With three months until the end of 2021 today is a good moment to look back & ahead. To prepare for 2022. And to prepare for proper closure of 2021. So, what will guide you in this final quarter of 2021? For most of us, the first thought is, brrrr admin stuff. But it does not need to be just admin. (And by the way, admin does not need to be brrrr either)

Dreaming about 2022

Where do you want to see your nonprofit on 1 January 2022?

How would you like your nonprofit to start the new year? What do you need to have in place on 1 January to fulfil your ambitions for 2022? Think about this as concretely as possible. If you visualize your starting position, for instance in a drawing, it will be easier to become more precise and concrete. And your drawing will be a constant reminder for you and the team of your ultimate motivation for the daily work.

So how to get off to a good start?

Now that your dream for 1 January 2022 is clear, you need to get analytical. What do you need to have in place on 30 November to reach your 1 January dream? And what do you need to have in place by 31 October to reach that state on 30 November? Write these milestones down on big papers and put them in your office or on your laptop’s desktop screen.

From actions to milestones

You can now start planning the actions you need to take week by week until 31 October. (Don’t forget to plan a planning session to define your actions for November!). Be very concrete in what you plan to do and what needs to be produced or achieved. Allocate time in your calendar for that. Be realistic: you will have other tasks, too, from projects or general management responsibilities. Plus, you need to keep some blank space in your schedule to accommodate the unexpected.

Celebrate

Don’t forget to take time every week to reflect on what you have achieved and to celebrate whatever that is!

Closing 2021 successfully

What do you need to wrap up in or about 2021?

Look at the promises you made for 2021. What are things you still need to wrap up to meet the expectations you raised? What project obligations do you still need to fulfil? Think about the community you serve, what do they still need from you this year? What does the board expect to see in 2021? What does your team need?

Make sure you list obligations, such as planned activities, required donor reports and documentation for the board. But also think of things that are not required but that are in a way needed for good closure, such as a thank you message for your private individual donors or a New Year’s message for your team.

Uh oh admin alert

And yes, think of the admin, too. What can you do now in preparation of your annual report 2021? In your accounting system, you can clean up your balance accounts. You can start looking at year-end bookings. But you can also check your data collection systems for information about your website visitors and Facebook fans. You can brainstorm which success stories of 2021 you can record. Do you have all the visuals for 2021 organized in your filing system for easy access?

And more admin!

And finally, check what admin steps are needed to prepare for 2022. Do you need to buy folders for you paper archive? Do you need to renew contracts with team members or service providers? Does the board have a meeting schedule for 2022 yet? Have you set up a folder system in your shared drive yet?

Get your calendar out

Once you have listed all your to-dos to wrap up 2021 perfectly, break them down into actions and arrange these in the right order. Estimate how much time you need to set aside to complete each action and then allocate them the needed time in your calendar. Be realistic: you will have other tasks, too, from projects or general management responsibilities and from your 2022 dreams prep work. Plus, you need to keep some blank space in your schedule to accommodate the unexpected.

Celebrate

Don’t forget to take time every week to reflect on what you have achieved and to celebrate whatever that is!

My key tips

  • When planning tasks in your calendar, try to give each week a specific focus. That will help you get into the flow to complete interrelated tasks smoother.
  • If you don’t have systems or formats in place yet, allocate some extra time to develop a start of a system or format for tasks that you know you will need to do next year also. That way you are concretely investing in your better future today!
  • If you are pressed for time, don’t leave out the work on your 2022 dreams preparation. Instead, try to delegate some of the 2021 closure tasks.

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into the Facebook group and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free Facebook group

You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.