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What Are Our Donors Telling Us?

We are in peak season for appeals from nonprofits to our donors. And many of our supporters are hearing from several nonprofits they follow and support. How do we attract attention of our donors when they are getting so many appeals from so many nonprofits?

Our Initial Appeal Message needs to be distinctive, and…appealing. The message inside needs to be unique and an attention grabber. The email transmittal or outer envelope if snail mail needs to get the donor’s attention.

We must listen. There may be a message or a phone call from some donors with a question or a comment about the appeal…or, about what we’re doing for our clients and how we’re doing it. We need to collect this feedback and every couple of weeks sit a few folks down to review these messages to us and hear what’s on donors’ minds. We need to pay attention.

It’s not just about what we’re communicating. It’s about what our donors are communicating back to us.

Hear it. Take it into account. Respond.

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Nonprofit Employment Practice: Do We Practice what we Preach?

At the NH Center for Nonprofits Summit in Manchester NH September 23, Ruth McCambridge challenged those present to bet beyond “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Many nonprofit leaders criticize fast food outlets and Walmart and other major national corporations for paying non-sustainable wages.
Nonprofits in home health care and other direct human services practice this same behavior. They pay subsistence wages to employees…wages that can’t cover food, housing, child care, health care….under the excuse that their mission is service to people in need. Not recognizing that they are creating a class of people who depend on State and local benefits to supplement their wages.
It’s time to pay the piper.

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Getting Strategic: Board and Staff Set the Course

Working with nonprofit clients to establish or update a Strategic Plan, the course should be set in a collaborative manner with staff working closely with Board on defining direction.
Once the Strategic Planning Committee has drafted Goals for the future (in three or five-year chunks) it’s time to craft a few objectives and strategies for accomplishing those objectives within each Goal.
Organizing working teams to craft the language including measurable outcomes (objectives) and person(s) responsible for achievement, a timeline should be included.
This work by small teams comes back to the committee for overall discussion and challenge…and language created to bring to the Board.
Ultimately, it’s the Board that approves the plan. But staff and volunteers need to feel the plan makes sense and is achievable.
In this way the organization develops a plan that has a good chance of being carried out. And not sitting on some proverbial shelf.

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Nonprofit Readiness: Preparation for the 2016 Annual Campaign

Time to get the plan organized for your 2016 annual campaign. Many nonprofits make their appeal to donors and prospective donors in November-December…the peak of the holiday season. This is the time of year when most funds are raised by nonprofits.
It’s a good idea to get ready for action now.
Review the donor list. Which donors will get a personal visit? Any changes from 2015?
Is the mailing list up-to-date? Do we have winter addresses for the snow-birds who head South in late fall? Are we ready to reach out to those supporters who won’t be at the customary address we have on file?
What has been our practice in thanking donors? Communicating with our donors? Any changes we want to make?
Getting this organized now will save time and get updates accomplished in a timely fashion.

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The Strategic Board

I am working now with a Housing Authority on a strategic plan. The most interesting part of this work is helping a group determine what needs to be done that isn’t getting done now, what stuff that is getting done needs to be stopped, and who are the customers and stakeholders to listen to to sort all this out.
I look forward to speaking at the Tri-State Housing conference in Meredith NH in September to explore how a group that’s relied for decades on federal $ can explore initiatives that will attract new money sources that can help get new stuff on the agenda. And deliver new service to folks who need it.
Complicated issues. Like sorting out elderly housing needs from housing for disabled from housing for the single parent household dealing with severe poverty.
Other than that, life is but a dream.

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