Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Your Team is the Best Resource You Have


Whether your nonprofit is staffed solely by volunteers, or positions at least partially paid, your people are your organisation’s most valuable asset. Your staff is the creative engine for identifying problems and finding new solutions to hard questions as well as accomplishing all of the hard work that benefits your service community. Without them, it’s impossible to create meaningful impact.

Despite their importance to achieving your goals, many nonprofit’s neglect their staff’s needs, and the results show up as a loss of worker productivity, donor engagement and your beneficiaries’ satisfaction.

To keep your staff on task and fully engaged, you must look after them, and find ways to increase the enjoyment that they experience working with your organisation. The following strategies can boost your team’s morale and keep them motivated to help your NFP meet its objectives and goals.

Spruce up the Workspace

The environment that we work in can have a direct, immediate impact on our energy levels, mood and sense of well-being. Give your team a boost by investing in quality lighting, including natural sources of light, and ensuring that they have the tools, material and equipment that they need to perform their work well.

This means investing in quality, ergonomically designed desks, chairs, computers and other hardware for office workers, and providing laptops and other mobile devices for workers that telecommute or otherwise work off-site. Invest in current software and other upgrades to ensure that your best people don’t become frustrated by hanging apps and lost data that sap willpower and decrease productivity.

Do Something Different, Exciting, and Fun as a Team

Team building exercises are great for increasing comradery and morale and helping your people learn how to cooperate and collaborate with one another. You could do something simple, such as hosting an office party or have a potluck at work, where everyone contributes a dish to a group meal, but why not make this event something to truly remember by hosting an offsite event.

If you have the budget, schedule your staff to take a joint field trip to a local amusement park, enjoy a picnic together on the beach. Whatever activity you choose, take steps to ensure that it is something that most of your staff will enjoy.

Perks and Rewards Have Their Place

While they should never take the place of just compensation that is due to your staff, partnering with third parties to offer meaningful rewards for exceptional service and dedication can help you show your staff that you do truly appreciate their effort and hard work.

To make sure that your rewards program is hitting the mark, conduct a survey to find out what types of rewards most appeal, and then work on incorporating as many of these ideas as possible into your program.

Be Flexible with Time Commitments

Another way to show your team that you understand their needs and value them for the unique people that they are is to offer schedules and time commitments that take into consideration real-world needs. Look for ways to allow team members to trade shifts and tasks to help them be able to meet their commitments to your nonprofit and their personal lives. Try to allow as many of your staff as possible to work remotely and offer multiple shifts and ranges of time for your people to have as many opportunities to work helping out at your NFP into their other obligations.

Provide Praise and Public Recognition

Everyone likes to have their hard work acknowledged and an appropriate level of gratitude expressed for their effort. Use your social media channels to give shout-outs to your team, host awards ceremonies, and otherwise publish notifications of your staff’s dedication to your organisation. In addition to these larger, more public efforts, never neglect an opportunity to “catch” your people doing something right and offer them praise on the spot.

Whether it’s a firm handshake and a heartfelt thank you spoken out loud or sending thanks in an email on a daily basis, let your team know how much their work means to you and your nonprofit! The more you can express your gratitude to your people, the more likely they will be thankful for the opportunities that your organisation offers them to help your service community!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

How Volunteering Can Help Your Career


Many individuals consider volunteering because they want to give something back to their communities. They sometimes hold back and resist taking the plunge because they worry they won’t have the time and energy to commit to volunteering and working in a paid position as well. When it comes to filling the post of volunteer treasurer, many of the duties that need to be performed can seem so overwhelming that it makes folks reluctant to take on the role.

If you have a good bookkeeping software to help back you and your processes up, so that its quick and easy to keep your accounts updated, serving as a volunteer treasurer offers several benefits that far outweigh any concerns that might be holding you back from volunteering.

This is especially true if you want to move up in the current organisation where you work, or enter a new field completely as volunteering at a nonprofit offers the following benefits for your career prospects.

