As we look to a new year, it’s time to start thinking about what 2012 might hold for us.

Will the new year hold more of the same or will things be different?

I don’t think it really matters what the new year brings. The more important question to ask is ‘what will you do to have successful fundraising?’

Over the past few years, many nonprofits have faced a withering economy, nervous Boards, and more demand for services. The organizations that are flourishing (and yes, some are doing great!) have been proactive and purposeful about fundraising. I have several clients who have had their best years ever in 2010 and 2011.

Here’s what I see vibrant nonprofits doing in 2012. Easy Vs Hard Way Road Sign

Take fundraising seriously. Nonprofits that will raise big money in 2012 will take fundraising seriously. They won’t put it on the back burner to deal with ‘more important things.’ They’ll have a written plan of how they’ll communicate with their donors and prospects, and they’ll treat their donors as partners in their work, not as ATMs. They’ll be proactive, not reactive. And they’ll be successful.

Invest in themselves. Nonprofits that will raise big money in 2012 will spend money on training. Even with tight budgets, they’ll find a way to send staff to workshops or webinars. They know that their organization is only as strong as their staff, and to keep their skills sharp, they’ll focus on continuing education.

Invest in their Board. Nonprofits that will raise seriously big money in 2012 will invest in training for their Board. They know that they’ll need their Board in tip-top shape to help reach more people in the community, especially key supporters. Without training, their Board might now be willing or have the know-how to make these important connections. Seriously successful organizations know that a little training can go a long way with a Board.

Unwilling to accept mediocrity. Nonprofits that will have their biggest year ever in 2012 will be unwilling to accept mediocrity. They will demand (and get) the best from their Board, their staff, and their volunteers. Together, they will improve their service delivery, they’ll learn to be excellent at telling their story, and they will engage people in their work. And they will be successful. They’ll help more people and they’ll raise more money than ever before. They’ll see themselves as a vital part of the community, changing lives for the better.

As you look forward into 2012, remember this: it doesn’t matter so much what the year brings. What matters is what you do with it.

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