It’s that classic time for new beginnings, the start of a brand new, shiny bright year. New calendars, new diaries, all those blank pages just begging to be filled. Resolutions are only positive planning using this energy; good for us, good for our business. If your business is charity, harness that potential, all that budding anticipation with renewed drive. The new year is waiting and there’s no reason it can’t be great!
Many folks make resolutions aiming to improve themselves, ditch bad habits and create positive changes. Why don’t we approach our nonprofits with that same resolve? In this brief lull, before the year kicks into high gear, shine the spotlight on your systems and see where your group could use some nonprofit New Year resolutions.
Stewardship and donor relations are two terms cropping up continually in nonprofit lingo. Together they represent the desirable outcomes of your donor retention strategy. Er… that’s assuming your organization has a donor retention strategy? If your organization is falling short or struggling to keep up with stewardship, why not make this the year it all comes together? Make a resolution to focus on donor retention and see the impact on your bottom line.
An awful lot of smaller charities work without a fundraising plan. Do you operate like this? When there’s an idea for a fundraiser or event, do you cobble a committee or group together and just do it? When the bank account gets low, do you find yourself in a race to fund ongoing operations?
Not only is this system (or non-system) stressful and frantic for everyone, it’s inefficient and easily fixed by writing out a fundraising plan. Really – if you’re operating with no plan in place, write it now. If there’s no development department yet, the nonprofit’s head person should write the plan with input from the board.
3. Whip your website into shape
Has your website been languishing, neglected while your nonprofit fought to keep up with all the busyness at years’ end? No time before the holidays to give it a facelift? Now is the right time to update your group’s internet presence.
Nonprofit organizations use their websites to foster donations, encourage contributions and produce volunteers. Ask yourself who your targets are, who supports your cause? Make sure your contact details are easy to find and the website’s mobile-friendly and fast to load; your site visitors are busy people and need to get the meat of your message quickly or they’ll simply leave.
4. Explore untapped fundraising resources
Seek out new potential corporate or business sponsors for your organization. If this becomes one of your nonprofit’s New Year resolutions, be sure the target companies embrace business values and practices compatible with your charity’s mission.
Start with local businesses where an association could be mutually beneficial. Your contacts (their contacts) and social media like LinkedIn, will help identify indirect associations you may not even be aware of. You’ll need to do some research and find out whom to approach, usually the manager (in smaller businesses) or the head of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)in larger companies.
5. Make community engagement a priority
If you’re feeling like your nonprofit functions in a vacuum, it’s possible that community engagement has been low down on the list of priorities. Like donor relationships, community engagement is the process of involving the local public with your nonprofit’s mission and work.
The mission of and the work done by a charity is of most concern to the community it serves. Creating ongoing allies and forming relationships with community members makes good sense in every way possible. The result of community engagement is raising an army of support for your mission, making the community a better place to live. Your nonprofit New Year resolution to get your message out and connect to your community will reap the rewards of local involvement.
6. Grants are accessible
Have you been disregarding a major source of funding because it seems so impenetrable, or perhaps you believe your organization is too small or too new? Without cash, a charity can’t provide the services and programs it was created to deliver. Without cash, nonprofits would have trouble keeping the doors open. So where do you get the money you need to operate?
Most start-up charities try to find donations from individual donors and special fundraising events and because small nonprofits should be continually building their individual donor base, this is a good strategy. But don’t ignore grants. Yes, the grant process is competitive and the belief that small or new nonprofits can’t get grants is a common fallacy, but the size or age of the charity is rarely an issue.
A small nonprofit can first explore the possibility of a federal grant and if your organization is eligible, there’s no reason not to apply. If you haven’t yet ventured into grant proposals, a good New Year resolution for your nonprofit could be to try. You might just succeed!
7. Keep everyone motivated!
Keeping your nonprofit workforce motivated and engaged is vital for success. Motivation isn’t a problem when the buzz of accomplishments will become a wave that carries the whole organization on its crest. But there will be times when morale is low, even with a passionate, hard-working team committed to growing and improving the organization.
You need people who’ll go that extra mile for the mission; everyone wants interesting work that’s absorbing and enjoyable but work that’s important, that makes a difference, is invaluable. Be generous with praise, it’s always appreciated!
Having motivated, engaged people means better productivity so make a nonprofit New Year resolution to boost morale and raise spirits!