Your Top Tips For Running A Successful Nonprofit

Matt Kupec Successful Nonprofit

Many people think that running a nonprofit organization is a breeze. All you have to do is find a way to get some money and donate it, right? Wrong. Fundraising is only one aspect of running a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits focus on finding ways to help the overall community, therefore running a nonprofit may be slightly different than running a for profit business. Running a nonprofit requires a lot of critical thinking skills, as well as the ability to deal with problems and sudden changes. Here are your top tips for running a nonprofit organization.

1. Hire People with Passion 

One of the most important aspects of running a nonprofit is teamwork. It is impossible to run an organization without people who can use their skills and abilities to contribute to the organization. It’s also important to look for people who are passionate about your organization. People that care will help make a difference in your organization which will effectively make a difference in your community.

2. Keep Records of Everything

Keeping record of all the incoming and outgoing financial flows is critical to nonprofit, especially when it comes to filing your taxes. Nonprofits have specific guidelines and exemptions when it comes to filing taxes, so it is critical to keep track of every penny spent or credited to your account. It’s important to have someone in charge of record keeping within your organization.

3. Organization Skills

A big part of running a nonprofit organization is actually staying organized. Nonprofits require a lot of planning and time-management, therefore it is essential to practice your organization skills. Planning is another aspect of running the organization therefore it is critical to know all the details of your organization. Reading books, such as 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can help you get started with organizing your thoughts so that you can apply those skills within your organization.

4. Define Your Goals and Objectives

Establishing and understanding your goals and objectives is critical for the success of your nonprofit. It’s a good idea to have weekly or monthly meetings with you team to see where you are in reaching those goals and objectives. Leadership skills are very important in initiate your organization to work towards the same goals and objectives as a team.

5. Establish Relationships

A large part of nonprofit success is dependent on networking. It’s important to establish relationships with the community and donors because funding and resources can be very scarce. Getting the word out about your organization and how it makes a difference will help establish meaningful relationships that can help make a difference in the future.

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.  

Allen Proctor – A Vision for Successful Nonprofits

Allen J. Proctor, founder and principal of Proctor’s Linking Mission to Money, has nearly 30 years of experience evaluating the financial health of organizations, developing effective business strategies, and enhancing organizational effectiveness. Proctor has regularly developed innovative solutions to the financial and performance challenges of nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations. Since establishing his company in 2001, Proctor has worked with clients to build a solid financial and strategic base for their future growth and presented workshops and seminars for audiences of all sizes.

Proctor has worked as a top executive at institutions as diverse as Harvard University (CFO and Vice President for Finance), New York City (Deputy Budget Director), New York State Financial Control Board (Executive Director), and Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Division Chief). Proctor earned his A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in economics and forecasting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

TedTalk: Passion is Not Enough

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Chris Grundner is the president and CEO of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement. Since his arrival in February 2012, he has enabled the organization to nearly double its membership and significantly expand its reach. Grundner, originally from Buffalo, NY, received his Bachelors in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Fredonia. He earned his MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. In 1999, Grundner moved to Wilmington to join the co-brand credit card division of First USA Bank as the Director of Business Development. Due to his significant achievements, Grundner became one of the organization’s youngest Senior Vice Presidents in early 2002. However, later that same year, his wife, Kelly, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of 29. Grundner left his job at JPMorgan Chase in 2004 after her passing and started The Kelly Heinz-Grundner Brain Tumor Foundation in 2005 with the goal of bringing national attention to the disease. Through the foundation, Grundner has launched two brain tumor awareness initiatives – GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME® and Tulips Against Tumors™ – both of which became national programs when the organization merged with the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) in March 2010.

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.

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.

Run your Nonprofit like a Startup

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Similar to startups, nonprofit organizations are use to doing more with less. Unlike the resources of private corporations, nonprofits are limited to the people they have and the funds they can play with. In many of these situations, these organizations are primarily responsible for the donors and communities that they service. While money does play a large role in the overall success of a campaign, it is imperative that nonprofit organizations take a page out of the startup playbook by being resourceful and effective in their infrastructure and spending in order to optimize the overall sustainability and outreach of their campaigns.

To begin, nonprofits and startups share a similar mentality; both entities need to be smart with their spending. While they may have a strong investments going into their campaigns, the overall development and growth of their mission require a lot of creative and strategic thinking, both operationally and financially. The best organizations and startup business that have been able to do are not necessarily the ones that spend the least or spend the most. Instead, they are the ones that are able to create an effective budget and making specific buying decisions that will lead them to reach their overarching goals.

