Friday, 28 December 2018

How to Maintain Happy Staff

Whether it’s your support staff in the office, your fundraisers, or even your volunteers, it’s important to take steps to keep your entire team happy. After all, job satisfaction and morale have a direct effect on performance, and happy staff are more likely to be a productive one! All it takes is just one or two disengaged members to affect the mood and ability of your entire organisation!

Take the following steps to create a workplace environment that’s energising and enjoyable, and that will support your staff and encourage them to give their best effort every single day!


No one likes to feel as though someone is always looking over their shoulder trying to catch them in a mistake. One of the best things that you can do to create a healthy workspace is to trust your team and their abilities. Empower them to make decisions and act to fix minor issues. Trust them with meaningful work. Give them opportunities to learn new things by cross-training in other departments and encourage task sharing and teamwork.


Make sure that your team is ready to perform its duties well by giving them everything that they need to be well equipped and prepared. This means offering them training and guidance and providing them with updated tools and equipment that will increase their productivity and make it easier to complete their assigned tasks. Nothing is quite so frustrating as trying to use outdated hardware and software to complete duties that would be easier and faster to perform with current equipment and continuing education.


Does your team know what’s expected of them? Do they understand your workplace culture and are they a good fit for your organisation’s values and goals? Do they share your vision and mission? Regardless of someone’s position in your organisation, make sure that you have clearly communicated to them their roles, responsibilities and rights. Talk with them on a regular basis about their performance, as well as their short, mid-range and long-term career goals. Learn about each member’s needs and seek ways to help them meet their career objectives, including connecting them with people and resources that can help them learn new skills and gain new experience that will help them grow on both a personal and professional level.


Be realistic in your expectations for your team regarding their performance and the commitments you ask from them in terms of time and effort. Show them that you respect them as people by being sensitive to their needs for time away from your organisation to meet other obligations and have time to rest and relax. Offer flexible scheduling and other accommodations to be more inclusive, diverse and fair. Acknowledge your team and specific members when their performance truly stands out and exceeds your expectations. In addition to regular praise, look for ways to express your gratitude for their hard work on a personal level that your individual members will find meaningful.

As you repeat each of the four steps over time, the bonds between you and your team will strengthen, performance will improve as will comradery and morale. You will have created a robust and resilient organisation one interaction, and person, at a time!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

How to Maintain Fundraising Success

Burnout is a very real concern in the not-for-profits sector. It’s not just something that befalls staff members and volunteers, either. Donors can also fall victim to fatigue and decrease their interest and engagement with your NFP. To prevent burnout, you need to understand the natural cycles that affect your relationships with your donors and take steps to build your connection with them to keep increasing the results of your fundraising campaigns.

Build a Foundation

Regardless of whether it’s a personal or professional relationship, it takes time to get to know others and establish rapport. In the early days of your nonprofit, your focus should be on creating a donor acquisition plan. During this stage of development, your main goals are to find as many ways as possible to introduce your nonprofit, it’s work, and, yourself, to your community.

Maintain Your Relationships

As interest begins to build in your nonprofit, it’s important that you don’t spread yourself too thin. Recruit board members and others in your organisation to help you with your outreach to your donors. Offer fundraising campaigns that will appeal to a wide range of potential donors. Follow up personally with those key individuals who are most excited and engaged with your work.

As you work on maintaining and strengthening bonds with your community, look for ways to gain insight and feedback from your service beneficiaries, as well as your donors and other supporters. This way you can learn more about the true needs in your community, and what donors want to see from your organisation in terms of programs and services as well as information. Make certain that your programs put beneficiaries first, to ensure that your services are relevant.

Keep the channels of communication open and explain the difference that you are making in human, relatable terms. Doing so will help to build trust and credibility in your community. At this stage, you should be encouraging those who make annual or one-time gifts to consider making recurring gifts and always be encouraging your donors to support your organisation in multiple ways.

Prepare for the Future

As the relationship between your donors and organisation grows and matures, look for ways to show your gratitude to your key donors. In addition to thank you notes and acknowledgements which you should send to all donors at every level, celebrate how much your organisation has already been able to accomplish. Keep in touch with your key donors and keep them informed about the progress you are making. Share and emphasise your nonprofit’s vision for the future.

Ask donors for their insight and input on your future goals and what type of impact they would like to see occur. Use the information that you learn to create proposals that are tailored to the needs of individual donors and ask them to consider making a substantial investment in your work so that together, you can build a better future for your community.  

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

How to Make the Most of Your NFP/For-Profit Partnerships

Premium partnerships allow each party to focus on what they do best so that each one can leverage the synergy that is created when they cooperate, rather than compete. Such alliances allow each partner to achieve more than it would on its own and lets everyone make the best use of all their resources. This way less is wasted through the duplication of services or other assets.
The following strategies will help you and your partners reap the full benefits offered by collaborative relationships.

How Does the Partnership Serve Each Party’s Mission?

For collaborations to be worthwhile, they must serve the interests of each party. One way to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met is to look at each organisation’s values and mission. When creating the framework for your partnership, look for ways that the parties can cooperate and advance one another’s core objectives so that they are in alignment with each other's mission.

Take into Consideration What Each  Prospective Partner Has to Offer

Many corporate sponsors are content to provide cash donations to a nonprofit that they support, but, others wish to take a more hands-on approach. To make the most of this assistance, take into consideration how the for-profit partner is uniquely qualified to aid the NFP.

For example, they might lend the expertise of their staff to help with logistics, technical support, training or other similar assistance. If the company has products and services that the NFP or its members would find useful, it might donate hardware or software to help the nonprofit grow sustainably or improve its ability to deliver programs and thereby increase its impact in the community.

Use Branding and Messaging to Build Support for Each Partner

Each partner should provide high-resolution copies of their official logos, mottos and other brand messaging that can be used in public releases, news items and other communications so that each partner can benefit from the positive publicity and build their brand. Each party should share releases on their websites and social media channels. Designate key members of each organisation to act as community ambassadors that explain the work that the partners are accomplishing through their collaboration.

Create a Formal, Written Agreement

Make sure that your partnership gets started on the right track by creating a formal document that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each partner. Be very clear about what each partner will bring to the relationship.

Create a framework for managing the partnership. Designate contacts in each organisation that will be responsible for the management of the partnership. This document should define the purpose of your partnership, articulate your shared goals and outline your agreed upon policies and practices. It should include the guidelines that will be followed regarding leadership, communication and conflict resolution. Taking this approach from the very start will allow you to have more open and honest discussions and reduce potential confusion and misunderstandings.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Build Trust to Boost Your Donations

The more that your supporters trust you to keep your promises to put their contributions to good use, the more likely they are to donate to your cause. Donations from both individuals and businesses are critical to helping your nonprofit grow sustainably, as this type of funding typically doesn’t come with pre-conditions on how it is to be spent. When your NFP receives donations, you usually just need to ensure that they are used for a charitable purpose that advances your mission. The following three strategies will help you develop stronger relationships and greater trust with your donors and encourage greater giving.  

Use Consistent Messaging to Eliminate Confusion and Strengthen Your Brand

Do your supporters know what your organisation stands for? What images come to mind when they hear your name and tagline or see your logo? Are your messages consistent with your values and does it bring your mission into sharp focus? Use consistent messages across all your communication channels to create a strong brand identity for your nonprofit that will increase your NFP’s reputation.

Increase Transparency

One trend that nonprofits must stay on top of is donors’ growing desire for detailed information about NFP finances and activities. One way to increase understanding about your nonprofit’s position is to publish your financial results frequently. 

Release the minutes of your board meetings and hold your meetings in public so that your supporters have ample opportunity to review your NFP’s decision-making processes. Show your donors exactly how their contribution impacts your organisation, and how their donation will specifically be used to advance your mission forward!

Develop Relationships and Avoid the Hard Sell

Most of us are more likely to give to causes that resonate with us and because we have some personal connection to the mission.  Focus on open communication and building strong relationships with your current donors and prospects. Take the time to connect with them and learn what makes them “tick” as individuals so that you can show them how contributing to your NFP helps them as well as others. Reach out to your supporters on a regular basis to keep them updated on your activities and the progress that you are making.

Segment your donor lists and adjust your approach based on the frequency and size of individual donations. If someone declines to give a gift, thank them for supporting your nonprofit and ask them to continue their support in other forms. For example, just because someone can’t or won’t donate right now doesn’t mean that they are unwilling to advocate on your behalf or volunteer. Look for ways to streamline and simplify the donation process so that transactions are fast, secure and simple.

Finally, don’t forget to show your gratitude to your donors and other supporters. Automatically thank your online contributors, and follow up with a more personalised, handwritten thank you note. Or, if you prefer, you can pick up the phone and call them to show your heartfelt thanks! 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

When Was the Last Time You Reviewed Your Volunteer Program?

Are you putting your volunteer’s talents to their best use? If you do not see the value you expect from your volunteer program, it’s probably time for a complete assessment. Once you know what parts of your program are working well, and which aren’t, you can act to improve the program for both your participants as well as your nonprofit! The following steps will help you dig deep into your processes so that you can identify areas for improvement and increase your results!

Build a Process to Review Your Program

If this is the first time that you’ve put serious effort and energy into reviewing your program, you will need to create a process for review. Break the program down into vital areas. What are your basic expectations for all volunteers? Are there positions that require specific skills and abilities? How does this impact your expectations?

Divide your expectations into categories, typically along the lines of exceeds expectations, meets requirements, and needs additional improvement. Once you have outlined your expectations, and benchmarks, create a template that you will use to review the work of your volunteers.

Create a Review Template

In this template, you will want to designate areas where you will measure items important to your nonprofit such as basic skills, punctuality and individual goals. When evaluating an individual volunteer with the template, you will then measure their performance for each category.

In addition to deciding whether they meet or exceed requirements, demonstrate their success with specific examples of how well they are doing. Another area that you may want to include in your template is one where you can gather feedback from individual volunteers about what they like about the program, and their suggestions for improvement. Use these suggestions to help you uncover ways that you can improve the program to make it better for your volunteers and the people they assist.

Increase the Frequency that You Offer Feedback

Once you have a process to evaluate the performance of your individual volunteers, decide how frequently you will offer feedback. Usually, it’s a good idea to decide on a probationary period for your newest volunteers as they are just beginning to become acquainted with your organisation and their role within it.

Once they are past this hurdle, quarterly or even monthly reviews aren’t a bad idea, although some nonprofits only conduct an annual review. The more frequently that you survey your volunteers, the sooner that you can help them take corrective action to improve their performance, as well as gain insight on how they feel about their work, and ways that you could improve your program.

Don’t Forget to Survey Your Stakeholders

Speaking with your volunteers about their work for your organisation is just part of the process. Review your program with your NFP’s stakeholders, including your donors, members and other service recipients, and any third-party partners you may have. What have they experienced in their encounters with your organisation’s volunteers? Are their needs being met? What are their suggestions to improve its benefits?

Analyse Feedback from Volunteers and Stakeholders and Act

Once you’ve evaluated the performance of your volunteers, received their suggestions for improvement and surveyed your stakeholders about your work, look at the information that you’ve received and translate it into data that can assist you in locating areas that need improvement. For example, you might be receiving a lot of feedback from volunteers that have a hard time using your existing software to capture member information. This could mean that your volunteers need more training on how to use your programs, or, it could also mean that your existing software needs an upgrade to something that’s faster and easier to use.

Your first action would be to investigate further to pinpoint the source of the problem, and once found, your goal would be to take the next action that best remedies the problem. You could decide to retrain your staff on the use of the software and then set a goal of reducing complaints by 50%. If after re-training the goal was met, you would know that your solution is on the right track. If, however, retraining did little to reduce the problem, then you would know that you would need to attempt another solution, such as upgrading.

Benefits of Reviewing Your Volunteer Program

Talking with your volunteers and stakeholders is the best way to gain valuable insight into which of your policies, practices and procedures are working well. It’s also the best way to give your volunteers the coaching and guidance that they need to learn more about your organisation’s work, how to fit in with the culture and how to stay focused and in alignment with your mission as they complete their daily tasks and fulfil their duties. Creating a formal review process for both individual volunteers and the program overall helps you to ensure that you are using the same standards during evaluations which increases fairness and transparency and decreases bias, improving the quality of the information that you receive so that you can set more realistic goals and better action plans to increase your results.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Indicators of NFP Success

Do you know the true impact, and value, of your nonprofit’s work? How far have you been able to advance your mission? Do your staff and volunteers produce work efficiently? Are you making the best use of all your resources, and are you able to leverage them to make a lasting difference in your community?

These are just a few of the questions that your donors and other supporters are likely to ask about your nonprofit before they contribute. After all, most of us want to feel that our gifts are being put to good use.

Each of these questions points to a larger one that can be difficult to clearly define: is your NFP successful?

Using Metrics to Gauge Success

There are many metrics that you can use to try to measure and quantify your progress. For example, the per cent of the funding that you spend on programs vs. overhead costs, and how much your membership rolls have grown over last year’s numbers do provide some insight into whether you are managing your finances well, and, if your organisation is growing.

These numbers, however, can be a bit deceptive because they don’t provide a complete picture. Statistics like these are primarily focused on your nonprofit’s management of two factors: it’s inputs and outputs.

Inputs look at the relationship between the number of resources that were used for specific activities, whereas outputs look at the services, programs and other activities performed by the nonprofit. The problem is that neither of these categories provides any insight into whether your program participants, or society as a whole, actually benefit from your nonprofit’s work. Regardless of how well you manage your organisation’s finances and how solid your bottom line appears, are you really successful if you aren’t making a meaningful, positive difference in your community?

A better measurement of success, which usually isn’t revealed by the metrics presented in financial statements or their notes and supplements, is to look at the outcomes that are a direct result of your nonprofit’s work.

Measuring Outcomes

In its simplest form, using outcomes to determine success is an attempt to measure whether your nonprofit is working towards its purpose. Measuring outcomes isn’t about counting up the amount of resources that you’ve used, or the number of services you’ve offered in your community. To determine whether you are making real progress towards solving the issue, you must tie your metrics to the actual mission.

Break your mission down into the steps that need to be taken to achieve it. Customise your metrics to measure just how well you are achieving these performance-driven goals.

While it’s tempting to oversimply your mission at this point,  nonprofits should be careful to set goals and take action that actually gets at the heart of the social problem they are trying to solve and not just treat its symptoms. Choose metrics and benchmarks that illustrate the impact made by your activities. Who benefits from them, and how much have they benefited from your work?

When attempting to measure how successful your outcomes are, it’s essential to examine impact through both a short, and long-term lens. Measure the progress being made towards solving the problem by looking at performance throughout your organisation. Are you setting your organisation up for long-term success and sustainability, or, are you shortchanging the future and jeopardising your NFP’s ability to drive change in the long term by failing to build capacity and neglecting the need to invest in, and develop, your people?

Is your nonprofit genuinely successful? The answer is hard to quantify, but, if you are making a real difference in the lives of your service recipients while investing in your infrastructure, you are well on our way to creating a strong, vibrant NFP capable of making a positive difference that’s sustainable and poised for long-term success! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Survival Tips for NFPs for the 2018-2019 Financial Year

A new fiscal year has just begun for most nonprofits! The following strategies can help your NFP ensure its survival and growth in the coming year!

Know Thy Self

Do you and your board fully understand your core mission, and, does your strategic planning and other decisions consider whether an activity or expenditure is in direct support of it? There is an increasing push for organisations to offer more programs and services, often at the expense of taking the steps that are necessary to strengthen the NFP and position it for sustainable growth. Keeping your eyes “on the prize” by focusing efforts on achieving your core mission will help prevent resource draining mission creep and help you build a strong, resilient nonprofit.

Know Your Audience

Do you know, and understand, the different segments of your audience? Do you know their tastes and preferences, age, education level, occupation and other demographics? The more that you can learn about the key groups that comprise your audience, the easier it is to create content that is relevant to them, increasing your authority in your specific area of expertise, and making you the go-to source for information in your niche. This makes it easier to create meaningful content that will be consumed, enjoyed and shared by your supporters, which increases the reach of your messages and makes it easier to raise funds, reach recruiting targets, and make a genuine, lasting difference in your community.

Develop Your Board and Staff

To make wise decisions, each member of your board needs to be fully engaged with your NFP and its work. Focusing on your core mission can free up funds that can be spent on training and other development projects that increase the knowledge of all your board members, improving their ability to take wise action to advance your cause. It also allows you to invest in your key people, including staff and volunteers, so that they have what they need to perform their tasks well and actively engage with service beneficiaries and other key stakeholders in your community.

Make inclusion, diversity and equality a priority for your organisation and the people that you attract to it. By diversifying the backgrounds and experiences of your supporters, you increase your ability to create relevant services, in addition to useful content, improving your decision-making capability, as well as your performance in other areas, in the long term.

Build Your Brand and Choose Your Channels

Another key focus of thriving nonprofits is that they invest in building and developing their brand. Use the information that you learn about your audience to reach supporters using the means of communication that they prefer. Build a stronger brand image by focusing on your NFPs values and vision and keeping your messages on target. Choose specific social media, and other communication channels to reach key segments of your target audience to improve your fundraising performance and other metrics.

Don’t Remain Silent

Have figures from your nonprofit, such as your executive director, board members, volunteers and other supporters speak out on the social issues that affect your nonprofit’s community. Encourage all your supporters to share your posts, as well as get involved on their local level to speak up about your cause and the work that your nonprofit is doing to make things better. Encourage advocacy at every level of your organisation and help your people to build their connections with diverse groups of individuals and institutions to increase support for your work.

Make Strategic Planning a Priority

While no one has a crystal ball that allows them to create plans for every possible contingency those organisations that can respond rapidly to dramatic change are the ones that fare best. Make planning a priority for your board, as well as other key leaders in your nonprofit. Don’t just have one backup plan. Try to anticipate upcoming changes that may drastically alter support for your organisation and its work. Create plans that will enable your nonprofit to continue its work despite what happens with Government budgets, the overall economy, political upheaval and other changes that can harm weaker organisations that have failed to prepare for change.