How to Target Businesses for Donations

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Fundraising can be tricky. While you may be supporting a fantastic and beneficial cause that could change lives, it can be difficult to get people to part from their hard-earned money to help it out. When looking for charitable benefactors, there are definitely right and wrong ways to go about courting donations. If you’re unsure how to even start looking for donators, check out these few tips on targeting specific businesses for donations.

  • Determine which business to target.

If you’re running a nonprofit in your local area, chances are that the businesses within the same area will be the best ones to target. If you need help knowing where to even start, visit your local Chamber of Commerce (and join if you haven’t already) where they’ll be able to provide you with lists of businesses and information surrounding them. From there, narrow down your list. Identify companies with whom you do business, and capitalize upon your already existing relationship. Determine which businesses have a history of donating or have higher ups on the boards of other nonprofits. Businesses who have a history of benevolence will be more likely to lend aid to your cause.

  • Do your research.

Just like in a job interview, finding out as much as you can about the business before you meet with them can make a literal world of difference. Having background knowledge of the business and gathering information on the people with whom you’ll be meeting can help you tailor your speech or presentation to target them individually. Also, it can be helpful to find out if the business has a history of donating to nonprofits and if any board members or executives do charity work or are involved with other organizations. Meeting with people who are already involved in the world of philanthropy and nonprofits can be a huge foot in the door and make it easier for you

  • Go in person.

The best way to get someone to donate their time or money for a cause is by humanizing your cause, and what better way to humanize something than by putting a face to it. By greeting your potential donors face to face, you allow yourself to become a spokesperson for the organization and can represent it in a personal way that an email, gift basket, or pledge drive never could. Putting a face to the cause can help you stand out in the sea of nonprofits and can make your cause more relatable.

Saying Thank You to Donors

PhotoAs a fundraiser, you are only as good as your relationships with your donors. Maintaining a strong relationship requires a great deal of communication and personal attention. This could entail anything from holding donor events to sending personalized emails. However, many fundraisers run into the problem of how to keep fundraising personal when the donor list continues to grow. Keeping donors engaged is key and, as it turns out, videos are a great, engaging way to say thank you for donating.  

Videos have the potential to not only communicate a message, but also get people to feel emotional about your cause. The music, imagery, and theme can make people invested in the same thing in which you are invested, and therefore make them want to be long term donors. Do not be mistaken, however, these videos require a lot of forethought and work. Below are some tips to get you started on making your very own thank you video for donors.

Decide on a Theme

The theme of your video should line up with your cause, and can affect how the video is made. For example, fundraising for more personal causes may require just a phone camera while raising money for a larger cause requires higher tech gear. Once you decide on a theme, you can get to work on forming your video.

Sketch Out your Scenes

It may be tempting to grab a camera, shoot a bunch of film, and go through the footage to decide what fits best where afterwards. However, this will end up being a huge waste of time. Instead, write out a script or a storyboard, detailing what you will say and do in each scene of the video. This will allow you to see if you’re missing any vital information before filming gets started.

Tell Viewers What Happened

Thank you videos cannot just be videos saying thank you. They must detail how the contributions were used and why they were necessary. Donors are more likely to give recurring donations if they are confident their contributions are making a real difference.

For more tips on making a thank you video, check out this article from Razoo.

Creating Effective Fundraising Campaign Goals

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“What are your fundraising goals?” While it may sound like a simple question, especially for a nonprofit corporation, many NGO firms and charity organizations tend to struggle with the answer. In many ways, their goals go beyond the financial funding competencies where their work is simply meant to drive an overarching impact on the under-resources and under-privileged communities all around the world. As great as it is to have that longer-lasting vision, it is still incredibly broad and unhelpful within the overall operations of an organization. Like it or not, money will always play a role. Because of this, you need to have strong, well established, and well-defined tangible goals in order to see success within your fundraising campaign. Without them, the workplace can feel a bit suffocating and worrisome, especially if there is a lack of direction to help navigate your efforts in the right direction. Having a clear vision of the end-state will allow you to take the necessary steps in order to achieve success. For this to be beneficial, you need to be crystal clear idea on what you are looking to achieve at the end of every quarter.

