By Angie Joens
It is nearly the end of the fiscal year for many of us. I love and hate this time of year. Everyone is tired, a little punchy (including me), and ready for sunshine and a lot of R&R. But before we can get to the fun, there's some important work we need to do. In fact, at DRG we believe it's the most important thing you can do right now to set you and your team up for success in the coming year. It isn't fun or exciting, but we promise it'll be worth it. Pause, evaluate, and plan!
It's time to review performance, plan your budget, and create a business plan for the coming year. To do that, reflect on what worked and what didn't. Study your data, determine what is worth your time and what you need to eliminate, talk to your partners about what they want to accomplish next year, and make alliances and agreements to work together toward your goals.
I can hear you all now – who has time to do all this analysis and planning?
If I'm being honest, no one. We all have a million other things to do, but just like anything else that's important in your life, you have to make time to evaluate your program. How does that famous quote go? "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." It is true my friends Benjamin Franklin would not lie, and neither would I.
The end of the year is the perfect time to pause, reflect, analyze, revise, and plan. If you get in the habit of doing this annually, you can keep your program in tip-top shape. By looking at your programs, policies, processes, guidelines, events, and projects annually, you can keep things updated and current. You can include your leadership, partners, and team members in the planning process, so you are doing it together. You can get the buy-in needed to move all your plans forward and set expectations. And if you need more proof, the National Council of Nonprofits also recommends that organizations review their policies annually.
Annual reviews are important, and they are within your control. But often, other moments in your organization's life or world events can also be a trigger to create some urgency to review, reflect and revise, such as:
A change in leadership
Closing or planning a campaign
Organizational or team restructures
Loss of staff or team members
After a crisis or problem is identified
Major societal changes (ala pandemic, focus on DEI, impending recession)
Hybrid work arrangements
And so much more
One real-life example we all encountered in the spring of 2020 was the pandemic. It forced us to think about our work differently. Overnight we had to create new processes, policies, and procedures. We had to change how we did our work, communicated with our donors and prospects, did events, and sent endowment reports. It all had to change because the world changed. And some of these changes were necessary, long overdue, and improved our outreach and engagement efforts.
Planning and evaluating your programs, policies, guidelines, structures, and employees may not be the sexiest of tasks, but it is critical to maintaining the effectiveness of your program. If you regularly do this, you set your team, yourself, and your organization up for success.
Are you evaluating and planning for the coming year? If not, what's holding you back? If so, what are some of the challenges you're facing along the way? Let us know in the comments below — we're always here to help!