Fundraising Academy Blog

Panel Review: Start the New Year with 2020 Vision

Celebrating the New Year
As 2019 comes to a close, we’re looking forward to a new decade full of innovation, fresh ideas, and goals to focus on.

We're particularly excited to see how nonprofit organizations embrace this new beginning as we enter 2020. But how do you sift through new ideas and develop meaningful goals that pertain to your team and propel the mission of your organization? To help our nonprofit professionals answer this question and get in the spirit of preparing for 2020, we hosted a panel entitled Start the New Year with 2020 Vision and welcomed three incredible speakers to discuss trends, goals, data, and more. 

Meet the Experts

Vince Evans, Development Officer 
Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona

Vince Evans

Vince Evans serves as the Development Officer for Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. He previously worked in the Office of Federal Programs at the Mississippi Department of Education, the Mississippi Museum of Art as Director of Resource Development and Special Projects, and at the University of Mississippi, where he taught philosophy and public policy as a fellow of the honors college. Originally from New York, Vince is a Marshall Scholar and a graduate of the University of Oxford.


Adrian Jamieson, Director of Development
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona

Adrian Jamieson serves as the Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. She moved to Arizona in 2013 to pursue her master’s in Public Administration at ASU and has been an active member of the Arizona nonprofit community ever since. Before joining BBBSAZ, she served as the Resource and Program Development Manager at Voices for CASA Children and has worked with Inspire Arizona, a youth development program focused on building civic engagement among high school students. She is an AFP member and serves as a board member for YNPN Phoenix. 


Todd Vigil, Director of Marketing and Communications
Heard Museum

As the former Chief Marketing Officer for the Phoenix Symphony, Todd Vigil led an industry-leading shift in strategy, as well as significant investments in digital marketing, database utilization, and dynamic pricing to maximize sales and marketing initiatives. This led to new records in single ticket attendance and revenue, including record growth in new audiences and increasing classical performance attendance. In the Fall of 2019, Todd accepted a new position as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Heard Museum.

Our Favorite Takeaways

From fundraising to networking to storytelling, our panelists touched on tons of great ideas, tips, and tricks to help us start thinking about our professional resolutions for 2020. Check out our favorites below! 

Resolution #1: Work on Those Relationships

Relationships are especially important to focus on, since many of these relationships can determine the success of your organization. Donors, for instance, are critical to building up the financial status of your nonprofit, while increasing your volunteer numbers is helpful for fundraising events. 

Panelist Speakers

Our panelists even recommended working with other nonprofit professionals to see what is working well in their organizations. These types of relationships can be a great way to learn from the mistakes and successes of others, as well as identify new processes and problem-solving techniques. Diverse perspectives provide a ton of value! Seeking these perspectives will make you an even stronger advocate for your cause.

Developing relationships with other nonprofit professionals can also help you enhance your own career. Take advantage of networking opportunities (check out our blog article on enhancing your networking skills), and follow up with internal colleagues, external partners, and professionals from the nonprofit sector. You never know when you’re going to meet someone looking for your skillset, so make sure you take advantage of those opportunities to meet people.

Resolution #2: Focus on the Data

We know, we know - “data” just doesn’t sound fun. But using data to help you make informed decisions will not only make your organization stronger but can even spark the creative energy in your team as you work together to develop solutions. Analytics are good tools to use for tracking trends, identifying problems, and building effective processes. So what kind of data should you be looking at?

There are tons of KPIs (key performance indicators) you can focus on, and your chosen KPIs greatly depend on your organization. Todd Vigil’s favorite one, for instance, is ROI (return on investment), since he wants to ensure that the money his organization puts into its operations serves a specific purpose to its mission.

This process doesn’t all have to be all about numbers and spreadsheets though. Bringing your team together to discuss your organization’s data can inspire unique problem-solving skills and teamwork. When your team understands the greater implications of your organization’s data, they’re able to help develop solutions, refine techniques, and see the bigger picture.

Resolution #3: Set Realistic Goals

Another major idea our panelists touched on was that nonprofits are too often prone to setting enormous and unrealistic stretch goals for themselves and their team. Even if your team manages to produce great results, this can sometimes feel like a “loss” if the results fall short of the stated goals. 

Speaking in front of group

Instead, think about taking a look at the data you’ve compiled and use that to help you generate realistic, attainable goals. You can even bring your team into the discussion when you start setting objectives so they feel more connected to the process and the results. 

This is not to say that everyone should strive for the “bare minimum,” but rather, focus on what you can realistically do to effect change in your organization. Celebrate your wins, and be flexible with your goals to account for upcoming changes in the sector. 

Resolution #4: Be a Good Storyteller

Storytelling is a valuable skill for nonprofit professionals to have because it helps others connect with your mission. Statistics and data are important (see Resolution #2), but they don’t paint the entire picture. Both quantitative and qualitative results are important to accurately depict what your organization is doing. 

Vince Evans, in particular, mentioned that this skill is becoming increasingly necessary. Being ready with a story can convert prospects into donors or inspire someone to volunteer with your organization. It can take some time to develop this skill, of course, but don’t shy away from telling these stories. You can also check out this article on storytelling to learn more about this important skill.

Resolution #5: Take Care of Your Team

This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to take care of your team (and yourself!) amid your day-to-day operations and responsibilities. There is always so much to do with so little time, and many professionals find themselves juggling a variety of responsibilities, especially as they are in the middle of those end-of-year campaigns.


Taking time to focus on your team can boost their morale and help avoid burnout. They’ve worked hard this year (and so have you), so be sure to take time to relax and reflect on the year’s great accomplishments. Organizing a team-building activity or a fun team dinner can be a great way to say thank you to your team and give them the opportunity to recharge. You can even do a fun holiday-inspired activity like gift-giving or potlucks.

And of course, as Adrian Jamieson recommends, be sure to take care of yourself. Enjoy the holidays, and give yourself a break when you need it. It’s okay to take that opportunity to do something you enjoy doing and spend time traveling or relaxing. If you want to learn more about self-care in the nonprofit world, be sure to check out this webinar on constructing a happy, healthy nonprofit.

Thank you to our incredible panelists for their valuable insights and to the nonprofit sector for making our community better and stronger. Let's raise a glass in tribute to a successful end-of-year campaign and a smooth transition as we ring in the new year. Cheers to 2020! 

Looking for new resources or networking opportunities in 2020? Check out our upcoming Fundraising Academy Accelerate program!

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