Monday, June 01, 2009

June Is Half Way Through the Year - Take Stock, Nononprofits

Welcome to June! We are in the beginning of the midway month of 2009 and also the start of the third quarter of the year (perhaps your organization's fiscal calendar is the same as the annual calendar). Despite this economy, we're here, in the middle.

It's an excellent time to take stock and take advantage of being able to reflect. At this half-way point you can look over your organizations service (or work) statistics, look over your organization's financials and I know that you've been keeping a keen eye on revenue but also planning out the remaining fundraising for this fiscal year based on the trending you are seeing in the region(s) that your organization raises money in. In this unique economy, having even just six months of really recent trends specific to your organization is really valuable. Take advantage of the metrics on your own organization, that you have at your fingertips.

Also, are organizations raising about the same, a little less, a lot less, and are the communities that you raise money from trending to emergency fundraising campaigning, in the area, or a bit to brand new 'recovery' fundraisers implemented this year to make up for losses in the year's fundraising? If yes - it's good to hear it. If no, perhaps that is beginning to slowly improve, as the economy seems to be?

Six months into the year is also a good time to take stock of the future. Is the organization's current board well-rounded: a good strategic semblance of different but very helpful professions, talent, and experience sitting at the table? No matter whether the organization is a start up, newish and small, or a long established one, well run and necessary nonprofits offer potential board members a terrific opportunity to serve their community. Also, are the regular volunteers or if you have it, staff, doing well and motivated? Are people generally happy? Have you taken a 'reading' and checked? If not, work on increasing in-house peoples' fulfillment, connection with the work of the mission and its goal, their own personal goals for working there, and train or even educate them, if need be. Help them help the organization. How is your organization's messaging coming across in the communities it serves, this year? Have you or other leaders discussed some dire likelihood of closure in the press, earlier this year, only to find that your organization is making it O.K., now? If so, get back to the press, sooner than later, and make sure that the community knows, now, that things are working out and the future of the organization looks O.K. Have you not taken a proactive position in marketing your organization? If not, what do people know of your organization, its work, and its achievements, if anything? If the answer is "I don't know" or "not much" then you have a bit of work to do, here. All organizations always have marketing and public relations work they could be doing - this never ends.

How recently have you checked in with the beneficiary population, that your organization does the work it does to help? In a changed and slowed economy nothing is really as it has been for a long time. Change to the economy effects everyone and everything. For that reason, in this year in particular, you want to really keep up on really recent studies (or even white paper) findings pertaining to your organization's professional field. Anything that can help your organization's leaders decide what new programming will best assist the beneficiaries, now, and in the short term will keep your organization, not only relevant, but it will also keep that people, animals, environment, etc. (whatever or whomever your organization serves) assisted despite this economy.

Has your agency stepped up recruiting new volunteers, while retaining established volunteers? If not, volunteers are necessary and invaluable in an economy like this one. They produce volumes of quality work (if you recruit well and train people, and keep them happy) without costing the organization any kind of overhead. If trending in either your organization's volunteer retention or recruitment, or both, is down - you will want to focus on this and fix theses issues before it's a sever impediment to the agency.

How are you doing? I know you are probably not wringing your hands quite as often as you did months ago - but you're still wringing them, occasionally. But, are you losing sleep over concerns, still? Are you able to focus at work or are you distracted by concerns? If you are having a difficult time handling the pressures of the unusual economy, and it's utterly understandable if you are - take care of yourself. Talk to a good friend outside of the organization and decompress. Take a camping trip this weekend. Try anything that is safe, healthy, and sounds fun or relaxing and go do it and do it as regularly as you can. Making sure that the organization's staff, volunteers, leaders, and all are doing O.K. and taking care of themselves reflects in the organization's quality of work and the image it gives to the community.

We are half way through a really difficult year. Taking stock is always good to do regularly, at set intervals, overseeing all aspects of the nonprofit's operations and work. In this economy - it's dire.

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