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Allison Gauss

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Nonprofit Professionals

It’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions! What are you looking forward to doing in 2015? On a professional level, you’ll likely start thinking about ways you can become a more knowledgeable, effective nonprofiter! Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for nonprofit professionals like yourself, that’ll help you take your fundraising skills to new heights in the new year.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Nonprofit Fundraisers

1. Create a comprehensive RSS feed – and read it regularly

An RSS feed is like a DVR for all your favorite nonprofit blogs. Instead of working your way through a number of sites you check daily or weekly, you go to your feed where all the new posts have been compiled in one place for you. You can easily add new blog “channels” and you can even organize your feed into different folders. There are lots of different platforms to organize your feed. We recommend The Old Reader, Feedly, and Instapaper.

2. Resolve to call and personally thank 10 donors a month

Every donor should be thanked, but that will usually come in the form of an email or even a mailed letter. Donors expect this. But they won’t be expecting a personal phone call. from an organization. Setting aside just one hour every month allows you to personally reach out and strengthen this relationship. You can call big donors, brand-new donors, or a random group. No matter who you call, they will appreciate it.

3. Invite someone at another local nonprofit in your cause sector to coffee

If you want to improve as a Development professional (or any professional), remember: always be learning. A great way to do this is to connect with someone who shares your experiences or goals. If there is another local nonprofit you think you could learn from, get in touch with their Development Department and share your knowledge. You will probably both come away knowing something new. Working with, and understanding, other organizations working towards the same goal is critical for success. If you can’t find a similar organization in your area, reach out to another development professional online and connect through Skype or Google hangout.

4. Answer every Facebook post on your page (or tweet mentioning you, or both!)

Nonprofits spend a lot of time and energy trying to boost engagement on social media. One of the simplest, but most effective steps you can take is to respond to every post on your Facebook wall or any Tweet you are mentioned in. This shows you are listening to your community and want to foster participation and conversation.

5. Schedule a 5 minute walk, workout, or stretch into your workday

Go outside, do some pushups, take a walk around the parking lot, just do something other than sit at your desk. We have heard plenty about the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, but you may find that a walk of quick stretch can help you refocus and get back on track when you are finding it hard to stay on task.

6. Resolve to read 4 books this year on fundraising or the nonprofit sector

Another great step to take if you want to become more knowledgeable about fundraising and the nonprofit space, is to make a habit of reading books on the subject. Blogs can keep you up-to-date on the latest developments, but many books on social impact can give you new perspective and inspiration. Check out our favorites here.

Read Next: 7 Books All Nonprofit Professionals Must Read

7. Schedule a monthly check-in with a department that affects development, such as marketing or programs

Because fundraising is such an indispensable arm of any nonprofit, it can be easy to put your nose to the grindstone and lose track of what your coworkers are up to. You may, however, be missing out on some great ideas and people willing to help. Choose one (or more) departments and schedule regular check-ins. This will help both sides plan for the future and support each other.

8. Schedule one-on-one meetings with a few board members who you think could be helpful in fundraising. Ask for ideas, connections

When was the last time you spoke to a board member outside of a full board meeting? Ever?

You don’t have to invite every board member to your house, but a few choice meetings can open you up to new opportunities. Ask a board member to coffee and ask for their ideas and thoughts on fundraising. They may have some valuable contacts or tips, or they may even decide to start their own peer-to-peer campaign.

9. Volunteer with one of your organization’s programs. You will be more connected to the work and you will be inspired for fundraising

Let’s face it, Development isn’t always the most heart-warming job at an organization. You deal with dollars and cents, donors and sponsors. But volunteering an afternoon with one of your own programs can remind you why you do what you do. You can even ask coworkers in other administrative positions if they want to join you in some hands-on experience.

10. Set work limits. For a healthy work-life balance, you can’t always be on call

Long hours, underpaid salaries, and high pressure gives the nonprofit sector a very high turnover rate, especially in development. If you’re not keeping an eye on your own needs, you could easily burn out.

To help yourself maintain balance, set some guidelines such as “no work email after 7PM” or “no work on Sundays.” You may not always stick to your plan, but there are plenty of occasions when some message or question can wait until tomorrow.

Not all New Year’s resolutions involve a gym membership, and we hope we’ve given you some ideas for reaching another level of fundraising in 2015. If you have another great fundraising resolution, share it in the comments.

Happy New Year and Happy Fundraising!

Be Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Guru in 2015

examples of successful nonprofit fundraising campaigns

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