Improve Your Job Performance by Improving Your Health

Many nonprofit volunteers report that the work that they do to help others improves their self-esteem, personal satisfaction and confidence. They also report feeling calmer, less stressed and more at ease. This boost to your mental health makes you more resistant to the effects of stress and can boost overall immunity.

When our minds and bodies are healthy, and our immunity and mood are high, it’s easier for us to resist common colds and other bugs as they make the rounds in the workplace. This provides an indirect benefit to our careers since being healthy and resistant to stress reduces absenteeism and makes it easier to achieve peak performance so that we get noticed and promoted at work!

Increase Your Flexibility

Volunteering can be a great way to practice your existing skills, as well as pick up new ones if the volunteer work that you perform involves tasks and duties outside of your previous background. This makes volunteering the ideal way to keep your existing skills current as well as pick up new ones.

Prospective employers that see your volunteer work on your resume, and become aware of all of the tasks and duties that you fulfilled in your role are more likely to see you as the flexible and motivated employee that they need. It can also increase your chances of promotion and other forms of advancement.

Meet New People

As a volunteer, it’s likely that you will have the opportunity to meet and talk with people you would never have otherwise. Not only will you work with other volunteers, but you’ll also probably meet some of the beneficiaries of your nonprofit’s services. You may also come into close contact with donors, staff, board members, other volunteers and advocates.

Each time that you meet and interact with someone new, you are being given an opportunity to connect with people from diverse backgrounds who share your interests and values. When it comes time to find a new position, your new connections may well be the ones that help you locate your next paying position!

Spur Your Creativity, Cooperation and Critical Thinking Abilities

Most volunteers wear many hats in their organisations. Working with different groups of people, completing tasks and searching for solutions on the fly are all activities that you will likely perform as a volunteer. Activities like these boost your creativity, as well as improve your ability to cooperate and collaborate on shared projects and improve your ability to analyse information and reach logical, well thought out conclusions.

So, what’s so great about improving your ability to create, get along with others and make good decisions? These characteristics just happen to be some of the top traits shared by the world’s most successful leaders. Serving as treasurer or other volunteer gives you a chance to polish your leadership and gives you a head start on how to lead yourself and your team to greater levels of success!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

How to Improve the Success of Your Digital Team



Is your digital team achieving the results that you want, especially in terms of engagement and growth? If not, your NFP certainly isn’t alone. According to the results of a study conducted by SSIR, around 40% of nonprofits report that the way that their digital teams are structured causes problems or simply doesn’t work to achieve the results that they want and need to thrive and grow.

The same study found that many NFPs have teams that lack diversity, and, that fail to encourage greater donor engagement with their nonprofits. If you want to improve the results of your digital messaging, your organisation must become more inclusive, and representative of the populations that you are trying to reach. Your messaging must also forge genuine relationships with donors to increase engagement.

The following tips can help your NFP improve the effectiveness of your digital team.

Become More Inclusive and Digital Friendly

Increasing the diversity of your digital team begins with increasing the diversity of your leaders, and your organisation overall. Take steps to review your recruitment and training processes to look for ways that your organisation has unconscious bias or institutional barriers that discourage immigrants, those in the LGBQT community, or other minorities from joining your nonprofit.

Develop onboarding processes that help those that are new to your organisation to understand their role and your NFP’s culture. Create mentorship programs that identify, support and develop leadership candidates that are well-versed in the use of technology and the role digital plays in achieving your mission.

Break Down Silos and Unleash Your Digital Team!

Don’t confine your digital team to the bubble of a single department, such as communications. Wherever possible, encourage greater collaboration with your digital team and other departments within your organisation.  

Have digital report directly to the executive director as the head of any other department would do and involve them in the decision-making process, especially when it comes to the design and implementation of your messaging and fundraising campaigns.

Focus on Engagement

Engagement is a hot topic in nonprofits today, yet, as the above study shows, 43% of NFPs don’t have anyone dedicated to donor engagement, and 75% fail to track metrics that measure and evaluate engagement.

If you want to improve your fundraising results, then your nonprofit must invest in harnessing digital’s power to facilitate relationship building, increasing communication with donors and encouraging greater involvement.

