No nonprofit is an island. We achieve success in our Mission by employing networks. We connect people who together can add more value than they can individually, all by their lonesome.
So finding intelligent ways to connect to put our Mission to work in our community should be one of the primary jobs of a nonprofit executive and those who work under her/his leadership.
One good way to get this done is through Rotary. I recommend that nonprofit executives join their local Rotary Clubs. Or, other community connecting organizations like the Lions.
Joining the Chamber of Commerce is a peachy idea, too.
Places where connections happen. Where the executive can learn what’s cooking in the community and demonstrate the value of their nonprofit.
Right now, the Rotary Club of Peabody (Massachusetts) is preparing for our Taste of the North Shore. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we’ve been going strong for ten years. Raising upwards of $15K to then bestow on community charities to do their good work. As well as support Rotary International Foundation to do work on a worldwide scope. Like fighting Polio.
Connecting is a fundamental for delivering good work.
Find your best way to accomplish it and your Mission will go further than it would otherwise.
Last summer, I happened to find (out of nowhere) the Origami in the Park event sponsored by the Backstoppers of St Louis: An organization whose mission is to raise funds for police and fire personnel injured in the line of duty. I thought that was an inventive activity…come to the park, volunteers will make Origami birds to decorate the park and donors can sponsor their creation and raise money for a good cause.
Next weekend Backstoppers will have their Mardi Gras event (March 1) to fundraise for their cause.
If you’re in the area, check it out.http://www.backstoppers.org/Point%20Mardi%20Gras.pdf.
Tuesday night (February 11) in my Northeastern University fundraising class, students presented their Donor Acquisition project to our “client” nonprofit. Our client is a living, breathing charitable organization based in the Greater Boston area. The student team was helping the Development Director think about raising money for a new program.
Usually when we work with nonprofits we’re thinking about the overall organization. We tend to shy away from projects where we raise money for just one aspect of the work. Because these funds become in a sense, “restricted.” These funds are for a single purpose.
We spent part our our time together Tuesday thinking through how to introduce this to the Board.
How can we build some enthusiasm for this new effort…recognizing that we run the risk of drawing attention away from the “old standbys.”
We recommended a specially designed presentation at the meeting that will put a spark in what otherwise might feel like a “business as usual” Board meeting. Maybe a musical skit. Maybe a party with special desserts, balloons, and all the stuff. Something. Out of the ordinary.
Nonprofit leaders should consider taking a special, unusual, even extraordinary approach when trying to get the Board’s attention on something important.
So think about escaping the “same-old, same-old” at your meeting when you have something new up your sleeve.
Next step in our Development progression for our Nonprofit Organization is to prepare to Ask for the Gift.
We’ve focused on the importance of Strategic Thinking for the Board. And application of this approach to the Fundraising direction our Nonprofit will take. Now we’ll jump to asking for the gift.
This post comes in January, the month after most nonprofits have conducted their Annual Appeal. So our donor base has heard from us, and many have responded with their annual gift. and if we’re well organized, we’re preparing a follow up appeal to non-responders, asking them to consider us now. And just maybe you donors who missed you in the fall will reconsider now and make that gift to help you achieve your Mission. We won’t know unless we ask.
There should be a next step in place…beyond the Stewardship part of thanking our donors who make their gifts.
And that next step might be a mid-year appeal to come in May-June. Or, it might be a special project that we’d like our supporters to consider. And this time, we want to expand the group who get a personal visit as part of this ask. And we want Board members and other volunteers to make these calls…these personal visits…to obtain support.
Board members according to Kay Sprinkel Grace, fall into one of three categories. All are Ambassadors who think to speak up about this Nonprofit when they’re out with friends, at work, or at Rotary. Some are Advocates who are comfortable speaking at public hearings, presenting about the Mission at Foundation meetings, testifying on regulation proposals that impact our primary customers before governmental agencies. And then there are Askers: Those who feel good about giving, and feel good about asking others to give. These are the leaders who see the value this Nonprofit delivers an welcome the opportunity to seek support. Face to face. Not all Board members feel this way; but each year leaders work to increase the group who feel good about being Askers.
So this is the time to prepare for what’s ahead in the coming months. It may be the annual mid-year appeal. It may be a special campaign for a special purpose. Whatever the purpose, we’re preparing now for that process to get underway. And that’s the crux of this phase of Strategic Thinking.
We want our Nonprofit Boards of Directors to be thinking strategically. The work of the board needs to be in the area of direction-setting for the Nonprofit. Operations are the staff’s business. Strategy is the Board’s.
Of course, we want the strategies to be sound. To fit with the mission. To make sense within the context of the Nonprofit Strategic Plan.
Some of this thinking (and doing) is in the realm of Fundraising. And kicking that thinking up a notch to the level of Development. Development assumes there’s some relationship building going on; that it’s not just about asking for money. What’s the driving purpose behind the ask? Somewhere in there needs to be the Nonprofit Mission.
So when we are seeking gifts for the Annual Fund (and most nonprofits have done that business this past November – December) we’re letting our donors know what we’ve been delivering, and further what needs to be delivered in the coming months. And years.
Doing this smartly depends on strategic thinking. Beyond today. And always in terms of the folks the Nonprofit is serving. So when we’re going for Money for the Mission, it’s all about the people we serve. The Nonprofit itself is a tool to the end we’re seeking.
When our donors see we get that and we communicate that sense of purpose, they will dig a little deeper.
So the Nonprofit Board is thinking and acting Strategically. I don’t know how else the work gets done.