Setting Your Nonprofit Up for Success: How To End The Year Right

 The year is quickly coming to an end. In a few weeks we will be fully immersed in the holiday season. However, this is the critical time where nonprofits should spend time reflecting on what happened this year and planning for the next year.

To ensure the new year builds off of – or is better than – this year, you need to get prepared. Here are a few things you can do to set your nonprofit up for success in the upcoming year:


  • Celebrate the success your nonprofit had this year. What were your wins and gains? Talk with your team and the board about what has been accomplished this year and how your organization is better for it.
  • Document what you learned. What have you learned this year about your programming or services that was more visible this year? Maybe you changed a service or got more insight into a program you offer. How did that impact your organization’s mission and vision?


  • Dust off your strategic plan! Well, hopefully, your strategic plan has been a living document in the organization and you’ve used it throughout the year. But things happen. If you have not, pull it out and review your goals, objectives, and metrics. How successful were you in aligning your programs and services to the overall plan? Where did you miss the mark? Are there things you want to carry forward in the new year or eliminate as they are no longer relevant?
  • How’s your money? Many nonprofits may be taking a deep breath after filing their 990s for the previous year, however, nonprofit leaders should be on guard by looking at how you will close this year. Will your nonprofit close the year strong by bringing in those account receivables or new pledges for programs? How are you doing with your account receivables? Start now by asking your contributors to make their pledge payments before the end of the year.
  • Staff performance. Now is the time to prepare your year-end staff performance reviews. If your organization is able to provide bonuses or other employee incentives, you want to get this done before the end of the year so that you can reward the staff accordingly. Both 2020 and 2021 have been tough years, so employee recognition may help boost employee morale as you enter a new year.


  • Update your strategic plan to reflect your new reality. This is an opportunity to update your strategic plan so that you are poised to meet goals in the new year. Don’t have a strategic plan? Then you should begin planning the development of a plan for the next 3-5 years. Organizations who develop and use their plans for strategic guidance are more successful in aligning programs and services to their mission.
  • Based on your strategic plan, refine your organizational budget for the upcoming year. Your nonprofit budget should be aligned with your strategic priorities. Make sure all of those nuanced expenses and revenue are reflected correctly so that you’ve got financial goals you can achieve in the new year.

Setting up your nonprofit for success for a new year means closing out the year successfully. Begin your successful outlook now! Are you a nonprofit organization that values information like this?

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