The Key to Success: Annual and Quarterly Planning

Annual planning is where it’s at. “Where what is at?” you may be asking.

Well, ‘it is the amazesauce productivity that exists for those super successful nonprofits that make you want to drool or cuss at, in trying to understand how they do it. Either way, close your mouth, and realize that you can have the ‘it’s’ too.

You can be that super successful nonprofit that others drool or cuss at, by implementing actions. Before you hop up and down, let me tell you nothing crazy successful happens immediately.

“I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.” ~ Ray Kroc

This will take time and commitment, but it really is just a simple formula. Okay, let’s get into it. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, then you have done your ‘Why’s’, your S.W.O.T., your planning, developed your website, evaluated your lessons learned, articulate your goals, objectives, and activities, and are developing partner relationships.

Oh yeah. Now it’s time to take those S.M.A.R.T. objectives and goals and really put them into an annual calendar.

You want everyone at your organization to have a calendar – even if it is just a rough draft – for the year. A secret is to section your calendar off into quarters and look at your overall goal and objectives and figure out what you need to achieve each quarter in order to achieve those goals.

Quarter Focus: Professional and Personal Development

By breaking down your year into quarters you can have quarter focuses. You could find out what these focuses will be when you do your review of lessons learned from the previous year. Maybe there were great projects, but they weren’t implemented because there was not efficiency at work. In quarter one of the year then you may decide to focus on productivity. In this way, maybe you could find courses on productivity online, books on productivity, or find a weekly blog on productivity and send it out to everyone. Perhaps you would have a different person give a 10-minute activity or lesson on productivity at the weekly staff meetings.

For quarter two, you might want to focus on leadership or cultivating relationships, or can we be so controversial as to mention financial responsibility? Why would I bring that up? Well, major stress in many people’s lives is finances. Can you imagine if all of your staff were financially responsible and conscious about their money? They wouldn’t be so stressed at work, or they start asking for a raise. The other thing is they may start managing the nonprofit’s resources with more efficiency and consciousness. I’m not saying to ask for bank statements or disclose people’s finances, but education on financial responsibility could really help your staff both personally and professionally! There are many different ideas on quarter focuses, but it really does help to have a 90-day focus on one major development at a time.

Quarter Focus: Objectives

Another, additional way to focus your quarters is to focus on a specific objective. Being able to accomplish major tasks in 90-days is very doable when you are focused on it. Obviously some objectives may be longer than a quarter, but you could focus on a certain item of the objective. A quarter is just the perfect amount of time to feel like you have some time to accomplish something big, but not too much where it becomes ‘you’ll get around to it at some point’.

The Big Annual

Being able to have the year-at-a-glance is a great way for everyone to see the overall picture. This is important as it will help everyone to be on the same page and to stay focused. Plus, by looking at a calendar you may see that two fundraising events are too close to one another or there may be another major event going on in your community at that same time so you can arrange your event strategically to complement the event. It is good to have a major milestone to be finished by the end of the year, and each of your objectives can lead to this major goal. Sometimes, we can get to week 25 of 52 and realize that we haven’t made as much headway as we had wanted to on our goal so we reduce the overall goal. Do not do this! Increase your actions instead!

“Never ever reduce your target, always increase your actions.” ~ Grant Cardone

Time Tracking

By having quarter focuses, you will be able to measure where you are at in reaching your overall goal. If you aren’t making progress, then increase your actions. Figure out what is taking your time or the time of your staff. Nine times out of ten it is because distractions are becoming all-consuming. Cruising around Facebook during the workday or long, drawn-out meetings may be a major factor.

Tracking time can help with this by using online apps such as Toggle or even a timer. Set it for 45 minutes and only focus on the biggest priority at a time. Do nothing else until that timer goes off and then when it does, get up, stretch out, drink some water, and then rinse and repeat. This is so effective that you may actually end up getting your work done two to three times faster.

I know someone, personally, that has their staff on a similar track and he has actually reduced their hours from 40-hours per week to 35-hours per week, yet still pays them full-time. He said that productivity has increased and they are enjoying their quality of life much more.

So there you have it. Have a working annual calendar, divide your year into quarters and have theme focuses and objective focuses, and increase your actions by deleting your distractions.

This system will take some time to fully implement, but it is simple. You can be that amazesauce nonprofit that is super successful and productive!

As always, let me know if you have any grant writing or funding questions! Send me an email at [email protected]


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