Sunday, August 26, 2012

Where Your Nonprofit Has Cut Costs Or Saved In Recent Years Is Just As Important to Share With Potential Donors & Volunteers As Is Your Programs' Successes

If any of the following cost cutting or savings practices are things your nonprofit has done, for a recent time period less than or up to the past five years, tell your nonprofit's supporters and potential supporters.  Toot your organization's horn in its volunteer and donation requests and in its newsletters and annual report (among other places especially like your nonprofit's website). People, today, have been cutting costs and saving more at home over the past five years - and so they now carry that value around with them everywhere, including when they are opening postal mail or e-mail from your organization.  So, be sure to tell the general public, when you reach out to them marketing your agency or requesting support, that your organization does and values saving and cost cutting, as well.

In the first part of your making a compelling case to potential supporters, show recipients of your materials, in clear succinct charts and diagrams or a bullet list, the real numbers.  Toot!  Toot!  If you don't, who will?  Make your organization's successes known to your nonprofit's community.

How?  In any and all fundraising and volunteer solicitations (except those which content is restricted such as some grant requests), public facing reports, reporting web pages, marketing materials, and public relations explain to or show potential new and current: donors, volunteers, community partners and the general public demonstrable numbers expressing:

___ ... generally where and what your nonprofit has cut in organizational spending and expenses and how much that has saved the organization.;

___ ... similarly, for all other savings, generally where and what your organization has saved money elsewhere in the organization's standard operations and expenses such as new or increased sharing costs with other other organizations, re-negotiating contracts such that costs have been lowered, working with new lesser expensive vendors, removing middlemen from previous expenses, etc.;

___ ... generally what savings has been increased and how that level of savings has been sustained, and what the new additional savings is (sum total) that has been retained (this can include a nonprofit's actual savings account, a new or increased endowment fund, a new asset owned outright, etc.);

___ ... if there are furloughs, firings or layoffs, job sharing, extended days off that the entire staff is out and the office is closed for say a vacation (i.e. perhaps the winter holiday break for your staff is now mandatory and a week long instead of none existing before), etc. that allow for normal operation of the organization (as before) but lessen the organization's daily operations expenses (i.e. overhead such as electricity, parking, water, garbage, Internet access, etc.) and what those savings are;

___ ... equitable cost sharing such as anything the paid staff or consultants have agreed to (without controversy) where perhaps staff have less days off than they did but improved health insurance benefits from before or consultants donating more time for their services than they used to, etc.;

___ ... and anywhere else where expenses have been reduced without negatively impacting the nonprofit's services, projects, and items it delivers to the community. 

In the final part of making a compelling case to the potential donor, etc., and to the point of my final bullet list item, above; it is very important that along with any of the above information, that is included in your organization's fundraising requests that you are certain to also include demonstrable data showing at least sustained or ideally, increased number of beneficiaries receiving support, information, item, or etc. from your organization in tandem with or despite decreased spending and increased savings.  Be clear and succinct in reporting both.

It is not enough to simply say 'donate to us because we're better with our money than we used to be', right?  A nonprofit that shows potential new and current supporters what it's saved or cut in costs while maintaining or more ideally, increasing its services provided to the community makes a compelling case to a potential donor.

An organization must have statistics based on factual data on what services have been provided in the current year and that must be tabulated.  This, in part, is why building evaluation methods into programs and services' designs is so important today. Usually evaluations are in part or wholly beneficiaries' feedback to your organization's services, such as anonymous participant surveys.  Once the service stats results are determined, sharing that data, coupled with what cost cutting and savings has been increased shows a potential donor, volunteer, or community partner several things about your nonprofit. It proves your organization's successful track record at delivering its mission, but too, it demonstrates your organization's potential for further success now and in the future.  Second, it demonstrates that your organization is managed and operated professionally and efficiently while remaining effective.  Finally, it shows potential partners (such as donors, volunteers, and community partners) that you will report to them (ideally, openly and honestly at regular intervals) and that your organization understands that part of developing but definitely retaining supporters is communicating with supporters.  These are what you're hoping recipients of your organization's solicitations think of your nonprofit after opening and reading them.  These arguments engender trust and confidence in your organization, and the recipient of the solicitation sees your organization as successful at both achieving its mission goals but too at efficiently operating the nonprofit.  If the recipient of your solicitation cares about your organization and its cause then why shouldn't they give?

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