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Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year Traditions for Nonprofits

Welcome the Year of the Dragon, the most auspicious year of the Chinese zodiac! On January 23, 2012, Chinese communities throughout the world begin two weeks of celebrations to mark the lunar new year, the culmination of many preparations and traditions that have been in place for generations.

As we begin this new year, here are some of the traditions that can be productive to apply to your nonprofit life:

Conduct a thorough cleaning. Of your database, that is. Are you collecting useful information? Is it organized the way that is productive? Are there pledges that should be written off or past donors that can be archived?

Reconcile old debts and grudges. It's not just about money. Are there people to whom you owe follow up, or prospective donors that you should "bless and release?" In some cases, you're better to let a donor go than continue to pursue a gift that doesn't work for the contributor. Reassess the donors that are in cultivation and decide what you need to do to move them forward or to move them on to another cause.

Give "lucky money." The iconic red envelopes are given to children to insure that they have good luck for the coming year. In the same vein, think about your own philanthropy and consider a gift to a charitable cause that is not the one you work for. Was there an organization you missed in December? Is there a new cause you would like to support? Being a donor makes you a better, more aware fundraiser.

Look forward, not back. Earlier this month, you may have assessed how things went last calendar year. Now is the time to finalize the calendar year plan if you haven't already. If you've already set goals for the year, plan out milestones and action steps now.

Wear red. This has no translation to the nonprofit field. It's just good luck.

Celebrate abundance. The New Year's Eve dinner is traditionally a large celebration for the family to celebrate how much wealth they have, regardless of what actual physical wealth they hold, and carry over that optimism to the new year. Too often, with the bustle of the holidays and year end giving campaigns, and the stress of having to raise every dollar, development program staff do not have the time to celebrate the generosity of their donors and the successes of their efforts. Now that the year end gifts have been processed and thank you letters sent, take a moment to be thankful for the support you receive. Gather those close to your cause and say, "We have so much!"

Wishing you, and your nonprofit, prosperity in the new year! Gong Xi Fai Cai!

Other links:
Here's how GoalBusters celebrated Chinese New Year

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