New year, new thinking: how to get started

publication date: Jan 21, 2013
author/source: Liz Attfield

Happy 2013! The world hasn’t ended – we are all still here.

But that means all the issues that were around in 2012 are still here too: there is a greater need for charity support in our communities while we are faced with the reality of limited budgets and dwindling donor files.Liz Attfield

I say, don’t let the past drag you down. Now’s the time to think fresh! Think new! To borrow a line from Apple, think different!

Make the resolution to take your fundraising and marketing program to the gym for a little workout (I say that metaphorically, of course, but maybe you need something to think about while you’re on that elliptical).

Here’s how to get started.

Review your strategic plan

Do you even have a strategic plan? If you do, blow the dust and cobwebs off and take a read. Are the goals you set still applicable to your organization’s strategic direction? Do you have the tools you need to meet those goals? If not, think about flexibility, and what you can change to ensure you are successful.

Prepare to innovate

Perhaps your budget is being finalized now or soon – can you get a little revenue put aside for a new initiative or two, or reallocate some funds to allow for testing? It’s imperative to try something new in this charitable market that seems to go up and down like a yo-yo. Having the foresight to add an innovation budget line item to your annual plan now will put you ahead of the game, because you’ll be prepared should any opportunities come your way.

Think beyond the tried and true

I attended a brilliant session called Fundraising Theatre at AFP Congress in Toronto last November. It was three hours of fantastic examples of cutting-edge work, inspiration and learning and it continues to resonate with me. I raise this because it’s too easy to stick with the tried and true; that’s what we are used to doing. But there is so much more out there – video, online, guerrilla marketing – you name it. They work hand-in-hand to raise awareness and money.

Take it to action

Don’t just think about it, do it! Get the key players involved early on; get the buy-in from other areas of the organization so they can see the value of what you’re proposing. If it fits with your strategic direction, you have the budget and the idea; there is no time to waste. Plus, if you can initiate your innovations early, you have the remainder of the year to rollout any successes.


Here’s to an exciting 2013.  Happy fundraising!

Liz Attfield is Senior Account Director, Stephen Thomas Ltd., and her clients’ go-to person for advice on the full cross-section of services offered by Stephen Thomas (ST). She began at LION (formerly known as Burnett Associates), where she provided social marketing advice to high profile European charitable organizations including MSF and The Tate Gallery.

At Stephen Thomas, Liz has worked with a variety of clients, including health related not-for-profits, hospital foundations and charitable lotteries. She develops and implements successful fundraising campaigns that integrate all types of media. Liz also has experience in strategic planning, legacy marketing, database analytics and new product development.

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