Q. How do we know how much of last year’s annual plan should stay the same and how much testing or new initiatives should be added in?
A. Data tells you so much of what you need to know in building a solid annual plan. You want to keep your winners and change or omit less successful appeals. Consider testing against appeals that made the cut, but just barely. Keep your eye on your long-term goals so decisions you make today don’t hamper your revenue and donor growth. Some organizations will cut acquisition to save expenses, but this will hurt your long-term growth.
Q. We’re putting together an annual plan and don’t have much experience. Can you tell me the basics?
A. Give yourself plenty of time—two to three months—because you don’t want to rush the process. Understand your short- and long-term goals, including revenue goals, donor growth, etc. Analyze historical trends and understand your budget constraints. Put together a multi-channel plan and communication calendar—a schedule that will help you meet deadlines and never miss a mail date.
Q. Wouldn’t it be easier to make our annual plan as close as we can to that of a more successful organization?
A. No two organizations are the same. All use different tactics. The geography is different—as so are your offers and your donors. Trust in all the nuances that make your organization unique, and develop a plan based on your history and experiences. A plan that is right for you.