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Archive for October, 2012

Nonprofit Evolution to Sustainability

It takes time and patience to build the foundation that can persistently and consistently deliver the mission over time.
Which is why every month there are many nonprofit start-ups.
And why every month more nonprofits sink than swim.
It’s the way of the world. There are too many variables that have to come together that will result in Success.
Here are a few of those variables for your entertainment:
1. Board. It takes a strong, experienced and independent group of board members to help the nonprofit navigate the rough waters, particularly in the first years. Staff need smart and committed volunteers at the ready to advise on big decisions on policy and direction. We don’t want “Yes” men and women. But we do want Board members who will commit to decisions that the Board makes, even if you may not personally agree with it. Once the Board votes to Act, that’s it. You may not love it, but it’s the law of the land.

2. Strategic Direction. What will the main program of the nonprofit be? How will it be delivered? How will results be measured? These are big, important decisions at the outset that might need a tweak or two as the nonprofit moves forward. These decisions need to be well thought out. There might be a bit of trial-and-error involved. Listening to the customer will help get it right sooner rather than later. Early in the game, be patient.

3. Communication. Which starts with a lot of listening. Most nonprofits make the mistake starting in broadcast mode. Not necessarily the right move. Seek lots of advice. Listen to community leaders. Identify stakeholders in the mission. Hear them out. Let the information you gather by your guide.

4. Fundraising. If we’re going to raise healthy crops, we’ve got to tend the fields. And put down ample manure. So we have to raise money so we can get our job done. And this will require all hands to pitch in. And attention to Relationship Building which is the Development side of Fundraising.

Paying attention to these strategic areas of nonprofit development can help get the organization off in the right direction. It all sounds pretty simple. And actually, it is. But when you get a bunch of folks in a room, you can count on getting it pretty complexifying pretty quick. You can look it up. I can guarantee it.

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People to Watch: Pam Moore

There’s a special cluster of folk I pay particular attention to among the 2,500 I follow on Twitter. One of the thought leaders in Social Media is Pam Moore. You can find her @PamMktgNut on Twitter, and on her website http://www.pammarketingnut.com. Most recently, (October 22, 2012) she delivered “Social Return on Relationships: 13 Tips to Ignite Relevant Value.” Pam delivers value on her tweets, on her tweet-ups, on her blog. She’s down-to-earth and shares stuff you can understand and use easily. She’s among the top ten folks I’m touting to my friends in the nonprofit sector.

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Ready for Major Gift Launch?

When a nonprofit organization has been in business for a year or ten, has a thriving annual campaign, a board of directors who donate and help raise money, and see a big strategic need in need of some big strategic dollars, it may be time for a Major Gift Campaign.
But are we really ready?
First and foremost, we need to know how much we need to raise and what it’s for.
Second, we need to assess if we have the capacity to raise the necessary funds.
Do we need to conduct a feasibility study?
Do we need outside counsel to manage the study, and then another consultant to manage the campaign?
These are big questions.
If the nonprofit is strategically focused and has been through a challenging, provocative process, maybe it’s ready.
Maybe. And that’s a big “Maybe.”
But you don’t know the answer ’til you start asking the questions and looking for objective answers.

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Talking With Donors About Planned Gifts

Wills and Trusts (Planned Gifts) can be significant sources of revenue for your nonprofit organizations. It all starts with the right approach with your donors. How do you broach the subject: “Please remember us in your will.”
One place to start is in your newsletter. I recommend that you have a short paragraph or two in an easy-to-find place that lets your supporters know they can approach a designated person on your team who can advise them on how to go about identifying your nonprofit as a beneficiary in their will or trust.
Who is the right person associated with your nonprofit to provide this service?
If you have a qualified, full-service development director who has experience in this area you are all set.
But not all nonprofits are so blessed.
My suggestion is that your nominating committee recruit an estate planner to become a member of your board. And if not a board member, then perhaps a member of your development committee. This is a person who will talk with your donors on a pro bono basis, advising them on language they should ask their attorney to insert in their will or trust.
Further, you might have the name of three to five attorneys at local law firms who are qualified estate planners who will welcome referrals if a donor contacts your office seeing an attorney to help them write a will. I strongly advise that no one associated with your nonprofit prepare the document for your donor. This is (in my view) a conflict of interest.
I also recommend that you take a look at my post of January 23, 2012 “Simple Plan to Start a Planned Giving Program” for more tips on getting this revenue stream going for your organization.

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