Setting a fundraising goal is vital because it helps you establish a more collaborative mindset. While easy as it may sound, creating these fundraising goals are incredibly tough. Yes, we can all throw the goal that we want to hit a million dollars. While I will never criticize your professional ambition of hitting that top level, I will question whether or not it is plausible, especially if you’re running a small level fundraiser. When creating your fundraising goal, you want to make sure of two things. The first thing your goals should do is that it should challenge your team each and every day. Many people need that level of challenge and motivation to get them through the mundane task of the office. They need to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that their work is steering the train. Now, as much as you want to shoot for the stars, you also want to be tangible about your goals. This brings us to the second requirement when establishing your fundraiser goals. While it is always fun to think about hitting those fundraising makers, you have to live in the realm of reality. Not doing so can be incredibly detrimental to the overall success and growth of the campaign. As much as your goals are meant to push you, they will not be able to be reach if they are clearly unattainable.

Now, as you create these goals, you want to start evaluating the situation holistically. Many organizations make the mistake of being too broad and vague with their targets. To prevent that, you need to analyze and internalize every factor of your fundraiser. To start, analyze the data. Look at the previous success and flaws of last years campaign and evaluate the strengths and positives. From there, you and your team should meticulously breakdown the information in every which way possible. This can be from the number of donors you have to the number of financial gifts you received in that year. The more information you know, the better. Once you have consolidated that information, look at the targeted goals of the overall organization. Ask yourself what the financial cost are for said-charitable resources and implement that into your thinking. This will allow you to truly understand the figure should realistically be looking at moving forward in the future.

In addition to this, try asking yourself specific overarching questions such as: What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to understand about your campaign? These questions will provide a strong overview so that you can establish efficient and effective steps that can lead you to your goals. Think of these as mini-goals. These particular objectives are meant to help you conceptualize your path for success. To help improve this, try and make sure these steps are able to measure progress. This will allow you to analyze whether or not you are on or off track when it comes to your campaign’s achievement.

What is Fundraising Success?

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In many of my blogs, I have discussed the overall ins-and-outs of fundraising. While there is a multitude of avenues and approaches I can continue highlighting, the one that I want to speak more about is the overall fundraising success of an organization. With the immense amount of stress and high standards for a campaign, it is easy to get lost within the day-to-day operations of the job. In fact, with the financial figures in our mind, many workers within the field measure their fundraising success simply by how much the organization was able to raise. In their minds, success is based on getting from figure $X to figure $Y where Y is greater than X. So a campaign is deemed more successful if the current figure is larger than the last year’s figure, right? In the grand scheme of things, getting that number ahead of last years is only half the battle. There are a multitude of factors that need to be taken into consideration before truly determining the overall success of a campaign. 

To start, there are two different types of money getting raised, unrestricted donations and highly restricted donations. Unrestricted donations are funds that an organization can leverage loosely. This can be funding for specific supplies for the foundation of the mission or specific operational cost for the organization as a whole. Whatever is the case, this financial funding is the oil that truly makes a nonprofit run. In comparison, highly restricted donations are those that have more limitations to their use. While they may be easier to raise, they are not necessarily the most impactful, especially if you are looking to grow a new entity of your nonprofit organization. Because of this, it is important to truly understand the overarching impact both financial donations can have on an organization.

In addition to the type of funding that is raised, you also have to consider a variety of other factors such as the starting point of a campaign, last years numbers, the necessary cost for future goals, and the overarching goal of the organization. Because of this, one question continues to come to mind: What is the true success of a fundraiser? In many ways, the answer is simple. While we analyze, breakdown, compare, and internalize the data of the fundraiser, it is all to translate whether or not that financial figure is enough to deliver the necessary resources of the nonprofit organization in executing its mission. At times, funding may not be as high as it was last year. While we would want to do whatever it takes to push that number higher, we have to realize the vision and goals of our philanthropic efforts. By asking that end-goal of ‘What is our mission?’ you will be able to determine an accurate figure that is representative in gauging the overall success of your campaign.

In addition to that, one piece of advice I like to give other people, especially those in the fundraising sector, is to celebrate the wins, even the small ones. When the results of all actions are taken into account, fundraising can be a very difficult and arduous task. To celebrate these victories, especially through the dark times, you will allow your and your team to persevere effectively, effectively and consistently to your campaign’s end-goal. In addition, there are fewer things more uplifting than knowing that you are creating something that will have a strong potential for change. Constantly keeping that your fundraiser’s mission in mind will help motivate and inspire you in eventually reaching that success.  