So how do you do this? How can you effectively manage and operate your team or organization while saving and cutting cost on various expenses?

First and foremost, it is imperative that your business leaders within your organizations have a strong and holistic understanding of their finances. For startups, they need to adhere to their budget. While 2015 may be the year of the unicorn, it was also the fall for many great and innovative businesses that could have been the next Google or Apple. The reason why is because many of these companies did not take advantage (or cut cost) of their finances when they needed to grow and develop their companies. Similar to startups, nonprofit organizations need to understand the specific financial restrictions that can prevent them from hitting their targeted goals. This requires these organizations to understand and internalize their monthly expenses, their revenue, and their overall donations and donor numbers. By knowing these numbers quarterly, your organization will be able to leverage areas in which they can cut and save spending, while also investing in specific approaches that can help hit their quarterly goals.

One of the basic concepts your nonprofit organization needs to understand is that evaluating expenses is not cutting things from the budget. While a portion requires you to cut things, you are looking to find different avenues that can be more cost efficient while also adhering to the work and goals that your organization is trying to accomplish. Do not by any mistake think that low quality is a good thing. Find the best type of quality for the most reasonable price. In doing so, you will begin thinking more strategically with your financial budget.

Now, when it comes to cost, it is important that you find specific small expenses you can cut like irrelevant office supplies or overly expensive office spaces. Cutting these cost can help you utilize more funding in various departments that can assist you in reaching your donation goals. For example, for many startups, the overall popular trend for launching a company is no longer being seen in the big cities. Why? The exorbitant amount of cost for an office in Manhattan or a building in Silicon Valley is just not financially reasonable. Instead, many of these businesses are seeking cheaper office locations and effective spaces that allow for their business to grow and develop in the right way possible. Like startups, you need to find these areas where you can cut corners with your budget. Many nonprofit organizations are use to operating with that scarce mentality. But for a better infrastructure and longevity with success, try and think lean. Be cash-conscious and weigh any and all expenses against your nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission. This will force you to keep your budget in check and various buying decisions at a minimum.

Lastly, for any type of investment opportunities, make sure you weigh the cost. One of the biggest mistakes many startups make is burning any financial investments that should have been used in the future. Similar to startups, your nonprofit organization needs to be cash-conscious and seize any opportunity or investment that can help benefit their campaigns. For example, take a look into promotional campaigns that can help expand your mission and engage new and future donors to your organization. Remember, nonprofit organizations are still business. Invest in what can help reach your goals, but also weigh any negative consequences and ramifications that can come out of it.

Creating a Culture of Social Impact and Creative Innovation

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When it comes to the day-to-day operations of a social impact organization, various nonprofit organizations are held to the limited restrictions of their resources and societal awareness. To help establish a strong culture of social impact, social justice, and creative strategy, it is imperative that you leverage your own strengths and take it upon yourself, and your organization, to advocate for this type of change. Remember, you can give a person the facts about a situation. But to spark that much needed change, you will need to raise awareness and inspire the true leaders that can make a difference each and everyday.

Take the Fight Online

There is a fine line between ranting online and raising awareness publicly. When it comes to making an impact, creating a strong, rich, and consistent platform online through a blog, Twitter, or Facebook, can help reach and educate larger community about the ongoing problems of the world. We have already seen this with incredible nonprofit campaigns. But for you to be the true game changer, you need to utilize these platforms as your voice to the world.

Create Events

If you have the resources, try and set up various events that can showcase your nonprofit’s missions. Many nonprofit organizations do this with either family-friendly events or enriching active assembles. Whatever is the case, these events can help raise awareness to the overarching issues that are facing the world today.  

Attend or Create a Seminar Talk

We are all familiar with the trending TedTalks. Like those events, you can hold your own personal seminar at local colleges or meet up organizations that can highlight the various missions and goals of your nonprofit. For these events, make sure you are equipped with a strong yet appeal presentation. In addition, be prepared to answer any and all questions about what your organization can do in the future.

Recruit People of Similar Interest

Whether they are apart of your nonprofit organization or not, there will always be a strong group of people who are looking to make a change in the world. It would be to your best advantage to tap those resources and utilize those individuals as volunteers in spreading and marketing your mission to the general public.