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How to strengthen your fundraising operations in the year ahead

Posted November 17, 2023 by Virginia Davidson

strengthen your fundraising operations

The last quarter of the calendar year is so busy for fundraisers that it may feel like you’re barely keeping up. But that can also make it the perfect time to think ahead to how you might adjust things in the new calendar year. Why? Because at this time of year, it’s likely you’re really feeling the impact of the previous three quarters, both good and bad. That means you can use that information to make adjustments for next year.

Consider the following ways to strengthen your fundraising operations for next year:

How did it feel to put together your year-end appeal mailing list?

If you struggled with duplicate records or outdated address information, plan to prioritize data maintenance in the new year.

How was the timing of your appeal?

If you met your deadlines, great! Document your process so you can repeat it next year. If you didn’t, it may be that some of those delays could be avoided next year. For example, did you have to order more remittance envelopes at the last minute? Next year, plan to do an inventory of supplies and create your mailing list over the summer so you know in advance how many envelopes you need to order.

Are you looking to year-end fundraising to compensate for some shortfalls earlier in the year?

It may be worthwhile to reassess those goals to see if they were realistic to begin with. And now that you have hindsight, can you identify concrete ways you might have been able to reach the goals, such as additional stewardship of your lapsed or major donors? If you feel some additional efforts might have made a difference, incorporate them into your fundraising plan for next year.

What might you drop from your fundraising plan?

Sometimes, strengthening your fundraising efforts requires you to focus capacity and energy on fewer but very well-executed initiatives. When you think back on the past year, does anything jump out at you that wasn’t worth your effort? If there’s an event that demands a lot of staff time but yields relatively minor results, it’s okay to think about retiring it from your fundraising plan. We even have a resource that can help you navigate the process of retiring an event.


Even in the midst of the busy year-end fundraising season, grant yourself some time to reflect on the past year. Your insights are valuable to take into consideration as your organization prepares for another year of fundraising ahead. And, applying the lessons you’ve learned this year will likely make you happier and more productive going forward, as well as strengthen your future fundraising efforts.

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