Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year. This is the time of year that I do a lot of planning—in my personal life and in my professional life. I think of it as inventing my own future (and the future of my nonprofit organization). A new year is a like an empty canvas. Be a planning artist and paint your canvas with your dreams for the year. Because it’s usually a bit slower after the year-end rush of holidays and end-of-year giving, January is a good time for planning.

Populate Your Calendar

As a first step to planning a new year, I always start with a calendar. Whether you use a paper or an electronic calendar, start by populating your calendar with the meetings of your nonprofit.

You will probably have regular board and staff meetings to calendar.

Maybe your nonprofit has fundraising or other events. Get these on your calendar and, if you don’t have a specific date, put your event on the month you think (hope) it will happen.

Be looking at holidays as you put things on the calendar as you might need to adjust if regular meetings fall on or near a holiday.

If you, or your staff, attend annual conferences, workshops or other training sessions, note these on your calendar.

Look at your fundraising plans and calendar all activities. Make the investment of time to plan your year of success!

Set Your Organizational Goals

As I plan my year, I’m thinking of organizational goals. I think of these goals as New Year’s Resolutions for my nonprofit organization. Hopefully, you’ve worked with your Board to establish annual (or even longer-term) goals. Now is the time to develop your plan to reach these goals. This planning should include a review of progress by staff and board, along with time to revise and adjust activities as necessary.

FundraisingIP has a great checklist for January planning: http://www.fundraisingip.com/fundraising/new-year-planning-checklist-non-profits/.

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