Panic and Urgency

It’s been a frustrating month.  Clients lying low, wanting to chill after the holidays.  Frustration because I feel time slipping by and wonder why they can’t feel the urgency.  It’s something I often wonder about.  Too many nonprofit organizations feel panic about the lack of money and resources, but don’t seem to sense the urgency of doing anything about it.

Panic, of course, is a sudden widespread fear.  Urgency is firmness, resolve, determination.  One leads to random squawking (read Chicken Little), while the other gets you to considered action, measured steps.

The start of a new year (fiscal or, as now, calendar) is always a good time to look back at where you’ve been, look at where you are, and then consider where you want to be next year at this time.  It’s a time to look at your data, and to make decisions based on your assessments of that data.

Ahhh…data-driven action.  That means don’t simply pluck a number out of the air and say, “This is how much we need to raise this year.”  Instead, look at your strategic plan (you have one, yes?  More to the point, you know where you stashed it?) and the price tag that (of course) is attached to it.  Then look to your revenue streams—where your money comes from.  From that you can decide how much you really need to raise this year.  And don’t forget about reserves.  If you need 10, go for 12, so something will be there to buffer you in bad times; allow you to take advantage of unexpected opportunities in other times.

Now that you know how much, how do you get there?  Consider your data.

Who is in your donor pool? How much can you expect to raise from each of them (or each grouping)?  What prospects do you have that you’ve started to cultivate?  What are the ways you need to employ to reach them?

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to build your development calendar for the year.  Sure, yes, this should have been developed earlier, but no matter.  Develop it now if you haven’t; check what have created and see if it still makes sense.

With resolution and deliberation, take those first steps.  For the most part, follow the plan, though do leave room to maneuver and take advantage of serendipity.  Know where you want to go, and then without excuse or procrastination, start heading there.


Janet Levine works with nonprofit and educational helping them build their capacity and increase fundraising revenues. She is also the co-author of Get Ready, Get Set, Get Grants, a comprehensive guide to writing winning proposals. Learn more about Janet at her website, Buy the book at


About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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