This post is by Brady Hahn, the founder of Non Profit Effect. As a facilitator, researcher and strategist, Brady specializes in matchmaking non-profits, for-profits and social entrepreneurs. She has developed more than 80 professional development and special events for organizations such as Step Up Women’s NetworkPamper Me Fabulous, Social Media Week and her own series, Social Media For Social Good in partnership with Digital LA.

In this 8-part series, Brady will teach you how to increase your fundraising and better prepare your nonprofit organization for events in 2012.  This is Part One.

Do a gut check. There are eight questions you need to ask your team before the gun goes off on your 2012 plan.

The beginning of a new year is a time for setting goals and getting organized. Why wait until 4-5 months before your big event to reach out to sponsors and partners? You can build toward your fundraising goals all year long using the same basic planning principles.

To get started, you’ll want to consider where your organization stands and what you want to accomplish in the next year. Take an hour and answer these 8 Essentials with your team before jumping into high gear for 2012!

The 8 Essentials TM

  1. If anything were possible, what would your organization look like? What would its impact be on the world?
  2. If you could describe what your organization does in a few key word phrases, what would those be?
  3. What is/are your most pressing problem(s) as an organization right now?
  4. If you could wave a magic wand, what would you ask for in order to solve the problem(s) mentioned above?
  5. To help you accomplish your goals, what does your ideal team or outside partner(s) look like?
  6. What legacy do you want your organization to have?
  7. What is your ideal start time and how much time are you willing /able to invest to see things develop?
  8. What financial commitment are you willing/able to invest to see things develop?

Once you’re done, use the facilitation pointers below to get the conversation going! Note what people are saying, as you will use this feedback later.

  • Discussion A: Are your answers to questions 1, 2 and 6 mentioned in your mission statement or anywhere on your site?  If no, why not?Often times mission statements are thick, heavy and verbose versions of what the true heart of your organization is (see what I did there?). If you don’t tell people what you exist for in a clear and simple way, they won’t know how to help you!
  • Discussion B: Did each of your employees have similar answers?If not, be worried! If your staff doesn’t know the who, what and why of your organization, no one else will!
  • Discussion C: Questions 6 and 7 are really important. Look at the weight of the answers you provided above. If your response was “not enough” for either of them, go back and dig a little deeper.
  • Group Exercise: Looking at your answers to Question 3, work as a team to rate your most pressing problems in order, number one being the most important to solve over the next year. Remove or combine any overlapping ideas.

Next, match your solutions listed in questions 4 and 5.  Do any of your “solutions” solve more than one problem?

If you enjoyed these exercises today, be sure to come back next week for part two where you’ll learn how to turn your 8 Essentials into a year-long plan for securing sponsors and partners! In the meantime, I’d love to hear how this worked for you. Tweet me @bradyhahn or leave your comments below.

Share your thoughts with Eventbrite on Facebook and Twitter!

Hosting a fundraiser soon? See how you can collect donations and sell tickets with Eventbrite.