Four New Year’s Resolutions for your Nonprofit
It’s only a few days away, do you have your nonprofit New Year’s resolutions ready?
If you’re still looking for some motivation or just new ideas, here are a few tips to keep in mind for 2022.
– Review what works
Sure it sounds simple; we all try to remember the basic ideas around what concepts and fundraisers worked last year, but it’s a good idea to take it a step further. Sit down, look at the reports from the end of your campaigns. Review some of your final emails or presentations.
For example, if you’re planning a spring fundraising event, March was a long time ago. You may remember some of the big takeaways, context, or smaller issues may be lost. So pull out that slide deck that discussed the final numbers and takeaways. Future you will thank you.
Also, take a moment and revisit your emails, social posts, and most successful fundraising pushes. Take a moment and touch base with the most successful clients and top fundraisers in the upcoming year. Ask them what worked and how you can help.
You don’t have to start over from the very beginning or re-learn, build on the strong notes you established last year.
– Develop a stronger team
While this has always been true, it’s even more important in the current labor market. Turnover can kill your momentum and has a cost in real dollars as productivity usually decreases in the new hire learning process.
And there are two important factors in developing a stronger team, creating good communication with your staff and creating solid, attainable goals to work towards.
While we all agree that communication is vital, you must also be aware that different people communicate in different ways. Remain aware of how and why they communicate. Some employees will tell you everything that is wrong and every problem, while others will try to solve problems themselves and may be late to the table when an issue may need extra support.
A great way to work with your staff is to ask them about their “pain points” and to take it a step further, look at some common pain points and solutions to relieve them. These can be anything, including technology issues, to training or advancement.
And of course, the second key factor is establishing clear goals that everyone understands. A way to start that process is by using the no. 1 step above, reviewing what works. After a review, you can look at prior successes and failures, and create new metrics for the upcoming year based on past growth and successes. You should also bring your staff into the planning process and ask them for suggestions and feedback along the way. They may have a note or issue that they hadn’t previously reported or now that time has past, have a new solution. This will clarify why the goals are what they are.
– Improve your outreach
Developing a stronger team is one part of the key communication, but your communications and image with your clients are just as important.
Evaluate your communications, beyond no. 1: review what works. Create an online survey that directly asks your community how they spend their time and how they feel about your current communications.
Simply asking your community how they engage with media can tell you a lot about the areas to focus on and explore to reach certain groups. For example, if 60 percent of your 65 and older population is often on Facebook, that could show you it could be an effective way to reach that group. However, if 90 percent of that same group likes direct mail, that could be a more effective way to reach them. Surveys can unlock that data so you can find the best way to communicate with your key constituencies.
You can also ask your community how they like your communications. These can be particularly helpful in follow-ups after events and campaigns. After an event, you can ask “Do you feel like this event and facts around it were properly communicated?” and “Do you feel that you knew what you needed to know about the event?”
And, of course, another important method is to talk to your leaders on the ground. Those who work with volunteers know a lot about what the volunteers think and the common questions they have.
– Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm
It can be critical to planning and creativity to brainstorm. You can find new and innovative ideas on how to invigorate an old stale event or campaign, but, there are rules.
Brainstorming, if you’re going to do it, must be an early and planned part of your process. Ideas must be vetted, and there must be time for counterproposals. Few ideas are perfect and fully formed out of a first brainstorming session.
Generally, this should be one of the earliest parts of planning for the process, after perhaps a kick-off planning meeting that sets overall basic goals for the event or campaign. Your creative team along with key constituents (like event managers and directors) should be included in a series of sessions, possibly with smaller team sessions held in between. And giving everyone time to ruminate on the needs at hand can lead to random “lightning” moments while washing the dishes from dinner or thinking of the solution in the commute to the office.
However in the end, the real point is to find better ways to engage your audience and the general public. A good idea is to start with the top three ideas from the group and continue to work with them and hone them down into key strategies, which will reveal which ideas will actually work on paper vs. just sound good in the discussion.
As the process progresses, so will your ideas. In fact, some ideas may end very far from where they started, but that starting point was key to the process. Be sure to give the process plenty of time for revision and review, ideally months ahead of key deliverables on a large project.
And with those four nonprofit resolutions for the upcoming year, Happy New Year!