Your Check Engine Light is On

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Congratulations! You’ve survived (yet another) almighty year-end giving cycle. Phew! Like most of us, you and your organization spent the last few months hustling hard to close those tax-deductible gifts. Hopefully your hard work paid off.

After the first of the year, too often development shops switch into auto-pilot. And sometimes that feels so good it creeps into February…and then March. And then just like that Q1 is gone and the rest of the year feels set in stone.

I’ll be the first to argue that staff (and donors!) need some restorative time after the year-end hustle. But, it is also an opportune time to pause and examine your personal and departmental strategies.

I encourage development professionals to take a critical look at three areas that play an important role in the success of your organization: personnel, programs, and patrons.

Sounds simple right? We already did that at our staff retreat last summer! But are you playing your role? Are you following through? How can you get creative, push yourself, and bring your work to the next level? The beginning of the year is an excellent time to pause and analyze how tuning your individual approach and strategy goals can have a major impact for your organization. 

Hopefully when you take some time to tune up you’ll discover you just need to tighten the gas cap and get an oil change (per say) to be back in good working order. And just like when that little light on your dash turns off and your car feels brand new, you’ll find that taking time to tune up your own personal approach to your work early in the year will pay dividends on the rest of the year.

If you are in the Washington D.C. area, join me at Foundation Center on February 10 where I’ll outline areas to examine during your tune up in the class, The Calm After the Year-End Storm: Q1 Strategies for a Successful Year.

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Whether you are new to fundraising, a seasoned professional, at the bottom of the totem pole or top, you’ll find something in this session for you. We’ll end the seminar in small groups where you can work with other development professionals to jump-start your very own tune up.


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MAUREEN DEVINE-AHL is the Principal for MK Fundraising Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in development strategy and operations. She is an energetic development professional with 13+ years of experience fundraising in higher education and non-profit environments. Before launching her consulting firm, Maureen served in various leadership positions at The George Washington University, East Carolina University and Antioch College. She's a dynamic and creative leader with experience in development strategy, annual fund, alumni/donor relations, program management, cultivation, stewardship, day-of-giving programs, major gifts, development writing, corporate partnerships and more.

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