Annual planning creates a roadmap for team success

publication date: Aug 13, 2018
author/source: Hallie McClelland

In 1997 and only two years into my fundraising career, the awesome Lynn Gran took a chance hiring me to oversee the Planned Giving Program at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.

It was an exciting time in conservation and in fundraising, and our Major Gift and Planned Giving work was growing in response. Our activities were high-touch and included face-to-face meetings, events and tons of local, national and international travel.

One of the many things I learned from Lynn’s leadership is that no matter the pace of your daily work, it is important to pause at least once a year and take time to look at the bigger picture – your team’s annual plan.

Over 2 days every summer, Lynn would have us all to her home. She provided breakfast and we would bring the components of a potluck lunch. We would set ourselves up in her living room by spreading ourselves out on her couches and floor. The day would start with pastries galore and end with wine, all in typical Lynn Gran fashion!

Make no mistake – this was a valuable working session with a very casual setting. Lynn had us come to these meetings prepared to discuss the following questions about our portfolio:

- What activities worked this year and why

- What activities didn’t work this year and why

- What activities didn’t get completed and why

- What activities would you like to see implemented next year and why

Our time focused around these questions and together as a team, we used the responses to set our collective plan for the year.

It is now 21 years later and an even more complicated, competitive and busy fundraising world. No matter how busy work can be, I continue to use Lynn’s annual planning model and guiding questions with my own team. I don’t host the sessions at my house anymore (I live too far away from my office) but I do make sure we are ‘away from the mission’ when we get together, I make sure that we have lots of food, lots of time and lots of shared conversation.

Lynn’s planning model gives teams the time to get out of the daily tactical activities and make collective decisions for the coming year and years. Lynn’s model creates thoughtful conversation, team consensus and cohesiveness. Lynn’s planning model creates a roadmap to team success.  

Hallie McClelland, CFRE is Director of Advancement at Kingsway College School in Etobicoke, where she leads the school’s fundraising, marketing/communications, alumni outreach and parent engagement programming.  Hallie has over 20 years of fundraising and relationship management experience, having worked in social services, conservation, health care and education. 


Lynn Gran died far too soon in 2015.

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