Focus on Your Donors

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When it comes to fundraising, it is absolutely imperative that you focus on your donors. As much as you want to continue building growth and development with new benefactors, you want to make sure you cultivate a strong foundational relationship with the individuals who have already contributed to your cause. In the grand scheme of things, nonprofit organizations need to view their operations and logistics as a business. Providing that necessary investment with specific donors, especially your high-valued clients, can, in turn, provide a stronger return on investment.

To start, let’s first examine why so many nonprofits overlook this step. When it comes to focusing on donors, many NGOs and organizations look primarily for growth. While focusing on other avenues and aspects will always be the name of the game when it comes to fundraising, you cannot forget about the individuals who helped established your presence in the beginning. By focusing and investing in your previous donors, you can essentially meet your fundraising goals, quarter after quarter by simply reaching out to that already tapped potential. By involving those individuals with the process, the overall return can lead to either new donations or new donors simply from your interaction and relationship with one client.

To do this, you need to first and foremost build a relationship and rapport with them. Any strong nonprofit organization knows that when it comes to landing a donation, it all begins with how you interact with the person on the other side of the table. Make sure you listen to their intrinsic goals. Ask them those overarching questions of what they believe in and what they are looking for. In many cases, your goals and vision align with their needs. By leveraging that knowledge, you can create that much-needed bond that can continue for years on end.

Once that bond is forged, it will be your job to communicate with that donor. This can be done in a variety of ways. Start by reporting back to them. For many of these donors, they want to know that their donations are leading to something great. Provide them that necessary feedback by reporting how their gifts are making that transformational change on an individual or a community. This can be done through a simple newsletter, appeals, social media, your websites, an email, a phone call, or other communication channels. The more consistent you are the better.  

In addition to communicating and updating your donor, try sending gifts and acknowledgments to them. This will always be important. When you make it a habit to send your donors a thank you letter or a gift of gratitude, you are forging that ever-lasting strong relationship. To continue building on that, consistently update them with information. Share various photos and sentiments of thank you cards from other parties. Here, an emotional appeal will play a large role. Not only will it give you a chance to connect with them, but also it will showcase the impact that their gift has done for another life.

Last but not least, stay donor focus. As stated before, it is easy to get lost within the operations of the day when it comes to fundraising. The simple idea of more donors leads to more donations absolutely works. But by hitting that low-hanging fruit of retaining donors on a long-term campaign, you will be able to see a stronger return as a whole when it comes to meeting your financial goals. To do this, continue communicating with those individuals. Everything flows into communication. Being donor focus can spark a wide variety of opportunities, which will be fundamental for your nonprofit’s future.

Providing Constructive Feedback for your Fundraiser

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When it comes to the growth and overall development for any campaign, the success of any fundraiser falls primarily on your ability to internalize the strengths and weaknesses of your fundraising strategy in a strong and holistic manner. By finding various beneficial ways for improvement, you will be able to refine and perfect any mishaps or mistakes that are preventing you from reaching your quarterly and annual fundraising goals.

To start, we have to, of course, understand the concept of constructive feedback. When it comes to constructive feedback, there has always been a negative connotation attached to its name. While difficult as it may be to highlight specific weaknesses within a project or an employee, constructive feedback can provide various positives for growth and development. Think of it like this. In life, settling will always be the biggest hurdle preventing you from success. Settling for anything less than you deserve will only force you to move two steps back than ten steps forward. Similar to this concept, settling on a ‘winning idea’ or ‘the traditional standards’ will only hurt your process for potential development. In order for you to achieve your intrinsic fundraising goals, you need to challenge the overall status quo by reflecting and evaluating what you can do in the future. By assuming that type of ‘do not settle’ mentality, you will be able to take particular negative conversations to positive professional discussions that can essentially improve and mend the skills, capabilities, attitudes, and strategy for your fundraising campaign.

