A Look Back

January 19, 2024

We have just hit the halfway mark of the first month of the year. Statistically speaking, we are now 4% of the way through 2024. That is a sobering thought. January tends to be a relatively quiet time for acquiring new gifts, so this is the perfect time to look back and reflect on your “hits and misses” for the last calendar year.

Look at Last Year’s Goals

The first thing to do is to look at last year’s goals. (If you didn’t establish goals for last year, it is a practise that you should start.) There are the easy things to measure like dollars in, LYBUNT, SYBUNT, retention, etc. but those tend to be fairly tactical in nature. These will definitely help establish some fundraising trends, and even perhaps some baselines on a go-forward basis.

However, those statistical figures only paint part of the story. Look at the number of “third visits” you had with prospects and donors. THAT is an interesting number, as it paints a picture of the organization. If the number of third visits drops year-over-year, you can deduce that there may be an issue with the fundraiser moving the agenda forward.

Look at Staff Churn

I have seen a record number of staff come and go during the last year. People’s priorities and tolerance for difficult people/workplaces has definitely shifted. I recently spoke to a friend who is with an executive search firm. The number of “relists” (re-posting the advertised position due to the person moving on once hired) has more than doubled over the last few years. Look at your own organization. Have you created an atmosphere that fosters a team? Have you had unfilled positions for months or even worse — filled the same position numerous times? It may be time to reexamine the position description and/or the onboarding. When a new hire doesn’t work out, it is usually a misalignment of expectations.

Look at Personal Development

Last, but certainly not least, I would suggest looking at your personal development goals from last year. Were they met? (BTW, if you didn’t create personal development goals there is no time like the present.) Have your long-term plans changed? Were you able to separate work from your personal life? Did you have fun last year (for me, this is tantamount for success.)


Sometimes I write a “mini manifesto” as my goals for the coming year. Whatever form it may take, I urge you to both look back at the year that was, as well as the year that will be. Try to institute as many positive changes as you can, realizing that there is only a finite number of hours in a day to accomplish your goals. Perhaps some of the items you have on last year’s list may roll over to this year, or maybe they are no longer priorities at all.

Only by looking back and evaluating what was can we hope to change what will be.

Until next week.