Reinforcing the Basics | Building Your Skillset
If you are like me, you are thinking a lot about your goals for this year. As this year comes to a close, now is the perfect time to refocus on essentials while expanding on potential. Let’s talk about advancement planning and what it can do for your ministry!
True advancement planning occurs when you’re looking at all the various components through an entire giving year in one specific planning season. (My hope is you’ve already begun this process, but if not aim to finish up by February at the latest.)
Essential Disciplines of Planning
Update Your Yearly Giving Scorecard
Every ministry must be equipped with their giving stats. Looking at the past few years of data will reveal trends and movement. This is a must…and one you must stay on top of.
This data, your scorecard, must be trustworthy; the numbers can only be trusted if they’re updated regularly. The moment you begin to doubt one of your numbers, your trust level for the entire scorecard goes out the window.
Another way to look at it is to ask yourself “would I stake my life on this document and its accuracy?” Get to a place where you can answer, “Yes!” It’s that important.
Question your data. Pay special attention to donors you’ve retained, effectiveness of donor regaining, and your outlook for current donor recruitment.
What we want to see is more of a consistent number of donors coming to the organization every year that’s reasonable and manageable. It is actually possible to be too successful in donor recruitment. You lose out over the long run because of an inability to retain them.
Pay attention to
- Donors to Retain
- Donors to Regain
- Donors to Recruit
Update Your Development Message
Certain sections needing improvement are undoubtedly your ministry’s history and strategy sections. History is made up of the milestones of faithfulness that God has shown you in your ministry. It’s how you’re able to tell people the story of what God has done up to this point so they know they are stepping into a story that’s already unfolding. It is the key of the ministry because it is the heart of your ministry.
Look at your strategy section. Is your ministry’s strategy clear? Can you articulate it simply to people? It boils down to this: does your message and strategy make sense and can people make sense of it?
Make sure your development message is on target.
Break Your Audiences Down
This is what I like to call souped up prospect planning.
Differentiate your audience into groups:
- Donors to retain – everyone who gave in the last calendar year
- Donors to regain – people who gave in prior years going back a set number of years (no more than seven)
- Donors to recruit – people with whom you have communicated who have never given (non-donors)
Recruiting donors is a process. Begin with your list of non-donors gathered during group differentiation and carve out those you’re genuinely going to focus on recruiting. It’s important to remember when communicating your ministry’s message, engagement is not the same as notification.
Many ministries make the same mistake – communication plans are developed like a blanket for all non-donors. Rather than acquiring new givers, we train an entire audience to NOT donate. Identify those non-givers who you will focus on and attend to in order to bring their giving to fruition.
Strategize once lists are in place. You want donors to retain, donors to regain, donors to recruit, and true non-givers.
Strategies and Tactics in Your Communications Timeline
Donors to Retain Break up your delivery for persons on this list. To which persons will you apply a face-to-face strategy? Which persons will be involved in small group strategy? Large group strategy?
Donors to Regain Remember we regain people by thanking and reporting, so what strategies are you going to use? What do you and your ministry have the capacity to do? Consider small group reporting.
Non-Donors You can easily establish a very simple communications timeline. You’re going to release these persons to just communicate with rather than trying to communicate with them. You are NOT going to solicit them. (You may recruit them in the future, but they are not your current focus.)
If you are able to do this, and I know you can, you will be in the upper tenth percentile of ministry organizations out there in terms of what you’re doing in development.
Structured. Simple. Go the rest of the giving year knowing you have the essentials well in hand. Spend the rest of the year executing on your plan.
I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with this plan. I really want to see specifically how you’ve done this, and look forward to reviewing it together.