Don’t stop at a petition or donation request. Create regular events for your donors to deepen their connection with your organisation by taking direct action in the real, physical world on a regular basis that advances your mission.

Make sure your budget is realistic, and that it provides the level of funding that is needed to genuinely strengthen your digital teams and empower them to set and achieve ambitious targets!  

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Keys To The Success Of Your NFP


Creating a successful nonprofit takes more than the desire to lead positive change in your community. In addition to making a genuine impact, your organisation must be able to survive over the long term and grow at a sustainable level.

The following strategies can help you lay a strong foundation upon which to build and grow a focused, and resilient, organisation that moves its mission forward.

Clearly Define Your Purpose

It’s so much easier for organisations to make real progress when everyone shares the same values and focuses on the same goals. Nonprofit leaders should set the tone and pace of their organisation by clearly defining the reason why the NFP exists in their statement of purpose and include a list of activities that they will and will not pursue in the organisation’s formal bylaws.

Recruit and Retain Top Talent

Every organisation is only as strong as its weakest link. The people on your team are your most important asset, which means that whether you're searching for a director, support staff, or volunteers for your NFP, you need to take steps to ensure that you can attract and keep knowledgeable, skilled and gifted candidates for both paid, and unpaid, positions.

To help in your search for the best candidates, create a written description for every position within your NFP, whether it’s paid or unpaid. Not only will this help you to have a firmer grasp of the traits and qualities you need, clarifying roles, duties and responsibilities, it helps all parties get started on a better footing. Make sure that you conduct interviews, as well as background checks on all potential candidates before they begin work.

Activities like training, career guidance, peer-mentoring and job shadowing can help you ensure that each person that you bring on board will have the tools that they need to make a positive contribution to your team. Establish formal policies and protocols to increase open communication and quickly resolve any conflicts that arise to boost morale and workplace satisfaction.

Set Goals with Realistic Expectations

Creating goals that do not have a specific target, start and stop date, and are not easily measured, are usually unobtainable at the start. Whether it’s increasing the results of your fundraising efforts or the number and quality of services that you provide your beneficiaries, make sure that you are setting specific goals, with results that can be measured. This will make it easier to hit your target.

Keep All Your Stakeholders Updated and in the Loop

Do your volunteers know how important they are to achieving your goals? Do you show gratitude and fill them in on the results of their efforts? What about your donors? Do they know what’s truly at stake and understand how even very small, but consistent donations, can add up over time and help you achieve greater results? Do your service beneficiaries understand what you can do to help make their lives better?

Provide all stakeholders with frequent updates on the status of your projects and drives, and their results. Look for ways to get the word out about everyone’s hard work and other contributions across multiple media channels. Explain results in human “real world” terms to increase your stakeholder’s emotional connection to your organisation. And last, but certainly not least, never neglect an opportunity to express your gratitude for everyone’s contributions to your cause.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Admin Bandit – Making it Easy for Volunteer Treasurers


Many volunteer treasurers long for an easier way to keep up with all of their bookkeeping and reporting requirements, but dread the thought of installing a new software system, and learning how to use it. While any time of year is a great time to consider trying Admin Bandit’s bookkeeping suite, the end of year is an especially great time to give it a try.

Save Time at the End of the Year

Since its fully automated, it can help treasurers reclaim some of their valuable time. The holidays are full of frenzied, last minute activities, so anything that can help you save time is especially beneficial.

Fast and Easy Set Up

What does it take to get started using it? About two minutes. All you need to enter is your NPF’s banking information, unpaid invoices and member details. Once this data has been entered, log back in and you’re ready to go!

Increase Accuracy and Remain in Compliance

Important tasks, such as recording transactions and reconciling statements, are basically done for users using the software’s automated processes. The software also calculates GST and other payments automatically as well, and prompts users about when they need to file reports, and when they are required to be lodged. These features improve the accuracy of your records and helps your NFP to remain in compliance with various reporting rules and regulations.

Protect Your Financial Information and Other Data

Since everything is stored online, in the cloud, you no longer must worry about losing your information to the results of a disaster, such as a flood or fire. It also makes your data more secure and reduces the risk of loss due to physical theft or corruption of your data.

