Can Looking Backwards Stop You from Tripping Up?

The summer is often the time when non-profits use the quieter months to plan.

Looking to the past can help you figure out the futureLooking to the past can help you figure out the future

But before you get carried away with what you can achieve and what your goals are, you need to look at where you’ve come from.


Start with a Review

  1. How much money has your organisation raised over the past 12 months?
  2. What were your fundraising successes?
  3. And what fell flat on it’s face in terms of fundraising?  Harder to look at, I know, but you might just realise why something failed spectacularly by taking a look at it a few months down the line.


  • Are there any trends that you can see starting to take shape with regard to your fundraising?
  • Are you raising huge amounts of money from trusts but nothing from individuals?
  • Or did your sponsorship deals fly off the shelf this year but trusts just weren’t interested?

And as well as looking at trends, try to look objectively at why those trends might have come about.  They may be due to external factors, such as market trends or your competitors, but they could equally be something you have control over so think about WHY as well as the WHAT to see if you can start to shape your future gifts.


  • Where did your fundraising suffer or struggle?
  • Was it to do with the message you were sending out – or not sending out?
  • Did you have a project that was difficult to ‘sell’ to potential donors – why was that and would there be a particular type of donor who might have been more ready to support it?
  • Do you not have the staff resources to achieve what you needed to – and can this be addressed?  If not, perhaps it’s time for a radical rethink in terms of what your fundraising can deliver.


Now that you have a picture of where you’ve come from, you want to start to look at where you’re going.

So are there any trends in your previous fundraising that you’d like to continue to develop – think about how you can go about doing that.

Or do you want to turn your fundraising around and look at a completely different type of funding?  A risky strategy perhaps – but then again, if you’re completely reliant on one or two sources of funding that’s pretty risky in itself.

Do you already have strong networks among your board, staff and partners – or do you need to build upon these?


Looking at your strengths and weaknesses in terms of previous fundraising will not only give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t but it will start to show you where there are gaps – in terms of resources, networks, experience, messages etc. – and you can begin to put together a picture of what’s achievable now and what you need to focus on and develop over the next 12 months.


It’s a cliche but failing to plan IS planning to fail, so get some clarity around your goals but looking backwards not forwards (that’s the next step) and you will take the first steps along the road to fundraising success.


 If you need to review your fundraising but don’t have the time to do this yourself – or simply don’t know where to start.  Get in touch to hear more about my Fundraising Healthcheck service.

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