Now, to do this effectively, you have to make sure you start by analyzing your previous campaigns. Go even as far as five years ago to truly gain a holistic understanding of the changes and trends within the data. By having that knowledge, primarily data, in mind, you will be able to uncover specific trends that can help you in the future. Once you have analyzed the campaign to its fullest, begin by cultivating a set of constructive questions that can elude you a more strategic plan.

When it comes to questions, focus on the data. Ask yourself, as well as the rest of the board, what internal and external factors could have led to those positive and negative trends. Analyze specific year-to-year approaches and ask which strategies worked and which ones did not. By thinking critically and asking these overarching questions, you will be able to discover the meaning behind the numbers. For many nonprofits, understand the data beyond the numbers will always lead to something greater. It gives you specific opportunities where you can question the overall facilities and operations of your organization so that group can culminate a strong and impactful attack plan.

Last but not least, you want to make sure you are evaluating the operational side of your organization. This means providing that much needed constructive criticism to your employees and workers. As stated above, constructive feedback is very similar to an overall evaluation for growth. While this can build tension, or even anxiety, for your employees, you want to make sure that every person, at the end of the day, leaves the workplace with a goal in mind.

In the grand scheme of things, there will always be opportunities for improvement. In order to hit your fundraising markers year after year, you want to make sure that you, as well as the rest of your organization, is progressing each and every day. By assimilating that concept of change, you will be able to a variety of growth such as strong leadership, refined operations, and impactful strategies. Remember, strength and growth only come through continuous understanding and change.  Do not let if hinder your abilities. Instead, embrace the new world order.

Avoid these Mistakes when Fundraising

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When it comes to nonprofit organizations, it is imperative that you understand how impactful emotional appeal can benefit your fundraising campaigns. Just think about it. Why do you think donate to a particular cause or organization? Why in fact was it initially on their radar?

The answers to many of these questions lie in the case that people feel inherently content when they do some particular act of kindness. As a business leader and fundraising expert with over twenty plus years within the nonprofit and higher education fundraising sector, one of the biggest advice I give to my colleagues and friends is that if you want to spark change, you have to understand their perspectives. Many of these nonprofit organizations make the mistake and assume that the general public already understands the overarching problem that exists within today’s society. Because of this informational gap, their fundraising inherently fails to meet the intended numbers because they have inadvertently removed the emotional and informational impact that aligns with the overall brand identity of their mission.

To prevent you from making fundraising failure, I have highlighted three common mistakes organizations make when it comes to fundraising. Remember, emotions are a power thing. Leveraging that idea within your campaign will always showcase your goals and your mission for a better and brighter future.

Mistake: Assuming everyone already knows the problem

As much as we can think that everyone understands the social and civil injustice that is going on in the world, we have to look at the situation in the donor’s perspective. In their eyes, they can only scratch the surface. Many of these campaigns, especially when it comes to the language and tone of the movement, is usually tailored to those who are experts. As much as we want to showcase a professional knowledgeable image, we need to understand that the rest of the general public is not attuned what we know. Instead, begin tailoring your information in the most simplistic way possible. Highlight the various problems and your organization’s mission and goals to solve the problem and make the world a better place. By having this information tailored for them than for your peers, you will get a much-needed stronger response, especially when it comes to your fundraising.

Mistake: Ignoring the emotional appeal of your brand

Just because you are a nonprofit organization does not mean people understand the emotional appeal of your mission. In order to connect with your donors and supporters, your branding message should go beyond the shotgun approach. Instead, leverage the emotional appeal that can be a powerful component to your nonprofit brand. Go beyond the private sector branding concept of what is ‘appeal’ and ‘cool’ and focus back on the message. Any type of confusion can compromise future donors and supporters in advocating your message.

Mistake: Selling the brand than highlighting the impact

While various branding and marketing techniques are transferable from the entertainment and private sector to the nonprofit sector, you have to understand the dichotomy that exists between the two. For the entertainment and private sector, their goal is to sell a product in the most profitable way possible. As much as you can think that this approach can increase fundraising donors, you have to understand that, for a nonprofit, you are not selling an item. Instead, you are selling a mission; you are highlighting, educating, and emphasizing a specific problem and invoking your cardinal principles of how your organization is going to solve it. Because your brand is in itself just an idea, you want to make sure you are appealing to the emotions and ideas that the general public can relate to. For them, they know they are not going to use your product outside of topic of discussion. Because of this, you need to think of various fruitful ways that can appeal than the surface level of generosity. Show them that they are the key to a better future. Show them that they are the force for a better life. And most importantly, show them that the change for something greater than themselves.

