Sunday, October 18, 2009

We Nonprofits Must Rise to The Economic Occasion

As nonprofit organizations, we are always struggling for resources, excellence, successes, and to grow. It's a great burden on a nonprofit organization at any time, to move forward and grow, but in this kind of economy it is especially difficult.

Nonprofits can do the following:

__ Determine current unmet organizational staffing needs and upcoming organizational staffing needs and then create job descriptions for those positions - and begin to actively recruit volunteers for some of these positions, still looking for only the most accomplished, successful, and talented people. After successfully acquiring any talent for your agency, proactively retain them with excellent human resource management, a good work environment, etc.

__ Cut costs, increase fundraising, and save more. For example, does your organization's board contribute annual amounts? This could be a new additional annual fundraising mechanism! To know more read What Are Leadership Donations?

__ Reduce numbers of days that the office is open, set up a new sliding fee scale for services that your organization provides and ask those who can to contribute a fee, increase value for dollar spent (e.g. be sure that each donor who gives $20 or more this year understands exactly what their dollar will do in the community, etc. Fore more read Save Your Nonprofit Money...

Most of us nonprofits have already implemented the above or some variations of these survival steps. The real question becomes, ultimately, 'can our nonprofit raise more?'

There seems to be a common set of misconceptions that nonprofits use as 'outs':

__ 'our community is already donating as much as it can', or 'this market (speaking of a local geographic region) is already tapped out';

__ 'we don't have the people, resources, or skills to successfully raise enough to survive this economy';

or

__ 'we've done everything that we can, so it's time to close shop'

If your nonprofit is clearly defining for community members (potential donors) what your organization does, that it is unique in providing this for the community, that it meets a current and as yet unmet need, and does all of this successfully while operating in an ethical and transparent manner: then your agency won't have such a difficult time raising new money. All nonprofits must make their names, achievements, services, and reason for providing them known to the communities that they are raising funds in - otherwise the potential to raise money (even new money) is only limited to those people who already know about the organization. These people who've already bought in may indeed be giving everything that they're going to for the year, already - so your agency must be bringing in and retaining new donors. For more on this read The Nonprofit That...

If a donor wishes to support your nonprofit it is not at the expense of another nearby nonprofit, doing other work, necessarily. Donors who wish to support nonprofits support the causes and issues that are dear to them. They do not tell themselves 'well, I care about these multiple number of causes but I will only give to one of them' if they've budgeted for the year choosing to give what they can. Help your donors to plan. Inform them and make it clear what your nonprofit does, that no other does, and that their money will reach the community and what it will do. That's what any donor wishes to do successfully through the organizations that they contribute to. For more read How To Raise Money Better In Your Region

If you do not have the skills or if a board member or two do not have the time or willingness to contribute: move them or yourself out of the way. The importance of any nonprofit is its mission statement and its ability to successfully provide the services or products of that mission statement. You or any other person can take the time to learn, implement new policies or campaigns, and contribute in a new direction on behalf of the mission - but if someone is unwilling to change the old routine, won't expand their knowledge or expertise, or won't contribute during a difficult time then they are standing in the way of the nonprofit's success and its ability to deliver its mission to the communities it serves - and this is wrong. Get those who are stalwart and hopeless out of the community's way of getting the benefits of the nonprofits. Keep in mind - just because you can't do what may be needed to be done for the organization to survive this economy doesn't mean that you can't learn it or get someone else into the agency, in your position, who can. Don't make keeping the nonprofit open or closing it in this recession about you or anyone else.

Like all decisions, any decision made for the nonprofit is (by law) supposed to be made in the best interest of the nonprofit and the entities it serves.

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