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  • Writer's pictureLaurel McCombs

Your Three-Minute Year-End Priority Check-in

The last six weeks of the year are, for many fundraisers, some of the busiest of the year. Bob and I recently posted a TOG Chat on prioritizing your year-end activities. It’s only about 20 minutes, but if that feels like more time than you have, here’s your three-minute check in to help you pinpoint your biggest priorities to make the best use of your time in the next few weeks.

1. Define Your Immediate Goals

Your development program has many goals to accomplish throughout the year. But what are the most urgent goals that need to be achieved between now and the end of the year? Do you have a revenue gap that needs to be closed? Are you focused on setting yourself up for hitting some big fundraising goals in 2024? Do you need to use this time to acquire new supporters to help build your program?

Resist the urge to say, “all of the above”. This is part of what leads to overloading our plates. What goals must be achieved now because they are either the most urgent or because of unique opportunities available that will not be available at another time.

2. Assess Your Activities Against Your Goals

Now that you’ve defined your goals, determine which activities are actually helping you achieve them. Be merciless – look at everything you have planned plus the things you’re considering adding to your plate and determine if they help you reach your immediate goals.

If they do, great, how can you make sure they are as impactful as possible? If they don’t, decide if this is something that you can do at another, less busy time, or if it is just something that you can let go of completely. I know it can be hard to let go of things that might see results but consider the opportunity cost – every activity you choose to spend time on means there is something else you are actively choosing NOT to spend time on. Something is going to fall off the plate, make sure it is the thing that isn’t actively contributing to your most immediate goals.

3. Collect the Data You’ll Need to Make Future Decisions

One of the reasons prioritization is so difficult is because we often lack the data we need to make well-informed decisions. Even if we can be laser focused on our most urgent goals, how do we know that our activities are the best ones to reach them? However, our busiest times – like the end of year or major events – are often also the times that we don’t have the extra bandwidth to think about collecting and analyzing the data that will help us make better decisions in the future.

This lack of data creates a vicious cycle of uncertainty that often leads to us just do what we’ve done before or jump on every idea and opportunity that gets put in front of us without consideration about its return on investment. This year, as you focus on your highest priority goals and develop strategies targeted toward them, be sure to also collect the data you’ll need to effectively assess those strategies to help you determine your approach next year.

This checklist isn’t intended to add more to your to do list. But I hope that taking a moment to pinpoint your goals, prioritize your activities based on those goals, and determine how you will measure success, will free you up to focus on the real difference makers. Remember, it's not about doing everything; it's about doing the right things to achieve your goals and set your organization up for success.

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