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Updated: May 24, 2023

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

Can you name the iconic 80s TV show where that phrase originated? Bonus points if you can name the character or the actor who played the role. (see the answer at the bottom of this post!)

As a proud Gen X’er, I know very well who said that quote. And, in fact, this quote is one of my faves because I do indeed love it when a plan comes together.

I have been a planner all my life. Well, some may call it overthinking, but I say capitalize on your strengths! My ability to plan – especially to think ahead to identify potential pitfalls and then come up with plans B, C, and D – is what makes me an incredibly successful event planner, executive director, and, now, strategist.

Why do I love planning sooo much?

Because planning makes the dream work.

Just like priming your walls before you paint produces better results, so does planning, in detail, before you launch a new fundraising program or campaign.

As another favorite TV character, my soul mate Ron Swanson, says, “Never half-ass anything. Whole-ass one thing.” (ok, I took some liberties with the quote but it fits!)

Planning is whole-assing. It is taking the time to ensure your efforts pay off and you achieve the best possible ROI.

But, Julie, you say, WHERE do I find MORE time? I’m already the executive director, chief cook, and bottle washer at my organization.

I get it. I do. I’ve been where you are. Juggling is hard. Finding time is hard. But you know what’s harder? Failing after you put in the work because you neglected to plan.

So if you’re thinking about launching a new fundraising program, campaign, or event, here are a few planning tips to get you started.

  • Find a quiet place. Take a morning at home. Close your office door with a do not disturb sign. Schedule two hours. More than that you might lose focus, and less than that you may not get through the process.

  • To start, write out the answers to these questions: What? Why? Why now? What is the desired outcome?

  • Next, make a list of resources you will need to achieve the desired outcome. Team support? Budget for expenses? A committee? X hours to devote per week? Buy-in from your board? And anything else you think to add. Then, evaluate if you have all the needed resources and/or what needs to happen to make those resources fully available.

  • Then consider the timeline. When do you hope to launch this endeavor? How long until it is complete? What are the stages along the way? Are there any issues, internal or external, that make the timeline not feasible?

  • Next, consider the promotion. How do you intend to get the word out? Do you have the means and team to promote? How frequently will you need to promote and for how long?

  • Lastly, assuming this endeavor will involve donors/supporters of some type, what is your plan to thank them? How? How often? In what ways?

Once you complete this preliminary planning (yes, this is just the start!), you should understand if your idea is feasible and, if yes, have a solid idea of what it will take to accomplish your goal.

And, yes, there will be more planning. But that planning will depend on what you are hoping to accomplish. An event? You’ll need to plan the location, program, food, etc. A new fundraising program or specific campaign? You’ll need to plan the strategy, the goal, the tracking, etc.

Again, I understand if the planning process seems daunting. But I also understand (due to lessons learned the hard way) that failure to plan means many more headaches and heartaches including a higher possibility of a disappointing outcome.

So why this post and why right now? Because year-end is rapidly approaching and it’s not too soon to start your planning! Plus getting a jump on planning can set your organization up for goal-busting success.

Need help? Then I hope you’ll consider my upcoming course, Step-by-Step to Your Best Year-End Ever, starting August 25. I will hold your hand and walk you through the complete planning process for your holiday campaign, setting you up for your best year-end ever! To learn more, click HERE.

And here’s to whole-assing all your future plans!

Answer: The A-Team by John “Hannibal” Smith played by George Peppard. How did you do??

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