5 Ways to Create a Solid Development Foundation in the New Year




Plans are important, but it's the action that makes the plan a reality. This month, the DBD team will be sharing ways for you to jump-start your work in 2023.

Five Ways to Start the New Year Right

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a wood burning fireplace on a cold and snowy day. I love to nurse the fire along and enjoy that bone-deep warmth. It’s just great.

Much to my dismay, our woodpile had shrunk to the point that it was time to get some more wood. We have a great source for pre-cut wood and they delivered a wonderful new pile in early December. I should have stacked it right away when it was still mild … but I didn’t. Then the snow and ice made that pile of wood a huge icy mess.


So today I began digging wood out of the pile, prying the logs apart as they had frozen together, then carted them off to the side of the house. Those that stack wood know that the first few rows are key to a wood pile that will stay stacked throughout the winter. Stick by stick my project continued until it was finally complete.

I put that project off and I paid for it, but I made it right.

I think of the first month of the year as that woodpile. There may be things you put off last year or things you weren’t proud of with your fundraising program. But you know what? You can make it right and amazing for 2023!

Here are a few ideas that can help make sure your development foundation is solid for the upcoming year:

  1. It’s time to freshen up those gift acknowledgment letters. Make them timely and highlight impact. Make the donor the hero. Don’t forget about your automatic online gift acknowledgment too. Review and freshen up your development online presence.
  2. Review your Top 20 and Next 30 prospects. Who are the most important donors or influencers for your organization? Make a goal of reaching out to them in a very personal way – phone call, voicemail, video message, hand-written note – and tell them how much they are appreciated!
  3. Be aware of the pending economic storm clouds and develop strategies should it begin to storm. Remember, more than 70% of all giving is individual. Stay close to your donors. As I’ve said so many times, love them when the market (i.e. the economy) is down and when conditions improve you will be first in line! 
  4. Clarify your goals and how they relate to your strategic plan. Meet with your staff team to review, dream, set goals and celebrate. Take the time to make some personal investments into your staff team as you begin 2023. Ask the question “What does success look like for us in 2023?”
  5. During the pandemic, we introduced the concept of radical stewardship. How can you thank and thank again those that support your organization? Set a goal of being the very best organization at expressing gratitude in 2023. Do this well and support will follow – in good economic times and bad. 

Wishing you every success and joy as you step into 2023! Here’s to learning together.

nonprofit strategy guide


Posted by Bruce Berglund
Bruce Berglund

Written by Bruce Berglund

For nearly 30 years, Bruce Berglund, CFRE, has been a successful professional fundraiser in the fields of higher education, arts and culture, and social services. Bruce is the CEO and Founder of DBD Group (formerly Donor by Design Group), a national firm providing comprehensive fundraising services to nonprofits, churches, community colleges and schools. DBD is currently managing more than $3 billion in capital, annual and endowment campaigns. Bruce is a highly sought-after writer, speaker and teacher.

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