How to Improve your Digital Strategy

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With the rise of technology, streamlining nonprofit campaigns that are more mobile friendly and technologically up to date is now more than ever one of the biggest priorities for any type of fundraising strategy. Just take a look at how various organizations such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge were able to both advertise their message and increase their donations in just a short period of time. It wasn’t anything by chance. Instead, it was done through a fun concept that was able to attract a wide group of people including business leaders, celebrities, athletes, and political figures all around the world.

If you are looking to illuminate the future of your fundraising, you need to begin strategizing innovative and effective ways in how technology can raise your mission of your organization and your donor listing. At the end of the day, technology has advanced greatly to connect a wide range of people. To leverage this, I have provided various tips in how to you create your digital plan of attack.

Think Mobile! Use the Power of the Tablet!

One of the biggest assumptions you need to veer away from is that people are more willing to use their computers than they are their phones or tables. You can even go as far as to say that more people, especially elders, are illiterate when it comes to that type of technology. Regardless of the statistics, you as a fundraising strategist should never rule anything out. Studies have shown that in recent years, older users have proven to be very adaptable when it comes to newer technology and are just as likely to donate online as their younger counterparts. To enhance this, make sure your website or donor application is fast and easy to navigate. Unlike a computer, mobile phones and tablets may have problems accessing particular sites because of the speed and technological logistics of the site. To alleviate this problem, make sure you are able to test out your product and sources through any type of mobile technological device. This will help you identify any holes for online donations.

Make your Site User Friendly…Cut out the Fat!

When catering to any audience, the ideal goal is to strike a happy balance between the websites logistics aesthetics and its user-friendliness. For the design itself, you wan to be particular about every detail. To help with this, think like the user. Make sure the site is set up so that the ‘donation’ button is seen at the top and bottom of the page so that they do not miss it. In addition, try to keep it simple yet sleek. That type of design allows your site to be user-friendlier, but also faster. For a strong website, make sure you have the following pages:

  • About Page
  • History / Mission and Goals
  • Donation Page
  • Contact Page

Now, talking strategically, when it comes to driving conversions, make sure you are prominently featuring all of your most common actionable functions. Make sure the ‘donate’ button is clearly visible on each and every page. You want to constantly remind your user of the option to donate or volunteer.

To learn more about how to enhance your sites, please click here.

Don’t be Lazy…Make sure you optimize the Social Media Side!

Since the early 2000s, social media has grown dramatically and has persistently established its presence on almost every organization, business, and corporation in the world. While developing a social media strategy is a must for nonprofit organizations, it is important that you tailor your efforts in improving your online presence. This include the following social media properties: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Having these connection will not only allow you to showcase your work and your organizations mission, but also the work and efforts that other people can do by donating to your cause.

Remember, the most important thing to note about designing a strong, consistent, and accommodating digital experience for your foundation is that you do not compromise on the standard and quality of your campaign. By leveraging clean designed websites, strong social media platforms, and accessible options, you will be able to share the interest and engagement of your work today and your work in the future.

How to Engage your Volunteers for your Non-Profit

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While a big push for many non-profit organizations is to gain and increase the necessary financial donations from donors, a huge focus that NGOs should also invest in are their volunteers. Volunteers, especially for those in the non-profit sector, are vital factors in cultivating the overall environment and work culture at the office. They serve in many capacities within these organizations by contributing their time, energy, talents, and endeavor in promoting and highlight the overall goals that the organization tries to accomplish each and every day. Without their help, many non-profits would not be able to promote their positive mission on a grander scale.

So what do volunteers contribute to the office? How can they be the game changer in promoting the image and brand for your mission of your non-profit organization?

To start, we have to understand the service that these like-minded individuals invest at your company. For many volunteers, they are generally enthusiastic people who want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. While their reasons may differ, the quality and end result will always be the same. For some, they serve because of the mission and core values of the company. For others, they assist because of their own conjectures for social justice. Whatever is their reason, the help they serve provides new insights, energy, and assistance to whatever extra work is needed at the office to make the daily operations run smoother.

