It’s that time of year again – when we take stock and think about the dreaded ‘R’ word – resolutions. As I think through my own resolutions, I find the ones that I want to concentrate most on in my personal life seem to have some correlation in the professional world of digital fundraising and engagement. Maybe it shows a pathological need to multi-task or an inability to set boundaries in my life, (but for this blog post anyway) I’m embracing it.

So here are a few resolutions to consider that can do double duty in 2016:

Say Thank You More: I’ve got so much to be grateful for – wonderful friends and family (including a husband using his Holiday break to complete a home improvement project rather than hike in the woods). In 2016, I resolve to not take them for granted, but instead let them know how much I value them.

As digital fundraisers, it’s easy to get complacent and let automated thank you emails do our cultivation work for us. And that’s just not right (or smart). So in 2016 let’s:

  • Review all those automated thank you emails and update the content to reflect the amazing impact that your donors are having right now in your programs.
  • Look at your annual plan and make sure that you’ve got the balance between solicitation and cultivation right. Is your eNewsletter delivering relevant information about how your donors’ gifts are making a difference? Does your calendar include an unexpected message to delight your supporters? Check out this awesome video that St. Baldrick’s did, where donors were enlisted to let researchers know via video calls that they had been awarded grants from the Foundation. Talk about a win/win!
  • Visit your top website pages and look at them through a donor’s eyes. Do they see impact? And are donors credited for their role in making that impact happen? Small copy changes can help reinforce how much you appreciate your donors’ support – and make other visitors see the value of ‘investing’ in your organization.

Listen More: Spending time over the holidays with family and friends, I’ve been reminded how wonderful it is to relax, sit back and listen instead of trying to control the conversation. In 2016, I resolve to hold my tongue a little more and be educated, enlightened and energized by all the smart people in my life.

As digital fundraisers, we spend a lot of time talking to (or at) our donors. And sure, it’s hard to have one-on-one conversations with thousands of supporters. But today’s digital tools make it possible to ‘listen’ if we:

  • Spend some quality time with Google Analytics. Seeing where your web visitors are spending time on your website can provide valuable insights into what issues matter most to them – insights that you can use in your fundraising messages. You can also see what devices they are using to access content (by the way, your website is responsive, isn’t it?)
  • Check out comments on your organization’s Facebook page and other social media properties. If you don’t have dedicated staff to compile information from those key listening vehicles, do it yourself for a half hour every week. And go ahead and answer some of the comments so your fans know you’re listening!

Reconnect with old friends: Now that I’m a semi-empty nester, I’ve actually got a little more time on my hands. In 2016, I resolve to reach out to old friends and meet for drinks, take in a ball game or just catch up via an old fashioned phone call.

As digital fundraisers, we have lots of ‘old friends’ that we’ve lost touched with. Why? Because they have opted out of getting emails from us. Let’s not worry for the moment why donors are opting out, let’s talk about how you can make sure they don’t forget about you when you’re not in their inbox. Google recently joined Facebook and Twitter in allowing you to upload “Audience” lists so that your constituents can see ads for your organization when they are logged into Google search, YouTube and Gmail.

There are no limits to the number of audiences you can target, so consider ads with special messaging targeted at people who are current donors who don’t accept email versus those who accept email, but haven’t opened one from you in a six months. Make sure you code and track your remarketing campaigns to benchmark if serving ads help loyal donors stay loyal, even if they’re not reading your emails. Check out this blog post explaining the program and Google’s policies to make sure you’re using best practices!

All the best for ALL your resolutions in 2016!