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Archive for July, 2012

Social Media for Nonprofits: Understanding “Online Persona”

John Haydon, a thought leader in nonprofit social media, wrote recently about “Online Persona.” http://bit.ly/Rot7Ap. You can learn more about John on his website: http://www.johnhaydon.com. John has taken a useful Infographic produced by Blackbaud that organizes nonprofit social media audiences into four groups: Key Influencers, Engagers, Multichannel Consumers, and Standard Consumers. In setting social media strategy, it’s important for those responsible for communication to understand the audience(s) and to tailor outbound communication approach reaching the various personas out there. As nonprofits consider social media approach it’s important to know your audience.

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Re-thinking the Nonprofit Annual Appeal

I’ve written here occasionally over the past two years on steps a Nonprofit can take to spruce up or revitalize the Annual Appeal.

Here are a few of the activities I’ve recommended, but this time all in one spot for your convenience:

  • Follow up.  Four-to-six weeks after your initial Appeal, send a follow-up to selected segments of your list who didn’t respond first time around.  Take a theme from the initial Appeal, and do a short update on it.
  • Second Appeal.   Six months after your initial Appeal, go back to your donors with a new mission-related message, or a new story to tell that will get your supporters’ attention and motivate them to give again.
  • Stewardship.  Have a “thank you” plan and system in place that acknowledges gifts soon after they are received. Personalize the “thank you” to different degrees depending on amount of gift and the duration of relationship with the particular donor.
  • Communicate. Have a communication plan and system in place that keeps your donors informed on what’s happening at your Nonprofit that will be of interest. Consider a special, exclusive executive newsletter to donors with notes and observations from the CEO that give a insider perspective to what’s happening.
  • Always the Mission.  All communication always features the Nonprofit mission.

In my estimation, these steps should produce 10% or greater increase from your Annual Appeal.  Track it, and see what you get for results.

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Rules of the Road in Board Governance

Perhaps you checked out this link to a recent article in Chronicle of Philanthropy http://bit.ly/PAQLmj about the brouhaha at University of Virginia regarding board action to dismiss the University President.  As I understand it, the board chairperson acted out-of-line, and informally approached individual board members to get their vote of no confidence in the President.  Clearly, an act lacking in transparency. An act that got the whole campus in an uproar and out of kilter.

Members of nonprofit boards of directors should know the parameters that circumscribe their actions.  The concept of “governance” isn’t something carried out by the whim of a disgruntled board member.  If there are grounds for dismissal of the nonprofit President/CEO, there should be procedures set out on what constitutes grounds for dismissal, and how the dismissal process will work.

For everyone’s sake (meaning all stakeholders in that nonprofit, whatever its size or shape) there needs to be clarity on the rules of how the nonprofit will operate in certain challenging situations so all the players know there are standards and that those standards are being upheld by leadership.

Good governance encompasses a number of things that comprise “parameters” for the nonprofit.  These parameters include:

  • Bylaws of the nonprofit organization, which include duties and responsibilities of the board and the CEO
  • If the bylaws don’t encompass duties of the CEO, then the job description does
  • IRS requirements for nonprofit organizations that have tax-exempt status
  • State law that covers corporations, particularly nonprofit corporations
  • Understanding financial reporting as required by CPA standards that apply to all nonprofit corporations
  • The personnel policies and all other policies adopted by the board of directors

The nonprofit board of directors should conduct a review or update in training on these parameters each year, to remind all of the rules of the road that govern how a nonprofit will operate.  The duty of loyalty and the duty of care require that members stay up-to-date on the rules. When members take things for granted, mistakes happen that can undermine the effectiveness of the nonprofit in delivering its mission.

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Chronicle of Philanthropy on U of VA Board & a Lesson for Us

Chronicle of Philanthropy features an article about the attempt of a group of U of Virginia board members to remove the University President. The rump group obtained the President’s resignation, but created such a furor on campus that the board was forced to invite her back! A startling story, and a great lesson for governing boards of directors of nonprofits of all shapes and sizes.  When a few overzealous people try to sidestep the governance process, there is usually hell to pay.  http://bit.ly/PAQLmj.

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