It’s finally beginning to feel like fall. Kids have settled into their school routines, we can get pumpkin spice in everything, and with each day, the sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier. For most nonprofit organizations, fall is a time of events, year-end fundraising, board recruitment, budget development, and planning and preparation for the upcoming year. Whether or not your organization’s fiscal year ends with the calendar year, there are things that your board can attend to now that will help your organization be more successful in the upcoming year.
Ensure that Fundraising in on Track
If the organization is not on track with its fundraising revenue, now is the time to adjust activities to ensure that you meet your annual revenue goals. The last quarter of the calendar year is the most active time of year for donors’ contributions. If your organization’s fundraising is lagging behind, the board should work with the chief executive to get things moving in the right direction. This may require board members to increase the number of donor meetings and visits they have scheduled in upcoming months. It may involve additional efforts for the organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign. If your organization has fall events scheduled, you might need to do an extra push to encourage attendance and bring in additional sponsorships.
Develop Next Year’s Budget
If your organization is approaching the end of its fiscal year, the board should confirm its schedule to develop and ratify a new budget. Budget development is often left to the last minute. This doesn’t allow time for thorough discussion or comprehensive board understanding of the budget it approves and subsequently oversees. Starting the budget development process now can provide enough time for the board to review and revise the document before it is adopted. It also provides time for the fundraising committee to confirm that the revenue projections are realistic and allows them the time to develop the upcoming year’s fundraising plan to use in conjunction with the budget.
Recruit New Board Members
If your board votes on new board members at the end of the year so they can start their work in January, determine if everything is on schedule with your new member recruitment efforts. Ideally, your board’s governance committee has been talking to prospective board members throughout the year and is developing a slate of candidates for the board’s consideration. If this isn’t the case, it’s time to begin identifying and talking with prospective board members.
Board recruitment is an important task: it takes a mix of skills on the board to create a strong team. The recruitment process should be strike a balance between being thorough and being efficient. If you’re just starting recruitment to bring people on by year’s end, consider if it’s realistic to meet this schedule. Unless your organization’s bylaws stipulate when the board must vote on new board members, you have some flexibility with this task. It’s more important to get the right people on the board than it is to meet an arbitrary deadline. That said, now is the time for the board to confirm that it has a timeline and plan in place to meet its new member recruitment schedule.
Make Your Schedule for Next Year
Begin thinking about next year’s annual plan. Even though it feels early to think about now, you may want to schedule a board planning and team-building retreat in January or February. Getting the board planning retreat, as well as next year’s regular board meetings and organizational events on the calendar before the end of the year will help your board members as they plan their own schedules. This may lead to better board meeting attendance and participation.
Fall can be a busy time. Thoughtful planning now will help avoid the stress of being unmanageably busy at the end of the year. Take a few minutes at your next board meeting to determine what tasks and projects the board needs to complete before December. You may find that things are on track, or you may find that you need to make a few adjustments now to ensure that things get done. By taking a little time for planning now, you can help your organization put things in place to support success in the upcoming year.