December is the new January

My dear friend, Athena Captain, posted this on her Facebook page, Athena’s Prospecting Secrets. 

I thought this was an appropriate theme for my first blog of December because it’s so true.  Just because it’s December, don’t stop!  In fact, increase your efforts a bit to make up for the distractions and the time off work you may be taking. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Send holiday cards to your top tier of donors and volunteers and have all the staff and board sign the cards.  Depending upon the size of the list, divide up the list so no one person is addressing all the cards.  Hand address the cards if possible. This is a good task to do while you’re watching TV.
  • Host a coffee with the CEO, Board President and a few funders. 
  • Create a video of staff people saying thank you. All they need to say is, “Thank you.”  Bookend the video with a few lines from the ED.  Email this to your entire list.

December is also a great time to review the past year (or past six months if your year started on July 1).  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What worked for you personally and for your organization?  What were the big wins? 
  • What didn’t work?  This one can be tricky because we tend to try to justify why things didn’t work. This isn’t about you as a person. You didn’t do anything bad or wrong, it just didn’t work.  Here’s an example:  say you held a big, outdoor event and it rained so you had to cancel.  You, personally, couldn’t help the fact that it rained, and you had to cancel.  The event just didn’t work, it didn’t come off as you had planned.
  • What can you do differently in the coming year (or 6 months) to be more successful? Taking our example of the rained-out event, perhaps next year you move the event inside if possible or have a weather contingency plan.  You may decide not to hold the event at all. Resist the urge to say there’s nothing different that can be done.  Be open minded and brainstorm.

This is a powerful exercise to do with your staff, your board, and with yourself.  Have each person work through these three questions for themselves individually and as a group.  Consider bringing in an outside facilitator to work through this with your board and staff, and if you’re really brave, do this without the executive director in the room.  Depending upon the size of your board, it shouldn’t take more than an hour.  Same for the staff. 

Once that’s complete, have a party and celebrate the wins, both large and small.  Also, share the goals for the coming year or remainder of the year.  Make this a very positive activity with both board and staff together.  Give out small but meaningful gifts to everyone. I like to give a book and one of my favorites is “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud.  It’s a children’s book but has good lessons for all of us. 

A note here to board members:  be sure to thank your executive director! Executive Directors rarely receive recognition or thanks for their efforts and their commitment.

December is the perfect time of year to review, reflect and re-commit to your goals.  If you like these ideas and would like help implementing any of them, give me a shout.



Leave a Comment