I know. This blog title may make you think to yourself, “She has GOT to be kidding.” But consider this. The holiday season is just three months away. In fact, you may already be deeply involved in planning your holiday fundraisers and campaigns. Once that starts, sitting down to plan for the next year can be tricky. It’s easy to put off planning because it can seem so daunting and time-consuming. That’s why now–right now–is the best time to start thinking about your campaign for next year.
You might be thinking, “Even if THAT part is true, what could I possibly start working on now? Next year is too far away to know the particulars of what we’ll be dealing with, what our exact needs will be, and what opportunities may arise.” You aren’t wrong. The details of your campaign, especially these days when businesses are always “on,” will constantly be evolving. But here are some facets of your framework that you can start working on at any time.
Your Editorial Calendar
Regardless of what your specific fundraising goals may be in 2014, you still probably have a good idea of the kinds of topics you want to cover on your blog or in your e-newsletter. These editorial calendars can be loosely described ideas that can be adjusted or built on when the time comes. For example, perhaps you know that your posts or your e-newsletters in January will talk about how needs are still high even after the holiday rush. You also can plan ahead for holidays as normally these will impact what your content will focus on.
Key Issues in Publications
If your NPO advertises in key publications or annual issues in local magazines, you can plan ahead for those as well. Planning for these issues together with your editorial calendar will also help you plan the content for your ads. Tying the messaging for your ads to the messaging in your other content will help build your brand and make your cause more memorable and easier for people to reference.
Your Campaign Slogan
Starting early can give you a creative advantage. Instead of simply sending out a call for your fundraisers, now can be a good time to plan out a campaign that will carry you throughout the year, or at least until the holiday season. Think about what matters most to the people you help, to your organization, and to the people who have donated in the past.
Are you wondering if you should be trying new things? Maybe you feel pressure to get started in social media or some type of mobile marketing effort. Now is the time to ask your community how they most prefer to get information from you and what kinds of information they want. With less time constraints you can leave people plenty of time to get back to you, and you will also have plenty of time to analyze the results your survey reveals.
Now is also a great time to decide what your overall objectives are going to be for next year. Setting objectives early will give you time to figure out how best to reach those goals. While the minute details of our objectives may change over the course of the year, having some big picture goals can help immensely.
So what do you think? Will you start your planning process early? Why or why not? We’d love to hear from you!