizations and can tell the difference.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider when you use the summer months for planning:

  1. Know your goals. Are you on track from January? Are you behind your early goals? Is your fiscal year starting or ending?
  2. Plan new strategies. Are you adding a new strategy this fall? Maybe you are adding a fall dinner, or a small major donor event. Make sure you have planned ahead. It is always difficult to add a new giving strategy during the busy fall. Have everything ready by September 1st no matter when the event is. There is no time to plan after September 1st.
  3. Draft communication pieces. Sometimes we can get our mailing themes ready "just in time". Not good in the fall! Plan your mailing themes/projects for September, October, November and December during the summer. Write the first draft if you can. Again, you will/should be too busy to write from scratch each month. Get a head start on your communication. This can include your newsletter as well. Start the template for your fall/winter newsletter.
  4. Contact major donors. Now is the time to analyze and plan for fall contacts. Check to see how many contacts you have had with your top donors since January. Which ones need more contacts? Which want to be left along until December? Which ones need reminders of their year end commitments in November? Now is the time to start looking at the time you and your Executive Director/CEO will have time to make those contacts in the fall.

Those are just a few ideas to help you begin the planning for the fall giving season. I am sure you can think of more. Use June, July, and August to review your calendar, your goals, and get ready. Spend some "thinking" time just staring at your calendar a bit. See which relationships you might have overlooked, or some new ones you need to add.

Being prepared for the fall is the difference between enjoying the busy work we do in the fall, or dreading it and hanging on for dear life! I hope you have the time to plan and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. Development is hard work, no doubt about it. But this hard work involves connecting the wonderful stewards of our organization to the great cause we are called to. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE