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.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

How to Keep Your Team Happy


High turnover extracts a heavy toll on all organisations, particularly those in the not-for-profit sector. Not only does it waste the time, money and other precious resources that your NFP uses to train its people, turnover increases inefficiency in your organisation as your nonprofit must now go to the effort of finding, training and retaining new personnel.

Long before they leave, unhappy staff and volunteers impact your organisation in terms of the quality of service it provides all stakeholders. If you want to keep your team, and ensure that they are fully engaged in their work for your service community, your NFP’s leadership must make some effort to keep them happy.

The following are a few tips to help your nonprofit better meet the needs of its volunteers and staff members.

Empowerment and Flexibility

Regardless of anyone’s job title and duties, at least some of the tasks that are performed each day seem redundant and unnecessary. Each of us is also an individual with our own tastes and preferences, so wherever it is possible, try to grant your team as much autonomy and authority as possible. Empower your people to make decisions and to take responsibility in the areas that they work in.

Allow staff and volunteers to switch things up during their workday by allowing them to cross train and do similar work, but in different departments. Not only does this help to prevent monotony and boredom, your nonprofit benefits from new insight and perspective brought by members from other areas of your NFP’s operations. It also improves your organisation’s flexibility during times when you might be understaffed in some departments but overstaffed in others.

Keep Everyone Up-to-Date

Have you ever had the experience of having people close to you keep a secret from you? How did it make you feel?

When we respect others, we bring them into our circle of confidence. Everyone wants to know what is going on, and what they need to do as a team to advance the mission forward.

Be accessible to your teams, and make yourself available to them. Have an open-door policy that works both ways. Hold regular meetings with your team members so that you can keep them updated as to your organisation’s goals, policies, and breaking news.

If your team is scattered across multiple locations, assemble them together in one central location with as many members of your team as possible. Next, bring the others in via live video conferencing on Skype or another online platform. Make an effort to give everyone a voice during your meetings so that everyone’s concerns or questions are heard and addressed.

When you openly communicate with your team, you build trust, respect and rapport. Your staff and volunteers learn that they can count on you to provide them with the information that they need to perform their tasks well. Your team also learns that you have their best interests at heart and are looking out for them.

Acknowledgement

When we work hard, it’s only natural to want our efforts to be recognised and appreciated. Make sure that you are taking concrete steps to show your team that you truly value them as people. Let them know you are grateful for all the hard work that they put into advancing the mission and meeting the needs of others.

Awards ceremonies, perks, rewards and letters of appreciation can all go a long way to show your team just how important they are to you and your organisation. While many nonprofits run on the proverbial shoestring budget, it’s important to avoid the tendency to substitute perks and recognition for comparable compensation.

For your paid staff and volunteers, offer a living wage that’s in line with what others in comparable fields and positions pay. Whether other members of your team are paid or unpaid, make sure that they have all the resources that they need to do their jobs well. Invest in replacing outdated systems and upgrading critical infrastructure. Offer updated training and use innovative technologies to reduce the strain and workload on your teams.

Truly honoring your team’s contribution to your organisation is about more than offering a token acknowledgement; it’s about being realistic about the demands that are placed on them. Give them everything they need to perform well including public recognition, realistic wages, current information and equipment.  

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Importance of Social Media for NFPs

If nonprofits wish to survive and thrive, they must have support. This support can come in many forms such as advocacy, donations, and volunteering.

Increasing Support Doesn’t Have to Be Costly

At its heart, social media marketing allows nonprofits to use one of the most successful, and oldest, forms of advertising to increase its base of support: social influence, or, word-of-mouth marketing. Social media campaigns are effective for increasing an NFP’s reach because their cost can be easily controlled by scaling campaigns up or down.

Once the initial content is created, connections within various networks spread the message on their own, creating organic support and traffic without incurring additional cost. Using social media to find and recruit supporters, however, isn’t just about controlling costs. The following is a brief overview of two additional reasons why nonprofits need to be using social media in their marketing campaigns and communications.

To Stay Competitive

Competition is a key factor that affects the impact and growth of every nonprofit, despite the increase in collaborations and partnerships between third parties.

Nonprofits compete to recruit skilled, talented people to serve on boards, and as staff members and volunteers. Funds are also a scarce resource, as there are not enough grants, endowments and individual contributions to fund every need.

Research shows that if you want your nonprofit to be able to recruit enough staff, volunteers, advocates and donors, then your nonprofit must have an online presence, and be using social media to spread the word about your cause and how others can help.

According to statistics provided in the 2016 Global NGO Online Technology Report, most not for profits worldwide are actively online using multiple social media channels to connect with supporters, accept donations and spread awareness about their NFP’s mission. A full 92% of NFPs have a website and 46% blog regularly, making it easy for online users to discover information about their mission and projects.

75% email their supporters’ donation requests and other news, and 75% accept donations online. 95% have a Facebook page, 83% have a profile on Twitter, and nearly 40% use Instagram to keep their supporters up-to-date and motivated about the good work that their organisation is accomplishing.
To be effective, nonprofits must use social media to stand out from all of their competitors in both the for-profit and not-for-profit world. They should use it to firmly establish their brand, and link their brand to their cause, their vision and the work that can be accomplished with the support of others.

To Remain Relevant

It’s not just other NFPs that are online. According to data on social media trends provided by Track Maven, nearly one third of the entire world’s population will be online by next year. Global Web Index statistics reveal that most online users have about 6 social media profiles and regularly use nearly half of them.

This data clearly illustrates why it’s so important for your nonprofit to enter this space! A growing number of us no longer get our news from traditional network broadcasts and media outlets. Instead, we are leveraging our social media networks to stay up-to-date on the latest news and events. We then share those stories that personally connect with us and then like or otherwise express an opinion about these posts with our connections.

To become a part of these crucial conversations and exchanges of ideas, you must be online, and using the social media channels where these conversations are taking place. To engage with potential supporters, you must be online where your supporters are likely to be. Otherwise your cause will go unnoticed and your projects will go unsupported. To stay relevant, nonprofits need to include social media in their marketing strategies, and engage their supporters on the social media channels of their choice.  

If your nonprofit is struggling to build its base of support, this is likely a sign that your social media strategy may need some fine-tuning to return the results that your nonprofit wants and needs. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

3 Essential Qualities Every Good Treasurer Must Have


A volunteer treasurer needs to be organised and good with figures. They must ensure they are on top of the situation from the very first day of the job. They should be passionate and motivated. They need to be trustworthy and available when the charity or nonprofit has a query or requires a report. The list is seemingly endless!

On top of these traits, and the many others we could name off the top of our head, there are three other qualities which a treasurer must have in order to make their job easier.

Professionalism

Regardless of how relaxed the organisation is, as a Volunteer Treasurer, it is your job to represent the NFP in a professional manner. Having a solid base of professionalism will make the job simpler, and you never know who may be watching. Remember your volunteer role may lead to other opportunities in the future. Conduct yourself professionally in all situations and show the NFP that you have a solid work ethic regardless of whether it is a paid or volunteer position.

Strength

A Volunteer Treasurer needs to be tough and strong. You should always stick to your guns and follow the rules and policies set in place. If there are no rules, then create them. Establishing solid business practices from the start will hold you in good stead. Financial control policies are there for an excellent reason. They prevent bookkeeping errors and fraud. Don’t let the team walk all over you or ask you to bend their rules just because they don’t like them. Stick to the rules and your colleagues will soon understand that you mean business.

Creativity

If your nonprofit has not embraced modern technology or made any changes in the last ten years, then you may have to put your creative hat on. Just because it has always been done that way, doesn’t mean it has to stay like that. A Volunteer Treasurer’s position involves a lot of responsibility, and often there are systems you can utilise to cut down your hours or improve your overall effectiveness. Look at software options such as Admin Bandit or endeavour to fine-tune those reports so they are more efficient. There are always alternative methods - you just need to find the ones which will assist you to streamline the procedures and save the NFP time and money. Do your research to understand what will fit the needs of the NFP and, of course, yourself.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

How to Craft an Email Newsletter that Actually Gets Read and Creates Results

Drafting a newsletter can be very nerve-wracking. What if no one reads it; what if people unsubscribe as soon as they receive it? Well, chances of both of those things happening are quite high. But in between the unsubscribers and the deleters are a bunch of interested individuals who want to hear what you have to say.

There are some definite tips you can take on board to increase the percentage of those who read it and those who click on a link and visit your website, however. Despite those nerves, it is time to get drafting and provide valuable information to your readers that will have them engaging with your brand and donating to your cause.

Do you have an objective in mind?

If you are purely sending your email out because it is the third Tuesday of the month, then you may find yourself struggling a bit. You need to have a specific objective in mind when drafting it, so it resonates with your readers. Think about what your objective could be this month and then set out to fulfil this aim.

Are you consistent with design and frequency?

If you send out a newsletter every now and again, it may not be so well received. We are creatures of habits and you will be more likely to build trust if you send them out on a regular basis. Try to be consistent with your design, so it matches your newsletter and other marketing material. Once you have drafted it and have the layout approved, stick to it.

Do you have any metrics set in place?

Many nonprofits tend to shy away from metrics because they feel like they are a bit of a failure if they miss the mark. But metrics are particularly useful to see how well your newsletter was received. Focus on the positives – the likes and the clicks which demonstrate your achievements and then work out how to do better next month.

Have you come up with catchy headlines?

Most NFPs spend much of the time writing the text, planning the layout and tweaking the images. But remember, don't leave the headline until the last minute. It is the first thing they see in their inbox and well-placed strategic headings will carry the reader through the entire newsletter. Use them wisely.

Is it as pretty as a picture?

Huge blocks of text can be dull to browse. Break up the words with text or even a video but always check back to see whatever you are adding, connects strongly with the overall objective of the message. Don’t add a picture just for the sake of it.

Do you have a donate button incorporated into your newsletter?

It is such a small thing to do and if you use a template each month, then it is something that you probably don’t even need to think about. Make sure that there is an easy-to-locate donate button on your page in case your readers are feeling in the mood to give.

Constant communication will tick those boxes for accountability and trust, not to mention donor retention. Do your NFP a favour and send out newsletters that are worth writing and reading.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Attracting Millennials To Your NFP

NFPs need all sorts of employees and volunteers to function at its very best. Employing millennials (individuals born between 1980 to 2000) is a must, if it is your intention that your NFP stands the test of time. Millennials are not only generous to causes they believe in, but they can also educate you on new and improved ways to reach other millennials and increase donor support.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds and 27% of 25 to 34-year-olds volunteered in 2014. This is compared to 39% of individuals aged 35-44 and 42% of 15 to 17-year-olds. The 18 to 34 age group could definitely do with some more incentive to volunteer and gain employment with NFPs. Millennials are a huge part of the population, and organisations need to understand that there may be alternative ways to engage them.

It is essential that you create a brand or marketing campaign that millennials will be happy to get behind. Millennials resonate with individuals and organisations wanting to make a positive change in the world. If they feel empowered by your brand, then they will get excited about it. As millennials are heavily connected online, having a solid website, cleverly constructed 'About Us' page and well laid out social media channels is important. Make it eye-catching, inspiring and mobile-friendly.

Ensure it is easy for them to connect to you. The younger generation tends to make their decisions based on impulse. Don’t let anything stand in their way. And once you have their interest, try to keep them engaged. A millennial who follows your cause will be more willing to pass your information on to others.

Storytelling campaigns are one of the best ways you can connect with millennials. Showcase stories and profiles of individuals who are making strides in your industry, so they have someone to emulate.

If you use just some of the following tips to attract the millennials, then you stand more of a chance in increasing millennials.
  • ·         Strive for diversification in the workplace
  • ·         Use social media to communicate your story
  • ·         Explain career paths and opportunities
  • ·         Offer meaningful experiences
  • ·         Be open to new ideas
  • ·         Create entry level positions with real room to grow

Millennials appreciate companies who provide fulfilling jobs and flexible workplaces. NFPs must understand how to communicate this information authentically to draw in the younger crowd.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Do You Have These Skills To Help Your NFP Succeed?

Even if you have never worked for, or managed, an NFP before, you may find that you have many useful skills which can directly assist your organisation. Your individual skills, and the talents of your team members, is what gives your NFP its edge and corporate advantage over the other charities.

Leadership Skills

While you may not consider leadership skills to be important, remember, that it takes more than passion to lead an NFP to success. Leadership skills can vary but generally consist of the ability to think strategically and communicate well. Being able to motivate and inspire others is also an important asset to your company.

Marketing Skills

While traditional leaders have a team of marketers and social media managers working for them, NFPs have a leaner budget and must take on some of the efforts themselves. Social media can increase the awareness of your NFP and directly increase your fundraising efforts. As more and more people are accessing their information on mobile devices, NFPs need to stay up with the technology or avoid getting overlooked entirely.

Networking Skills

Being able to get out there and connect with other businesses and individuals will hold you in good stead. Effective communication and networking skills will enable you to reach out to potential donors and sponsors and really get across your motivations for doing what you do. Through your words alone, you can make connections that will guarantee long-term support, and ultimately the longevity of business.

Financial Skills

While financial skills can be learnt, having the ability to be able to manage the monies which come into the organisation can overcome any foreseeable challenges. It is not just a simple case of profit and loss for a nonprofit as the money may go back into the company to further their charitable aims, or even be allocated toward future fundraising and campaigns, as well as salaries and other running costs.