Because of this, it is absolutely vital that you cultivate a vibrant and efficient working environment for your volunteers at your organization. The work they will do will not just create and support your employees, but also maximize the values and mission of your NGO.

To start off, make sure you provide professional and relevant task for your volunteers. Volunteers want to feel useful. They aren’t just looking to staple papers and get coffee. Instead, they are looking to connect with the work based off of their own particular interest and skills. To get the most out of your volunteers, make sure you know their personal and professional strengths. Knowing their skills will help generate maximum volunteer productivity. In addition, it will cultivate motivation and interest for any task that is assigned to them.

Now, one of the biggest mistakes you do not want to make with your volunteers is to misinterpret your own standards. Typical volunteers range between 16 to 23 and 35 to 64 years old. To put this in a more tangible perspective, these individuals lead very busy and active lives. When structuring your volunteering program, consider the timeframe and task needed for each individual. Create this understanding that there is a time and skill restraint for each person. Anything overly hectic can not only hinder their performance, but also impact their motivation to continue the work. Instead, provide your volunteers with task that you know they can accomplish without the help or assistance of your employees.

Last but not least, make sure you recognize these volunteers for their work. Like in any job, people like to be acknowledged for their contributions, especially when volunteering. Make sure you respond accordingly to their actions and appreciate them for all of their efforts. Who knows, they could be your next big donors in the future!

Strategy for Fundraising

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In today’s volatile economic environment, charities need to continuously reassess their abilities to generate future funds. Like it or not, change is inevitable. The ability to adapt to relevant strategies and introduce innovative successful tactics will be the game changer for whether or not your charity or cause is able to hit their financial goals.

So how do you do this? What strategy planning should be utilized to help enhance my fundraiser?

The first thing you need to understand is that you cannot become too reliant on government grants. As much as these grants can give you a head start in setting up the foundational aspect of your charity, it cannot be the only financial game plan in keeping your organization afloat. For you to expand, you need to venture into new tactics that go beyond the austerities of leads or former donors. Instead, you need to constantly internalize, reflect, and revamp your system so that it can keep up within the tough climate that is fundraising.

Begin by looking at your organization holistically. Strong, successful, and effective fundraisers are powerful in their own right because they are still able to both engage with their previous donors and reach out to new donors year after year. To keep that continuous momentum alive, you need to understand what the problem is. Ask your team the following questions: What is your cause? What are your goals? How will these donations aid with supporting your causes? What happens if you do not meet your financial goals? Why is your organization qualified to tackle this problem? By asking yourself these overarching questions, you will be able to externally focus on any weaknesses you are seeing within your campaign.

Once you have internalized the strengths and weaknesses of your foundation, now you can begin to analyze the necessary steps for a successful campaign. Start by reviewing the numbers. Look at the statistical metrics of how your donors and donations grew or fell within the past three years. Even go as far as to analyze it on a meticulously month-by-month basis. By analyzing this information this way, you will be able to see your charity as a business. In addition, the numbers themselves will give you a variety of different levels to structure an efficient and effective attack plan that can further benefit your cause within the next up and coming months.

When building your attack plan, make sure you continue your research by identifying the specific donors you plan on targeting. Yes, as you can see, research will be a constant role in developing your fundraising campaign to its fullest. For this particular research, you are now looking at the market instead of your campaign. This will allow you to find new and exciting sectors that are looking to support your organization to the fullest. Start off by researching your current donors and their businesses. Ask yourself why they are affiliated with your foundation and what groups they are associated with that you can connect with them. This internal system of connections will allow you to tap an untouched market that can be incredibly fruitful in the future. Once that is done, incorporate a strategy of how you will reach out to them. Will it be by email, word of mouth, or through an in person presentation? Whatever is the case, you want to make sure you are well prepared. That means tailoring your pitch and your presentation (PowerPoint) to that specific organization. The more centralized and specific your cause is to an organization, the better opportunity you have in gaining new donors.

After the restructure attack plan, go back to see how well it worked. If it was successful, great! Continue the strategy and the overall process again. If it wasn’t, reflect upon what was its weakness and what you and your team could have done to improve upon it. Remember, the only way to see this continuous success is by understanding your campaign’s flaws and adapting to any changes that can lead you to your future financial goals.