Top Ten Tips for Planning Your Year

image by M.Maslany

If you haven’t done your new year planning for your organization, don’t worry, it’s not too late! The beginning of the year is a great time for many organizations to get a fresh start and evaluate the year ahead. Both businesses and non profit organizations can benefit from setting aside time to reflect, revisit goals and practices and potentially develop new, more efficient ways of doing things. We’ve got 10 tips for how you can take action and help your staff, volunteers, investors and board feel ready for the new year. Our hope is visiting each of these areas will save time, bring in more funding, retain your volunteers, and get your year into tip top shape.

1. Schedule Grant & Financing Deadlines: Spend time reviewing past grants and funding you have applied for and new grants you might be eligible for. Flag urgent deadlines with your team and evaluate how to fit in the time to apply to them. Here at Sharp Six we can help with both funding research and applications.

2. Review Your Strategic Plan: Reflect on the past year and review any goals that were made last year to determine if you are on track. If your organization regularly checks in on its strategic plan progress, great! If not, make a habit of doing it yourself to ensure your program or department is making progress in the right direction, is on mission, and is well enough resourced to accomplish the desired goals.

3. Input Key Dates: Put all key dates in your calendar. Prep your calendar with key dates to avoid last minute surprises. Include everything from your AGM and its notice period, holidays, hiring timeframes, deadlines, strategic planning meetings, networking events, conferences. Include timelines on when you want to start marketing for public events. You may even be able to identify busy periods or gaps in your year that you can better prepare for… or safely take vacation during!

4. Host a Staff Check In & Goal Planning Session: Have a casual check-in with staff on their work load, bring fruit and coffee, and do a roundtable discussion on how everyone is doing with their workload and priorities. Set some goals as a team – goals are more likely achieved if everyone is on board. Work with your staff and/or volunteer team to create manageable goals, revisit them at key meetings throughout the year and put the list of goals somewhere highly visible.

5. Prepare for the Societies ActDetermine and plan what steps your organization needs to take over the next year or two as the new Societies Act comes into force – this is something Sharp Six will be posting a lot more information about and we can help ensure your transition to the new act is professionally done and seamless!

6. Send Thank You’s to Supporters: Make a plan for how you plan to thank donors in the new year such as making individual phone calls, setting aside a budget for thank you gifts, personal thank you emails, and thank you cards. You can also identify strategic times of year to send out thank yous like holidays that those donors celebrate.

7. Send Out a Call for Volunteers: Are you looking for more volunteers? Send out an update on how to get involved throughout the year with key dates, events and projects. While you are planning out your year, so is everyone else, so it’s a great time to reach out and coordinate or collaborate with other organizations.

8. Plan Ahead for the AGM: Identify potential key issues or themes for your AGM. Are there new initiatives, staff or volunteers that should be introduced? Do you need to arrange for special speakers, awards or thank you’s?

9. Update your website: Go through your website and make sure everything is current and up to date. Make sure to take out any featured event postings that focus on the year before if they are no longer relevant.

10. Evaluate New Tools: Do an assessment of whether your organization may need more digital tools to help systematize or streamline your work. Ask your professional networks what tools they currently use and whether they would recommend them (for example Asana, Feedly, Hootsuite, etc.).