10 Rules for Ending, Starting and Ending a Fundraising Financial Year

I tell a story in my workshops about the 9 month fundraising year. It goes like this.

You start the year shattered. Its been a drain. So, time for some training maybe, some space, a little think time. Then suddenly its the end of the first quarter, where do that come from? Better crack on though, but oops everyones away now. Then its September. Full on. Plans and budgets, Christmas frenzy and then that last quarter, chase, chase, chase. The final finishing line. Knackered. And so you start the year, once again late. The 9 month fundraising year. Familiar?

The knack perhaps is being more conscious, rather than living that surreal out of body, someone else is driving this, kind of feeling. So here’s 10 rules for ending, starting and ending a financial year to help guide some sanity and a little sense of control:

  1. Plan the end first – starting with the end in mind, will need converting to a plan. What do you need? Who needs to be involved? How do you want to communicate and what? The end is now and then – 18 months, 24 months and beyond. Think ahead and free from the narrow 12 months alone
  2. End well – whatever the results find a way to end a tough journey well. Find a way to conclude the story. Acknowledge and reward, and build a narrative of where you started and where you have ended up, the story
  3. Celebrate effort and contribution over delivery – People want results thats true. But above that people want their effort and contribution valued. Failure is part of succeeding. But effort and contribution fosters trust and team. It cements you for the next push
  4. Together means everyone and beyond – Together means reaching out to those who supported you, to the wider team, the junior roles, the little contributions, the words said that encourage. Find everyone and say…thank you, together
  5. Be in control of upwards and out – The more you control the narrative and expectations the more you will actually be in control. I know that sounds easy…but preparation and communication from you is better than to you
  6. Plan the start – knowing what to do that matters in the first quarter. It also means the earlier you start the more likely you are to deliver budget, so planning the start means an emphasis on the pipeline – be specific and clear
  7. Build a 12 Week Work plan – rethink your ‘year’ into manageable and very focussed 12 week stints of activity, and they help avoid drift and loss of focus. A powerful way to drive your programme is to use the 12 Week Work Plan approach
  8. Hit the decks running – a brief space yes, but by the second week of the year you should already be motoring with a clear set of purpose and activity that sets the pace. Map out that momentum by scheduling your quarterly goals, your 12 week work plans, your team meetings and your report deadlines
  9. Private focus – use those early days and weeks for one to one private reflections and honesty. None of this ‘review of the year and goal setting’ 6 months too late in the year because you didn’t get round to it malarkey. Scheduled and early one to ones sets a compass and expectation
  10. Build review time – ask for individual views, collect thoughts and observations and bring them together in a facilitated workshop. Space to learn and deal with, time to look forward but informed. Big investment and will always pay off.

Seneca wrote ‘Every new beginning come from some other beginnings end’. Starting and ending your year well can make all the difference to how you and your team perform and whether they deliver

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