2014: The Year of Action (and a few actions you can take to start the year off right)

Happy New Year from Alford Group!

Recently in a conversation with my colleague, Tafara Pulse, Director of Marketing for Alford Group, we were discussing themes for the coming year that would be both inspiring and useful for us as a firm and for our clients as well.  It was a fun and energizing conversation.

As we were developing ideas, she suggested that we consider 2014 The Year of Action.  She reasoned that nothing truly happens in life unless we take action – and when we do take action, results happen.  I liked what she said and I concurred with her reasoning.

Then, I read in the Los Angeles Times about President Obama making a similar declaration – 2014 will be the “year of action”.  The President is rebounding from a sluggish 2013:  the health care website has not functioned well, unemployment lagged most of the year, and his relationships with Congress (the government shutdown) had not improved.  Yet as the year ended, the website was becoming more functional and more people were signing up for health insurance, the stock market was setting record after record, unemployment fell below 7%, the economy was improving, and Congress actually agreed on a two year budget which the President signed.  He believes all this sets the stage well for the coming year.

I do too.

Those of us who work in the nonprofit sector know the Henry Ford adage well:  “if you believe you can do it, or believe you can’t, you’re right!”  The nonprofit sector has always had a can do spirit and that spirit is born from taking action.  With the economy improving, more people employed, the stock market hitting record highs and Congress actually being a Congress, spirits for 2014 look bright – we’re truly starting to believe again that we can.

Since the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 nonprofits have made things happen with fewer and fewer resources.  Demands for services increased while the ability to meet those demands was challenged.  Over the last five years, organizations have hesitated from taking action as they waited to see how they would be impacted by the recession and what the world would look like on the other side. And now, in 2014, we’re truly on that other side. This is the year to take action on any number of initiatives your organization may have “put on the shelf”.  It is time to take the many ideas, opportunities and plans “off the shelf” and put them into action.

Actions you can take now

We have recently seen remarkable results produced by action by our clients – many of our clients received six- and seven-figure year end gifts in December in response to consistent messaging, cultivation, solicitation, stewardship, creativity and connection. Their actions saw a direct result. If that’s what you’re after also, here are three actions you can take to start the year off on the right foot:

  1. Identify the 50 most important donors to your organization and develop a visitation and communications plan with those individuals or entities.  Incorporate these communications strategies into your overall communications plan.
  2. Assign those donors to your key staff and volunteer leaders to engage them in a conversation about your organization’s mission and how that mission is meeting the significant needs in the community.  Invite board members and donors to be involved in your organizational planning around meeting significant community needs.
  3. Develop 3 or 4 significant initiatives for your organization that will be transformational to the clients you serve and to the community overall and engage your board and top donors in the discussion to fulfill those initiatives.

The Year of Action

Action will be our theme here at Alford Group throughout 2014. This blog, our presentations, and all other research and analysis we do will focus on taking action – what that looks like, which actions are or will be most effective, what the results of specific actions have been, and best practices in taking action for your organization.  We will provide ideas, strategies and tools which your organization will be able to utilize to take action to fulfill your mission to better serve your clients, your constituents and your communities.  Alford Group can and will assist you – all you and your organization have to do is get in action!!


Thomas W. Mesaros
President & CEO