Three Performance Mistakes to Avoid within the Nonprofit Sector

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Tracking metrics is about making the seemingly intangible tangible and getting better results. No matter what nonprofit you are working for, there will always be room for improvement within the operations of even the most establish organizations. But as much as we want to continue our growth and impact on the world, it is imperative that we avoid some of the most overarching mistakes that can derail a nonprofit organization.

Below, I have highlighted three of the biggest performance mistakes that can overwhelm and falter your mission in an unproductive way. By identifying these areas, you will be able to improve the logistics and operations of your organization and move forward. Let’s face it, most nonprofit organizations generate a ton of donor data. The most challenging part of it is to analyze it in the most efficient and effective way in order for you and your team to improve upon it year after year.

Over Analyzing and Measuring the Data

Far too often, many organizations and businesses have utilized data as their tactical tool in improving the day-to-day operations to help reach their intended goal. While data does play a necessary part within our lives, collecting, aggregating, and analyzing this information again and again can oftentimes overwhelm your staff and eventually compromise the productivity of change. At a glance, data provides any organization with a holistic view on the performance of a company and of an individual. As much as we can focus specifically on the presented data, we want to make sure that information is utilized in the best possible way. For some people, they may just look at this information as a large amount of meaningless numbers. That right there is a huge red flag. To make sure that your staff understands the data, make sure you provide meaning on what this data stands for. In addition, make sure the data is presented in a way that can be easily translated into goal-oriented objectives. That type of streamline communication of numbers to professional development and goals is something that will help improve analyzing the overall strengths and weaknesses of a group than just having the numbers as a whole. Remember, the more meaningful these numbers are to you, the more important they will be to the rest of the group.

Underutilizing your Data

As stated above, your data can provide a holistic view of where you are in reaching your intended goals. For many organizations, the data can be so much that the information can, in itself, seem useless. In the grand scheme of things, you want to make sure you are utilizing all of the information possible. Similar to measuring the data section above, you want to make sure you are able to break the information down in more meaningful sessions. This will allow you to infuse new energy to unknown numbers and create meaningful tactics in how to best improve the operations within the day.

Do Not Over Think the Data

One of the biggest problems you can do for your employees is to overthink the data. Whether you are trying to create a system or over establishing goals, you want to make sure the data in itself can be tangible and realistic for your staff. That being said, the approach in tracking and analyzing the information needs to be done in a meaningful way. Various steps need to outline the importance of your goals and your individual goals for your staff while also translating that information in how they can impact and improve their own personal performance. If there is no intended meaning for the data, this can lead to uncertainty about the numbers. If the numbers however represent a multitude of concepts, this can lead to overthinking the meaning behind the information. To prevent this, make sure there is some type of clear and precise understanding behind the numbers and the following steps it can do in the future.

The Four ‘Knows’ Before Fundraising

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There is no perfect formula for fundraising. But like any business, it is absolutely vital that you and your colleagues are well prepped in the logistical information in order for you to reach your big goal. For many people that goal can be a couple hundred dollars. For others that goal is a couple million, maybe even billion, dollars. Regardless of the goal, the determination to succeed all comes down to the prep work.

Below, you will find four things a person must know before they start fundraising. While you make tackle this in your own way, following these lessons can give you that leg up you need in raising money for your organization.

Know the Product

There are many passionate and personable presenters out there. But regardless of who they are, if you do not know your product, you will not get that support or for this situation, that donation. In other words, it helps to know and communicate your product or mission in a clear concise manner. Many people call this the elevator pitch. To an extent, this is just the introduction. When you talk about your product (or your organization), it is imperative that you know the founders, the background history, how the company or product came to be, why it came to be, and of course future goals. Having this as an introduction to your pitch shows that you are not only informative about your organization, but also passionate about its mission. In addition, the best way to grab someone’s attention is to answer all of his or her unanswered questions. Make sure you are to deliver that level of knowledge before you ask for their donation.

Know Your Market

When setting up various venues, meet-and-greets, or phone conversations, it is important to have an understanding of the overall market. Similar to knowing your own product, make sure you know and understand the people you are talking to. Knowing your market, or audience, has a strong advantage in how you approach each pitch and each donation. This fundamental practice gives you enough insight in how to integrate your cause for your organization. It also gives you a complete understanding on the donation you are looking to receive. For fundraising, we often find two types of investors. The first are the ‘impact investors,’ individuals who are invested in the organization’s or venture’s mission and business model. These investors measure the success of their investment and look to see the overall organization as a whole thrive. The second type of investor is what we call a ‘financial investor,’ an individual looking to partner with your business or organization to increase his or her own ROI. This type of investor is usually found with entrepreneurs or businesses rather than nonprofit organizations.

3. Know Your Numbers

This is probably the breaking point in landing a big investor or donor. Having a strong knowledge of the overall numbers for your organization can strongly affect and persuade a person in giving you money. This applies to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Just like knowing your product, you need to really understand the numbers of the organization, the industry, the market, the customers, the products, and the overall operations. Taking that into play, knowing how to handle donors money and where it can be optimized and leveraged to its fullest can ease every investor in why they need to donate. This type of easy-yet-knowledgeable communication is something people want to hear and what to see. At the end of the day, these donors want to know that they are having an impact. So show them through the numbers.

4. Know Your Pitch

Mark Twain once said that, “twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do.” Whether you realize it or not, the minute you speak about your organization, you become the face of your product and your cause. Spend time crafting your emails and changing your overall online presence. In addition, make sure you practice your pitch. At times this can be tedious, and frankly time consuming, but at the end of the day the amount of work is worth it. You want to be able to get to a point in which you can adapt and leverage your speech in specific ways for your audience. The key here is to not simply memorize your speech, but to internalize it in a more optimal way.