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Stop Stressing and Start Assessing: A Few Easy Tips to Enhance Your Development Plan

One of the biggest challenges that we all face at some point during our careers is feeling like we don’t know which questions to ask or where we should go for answers. When you are responsible for raising significant funds for your organization and you feel alone, it is not only daunting, but if you don’t ask for help, it can potentially prevent you and your organization from reaching major financial goals.

development plan

Many times board members or nonprofit professionals look to articles or reports about fundraising challenges for solutions or direction, but end up feeling hopeless because the obstacles simply seem insurmountable. You know these types of articles; they tend to reveal a host of statistics that point to a lack of infrastructure within a nonprofit, the reasons the development director or board is struggling to succeed, and the cycles that perpetuate your nonprofit’s inability to raise adequate resources. Oftentimes they provide a myriad of challenges, but don’t give action-oriented solutions that are quick and easy to apply right away.

This is not one of those articles. Below are a few tips for those feeling lost, alone, or frustrated with their current development program. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Set clear goals. You can’t move forward if you don’t know where you are. Don’t underestimate the importance of metrics and deliverables (i.e. gifts secured, average gift size, frequency of contact with donors, etc.). If your current program doesn’t have ways to prioritize goals, it is almost impossible to know how to measure success.

    • Make a work plan. Time is a precious resource. Once you know where you are and how much time you have, you can allocate your time and energy where it will make the biggest impact.

    • Build alliances. The art of development is about engaging others and harnessing their support. This especially applies to development professionals who make up their whole department or organizations or those who don’t yet have a designated fundraiser. Remember, you are relying on human capital, as well as financial support, to achieve your mission.

  • Maintain relationships. It is never a given that a prior supporter will continue to contribute to your organization. It is just as important to harvest the seeds that have come before you as it is to plant new ones.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, focus on actionable solutions, and know that assessing your organization’s current state is the first step towards growth and opportunity. For more information about how to engage in conversations about fundraising assessment or how to begin a strategic development work plan for your organization, contact us. No challenge is too big and our team’s main mission is to help organizations stop stressing so they can start achieving their desired goals.

Want to learn more about how to better advance your fundraising plans and successes? Email Amy Whittaker, Senior Consulting Director at amy@theolivegrove.com to schedule a one-hour session to get clarity and an action plan!

Alana Zavett Green

Alana Zavett Green

Alana Zavett Green has dedicated over a decade of her career to community outreach and engagement through effective fundraising, board development, event coordination, and program execution. Over the years, she has served in a variety of roles, including nonprofit consultant, program director, volunteer manager, educator, spokesperson, and fundraiser; the most meaningful and educational work for Alana has been consulting for and partnering with local and national social service organizations. Alana has independently contracted for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Ben Marion Institute for Social Justice, Hillel of Georgia, and the Temple: Open Jewish Project. \r\n\r\nSince moving to San Francisco in 2011, Alana has gained extensive development experience as the Director of Advancement for the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Serving as the first-full time fundraiser of the twenty-year old organization, Alana worked closely with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors to solicit and steward existing donors and identify a new prospect pool of high capacity donors. The experience of building a development program from its infancy helped hone her skills as a strategic thinker and effective doer. Working for a small and nimble arts organization has also reinforced her appreciation for collaboration and creativity. \r\n\r\nAlana is currently consulting for Olive Grove in a Senior Director capacity.