Automatic Updates

Users also never have to worry about their software going out of date, since its automatically updated any time there is a change in the programming. Just login online to ensure that you have the latest version of the software, which is updated any time there is a change in reporting or other requirements.

Historical Data

Once you’re used the software for a while, the system will begin to provide historical reports which makes it easier to identify changes that occur over time. This feature is helpful whether there have been changes to your members list, or in the actual performance of a specific department. Regardless of where change has occurred, you and your board will have a handle on it!

This makes it easier for boards to make more informed decisions that will affect the NFP’s finances, and increases transparency in the decision-making process. Having a bookkeeping system that basically does much of the work for you will also go a long way towards making it easier to recruit your NFP’s next volunteer treasurer!

If you would like to see just how easy the software is to use for yourself, why not sign-up today for a free 55-day trial? 

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year


We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the festive break. We look forward to catching up with you in 2018 in what we hope will be a fantastic and prosperous new year.

Thanks always for your continued support.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Tips to Improve Your Funding Options


Does your fundraising strategy consist mainly of a vague idea to raise “more money than last year” and little else? Without financial clarity, and a strategy to optimise your organisation’s sources for funding, your nonprofit will find it difficult, and next to impossible to secure the monies that it needs to operate at a sustainable level and create actual impact for your cause.

The following strategies can help your organisation broaden its base of financial support by increasing the number of sources it has for funding.

Grants

Rather than relying solely on donations from individuals, consider searching for grants that are a good fit for your organisation. Grants can come from Federal or State governments as well as public and private entities such as foundations and corporations.

The applications process is typically quite lengthy, and complex, and there is usually stiff competition for these funds, so your NFP can benefit by bringing on board an experienced grant writer to help them with the proposal and applications process.

Sponsorships

Instead of trying to do everything on your own, consider reaching out to third parties for help in securing funding, and other resources, that will enable you to provide services and advance your cause.

Sponsorships and other collaborations can come from the commercial and government sectors, or might involving partnering with one more parties from the not-for-profit sector that will allow each to focus on performing the work that they do well. Groups can also cooperate and allow each to access resources that the other has to increase the amount of work that is performed by both groups.

Maximise Individual Contributions

Nonprofits can increase their funding simply by looking for opportunities to maximise the number and amount of individual donations that they receive.

To accomplish this goal, your fundraising approach should seek out ways to make it easy for supporters to give online, and give by their preferred means of payment.

Focus on encouraging repeat donors by developing a monthly giving program.

Approach board members and other key influencers that are connected with your organisation to reach out to potential big donors to support your NFP with a large contribution.

Crowdsourcing platforms can be a great way to raise awareness about your cause and encourage donations when they use storytelling to illustrate what is at stake if the issue your organisation is trying to tackle remains unsolved. Options to customise the message and share the campaign easily on social media will increase the number of folks that see your plea and follow through with a contribution.

Special Events

Standard fundraising events, such as charity auctions, galas and balls can be a good way to raise funds for your organisation, but only if they are cost-effective to host. If your NFP will not make a net profit from the event that’s worth the time and effort it takes to plan the event and hold it, you may want to limit the number and type of events that you throw as part of your fundraising efforts.

Consider Options that Increase Your Capacity for Self-Funding

While nonprofits are not designed to operate at a profit, since their main function is to serve the public good, this doesn’t mean that they should operate in an unsustainable manner. Your nonprofit can increase the soundness of its finances to look for ways to self-fund its growth. Does your nonprofit have assets that can be used to fund operations?

For example, would you be able to offer beneficiaries a higher level of service if you charged a fee for certain services? Would rents or activity fees allow you to do more good work, without compromising your core mission and goals? Is there a way to invest some of your funds that will enable your organisation to generate a passive income stream that could be used to fund operations and build capacity? Would selling some products and services allow your organisation to raise the funds that it needs while remaining in alignment with your organisations values?

While each NFP’s answer will be different to questions like these, if income generating activities don’t violate your nonprofit’s values or create another conflict, they can be a good way to raise the growth supporting funds that your organisation needs to survive and thrive.