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Budgets, Business Plans and Performance Reviews – OH MY!!!

By Angela Joens



I love spring – everything about it. The days get longer, everything is beginning to bud and bloom, and the weather is finally beginning to warm up. But spring also means for those of us on a July to June fiscal year that it is time to build business plans, create budgets, and evaluate our staff. It is crazy hectic – you are trying to successfully close out your year and finish all of your events and projects and at the same time preparing for the next year.


For some, this can feel overwhelming and tedious. How do you make time to do plan for next year while you are in the thick of it? Some might be inclined not to create plans or to phone this work in and sort it out later. The problem with that logic is if you do not know where you are going someone else (leadership, donors, development officers) may divert your attention. It is better to take the time to plan and focus on and celebrate your staff.

Here are a few ideas to help you during this hectic time:


  1. Don’t do it alone - involve your entire team in building the business plan for next year. Your team members will have ideas for what they would like to do next year or how they want to improve the program. By including them in the business planning, you are getting much-needed help and getting their buy-in at the same time. A win-win!

  2. Think of the 4 Pillars – when you build your business plan consider the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations (acknowledgment, stewardship, recognition, and engagement). Is your acknowledgment process efficient? What kind of reports do you send your donors? Who needs to be recognized? What can you do to further engage your donors? Remember you do not have to do it all at once – do one pillar really well and then move to the next. Learn more about the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations at the DRG Group's regional conferences, in this webinar, or grab a copy of Lynne Wester's book.

  3. No Surprises – If you have a great new idea that needs to be funded begin discussing this with your leadership and get them excited about it in advance of submitting your budget. So when the time comes to submit your budget they are not surprised.

  4. Ask – You have heard the old adage – you don’t get what you don’t ask for. So ask – if you want to change an event, if you want to eliminate a program and do two instead, if you have a vendor that will save you time and money. Show your leadership how it will improve the operation or create more efficiencies. You might hear no sometimes but never be afraid to ask.

  5. Retain your most precious resources – I am of course talking about your staff. People leave jobs because they do not feel valued or appreciated by their leadership. When you are busy it seems like tedious work to complete a performance review - but make the time. Your staff is worth it. So at the end of the year take time to celebrate all they accomplished. Talk about what they learned about themselves and your organization. What was their largest challenge and how did they feel when they overcame it? Ask them what they want to focus on in the coming year? Give them ideas about what skills you want them to develop.

  6. All Year Long – Remember - nothing in their year-end review should come as a surprise to your employees. You should be talking with them all year long and coaching and giving feedback.

  7. Work Remotely – all of this work requires a lot of uninterrupted time so if your leadership is open to this idea – get away from the office. Go somewhere where you can think, dream, write, and ideate without your colleagues, email, and phone disturbing you. It is amazing how much work you can get done when you are not interrupted. If it is not possible to leave the office – shut your door or put a sign on your cubicle that says you are on deadline and cannot be disturbed.

  8. Celebrate You and Your Team – when your budgets are turned in, business plans are approved, and all your performance reviews have been given – take some time to celebrate all that you accomplished. Do something special for yourself – get a pedicure, eat something fabulous, go get a drink with someone who does not work with you and talk about anything but work. And then celebrate with your team – tell them how grateful you are for their work and dedication and get them fired up for an exciting new year.

You got this! I know it is hectic, crazy, and overwhelming but you are a strong leader and you can do it!!!


This post was written by DRG Group member, Angela Joens.


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