your social media efforts are working?
your gift officers are effective?
your annual giving program is growing sustainably?
your stewardship program is engaging?
your database is healthier?
your constituent relations program is expanding?
By the way, “I will know because we are raising more money!” is a horrible response to all of these questions.
Gift income can increase in any period of time due to a variety of reasons, many of which have little to do with good, consistently-implemented strategies (i.e., a significant planned gift is realized on the last day of the year and pushes your gift income totals well above goal).
Instead, we should be theming our work so that each functional area of our advancement program has specific, quantifiable goals that evidence important progress. For instance, the theme for your major gifts program one year could be that you need to complete discovery visits with prospects. You would then set a goal of how many discovery visits you will make to prove that your major gifts program is being strengthened.
Or, perhaps, your annual giving program needs to add more younger donors. You would then set a goal focused on increasing the number young donors to show that your annual giving program is becoming more robust.
Too often, we end up allowing one year to roll into the next and only focus on “dollars raised” to prove we are making progress. But within the layers of every program, the good leaders find the themes that need to be addressed.
They set goals based on those themes. And, they celebrate the people who ensure the achievement of those goals.
That’s how you know.