Tuesday, February 8, 2011

18 Resolutions for the Small Nonprofit Organization in 2011

 A few years ago I stopped making New Year's resolutions.  I guess I finally had the realization that making a resolution at the beginning of the year and failing miserably at keeping it by February or March was not a good thing for my psyche.  So my solution was "if you don't make resolutions then you won't have any guilt when you fail at keeping them."  Mmmm.  That logic doesn't apply to the management of your nonprofit.  It is not only healthy but necessary to take time to really look at how you are managing your organization and your fundraising.  Pamela Grow always has great advice on grant writing and fundraising and her 18 Resolutions for the Small Nonprofit in 2011 can be implemented any time of the year.  Read, consider and "grow."  Bunnie

18 Resolutions for the Small Nonprofit Organization in 2011
by Pamela Grow
  1. Resolve to master the art of persuasive copy-writing.  No no no, not your typical ‘non-profit speak,’ but persuasive copywriting.  Watch infomercials (I’m serious).  Take a creative writing course.  Read any one of Tom Ahern’s books.  As you read what you’ve written, ask yourself “would I care?”

  1. Develop systems.  Within your systems, establish small daily or weekly habits – such as 30 minutes daily of foundation research or spending 30 minutes on the phone with donors.

  1. Quit copying your peers.

  1. Learn how to use email effectively.

  1. Resolve to leave your comfort zone.   Before signing up for another AFP workshop, consider attending an email marketing seminar or even a Dale Carnegie training.

  1. Establish the processes to build relationships with grant funders – just as you do your donors.  A declination is an opportunity for further communication.

  1. Integrate your communications.  Online, direct mail, email, social media – it needs to be cohesive.

  1. Via Tom Ahern:  “Be different. Be fun. Be authentic.”

  1. There’s more to social media than updating your Facebook status or posting blast tweets on Twitter.  Learn how to use social media to engage.

  1. Excel is not a database.  Lose it.  If you’re keeping your data in Excel, know your criteria for a database, evaluate three providers and select one.  Make sure that training and support are key components.

  1. Spend money on training.  Yes, when I was a nonprofit employee, with one exception, none of my employers paid for any training.  Guess what?  I bought books and attended seminars on my own dime.  Invest in yourself.

  1. Start a monthly giving program.  This one’s a no-brainer – need I say more?

  1. Educate your board on fundraising.  This one doesn’t involve hiring a one-time ‘board trainer’ for your next retreat.  It involves developing a – dare I say fun? – culture of fundraising within your board.  One very simple way to start is by sharing a clip from the Movie Mondays series Top 10 Best Movies for Helping Board Members at the beginning of every board meeting.

  1. Take a hula hoop to work.  When the stress gets to be too much incorporate a little joy and movement into your day.

  1. Learn how to re-purpose content for different donor communications channels.

  1. Communicate more.  Yes, I know that studies consistently show that donors are turned off by organizations who over-communicate or over-solicit.  Trust me, the small, community-based nonprofit organization rarely falls into that category.

  1. Take charge and take responsibility.

  1. Say thank you.  Again and again and again.  And again.  Create a stewardship system and put it in writing.


  1. That's it, I resolve to bring my hula hoop to work! Although, since I do work from home I guess that I'm not making much of a statement to anyone but myself. Okay, I guess I'll do the #6 thing more often.

  2. These are some really good points that are raised by Pamela. We really like point 11 which encourages people to invest in getting training to continue to increase their capacity for the task at hand.

  3. As always, great suggestions by Pamela. Of course, take your hula hoop is my favorite. I'd like some additional details, such as: copy your peers only when what they're doing is working and not when it's not! Also, what does it mean to use email effectively? Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

  4. I have recently discovered a great little program that is cost effective way to raise money, brings continual income, and is easy to use. This program also enables me to set up organizations of all variety of purposes, that will achieve benefits at a later date. Would love to share it with any of you who may be looking for such a program. It’s works great! Especially great for smaller groups that don’t have large budgets. Schools and non profit organizations really do well with this!

  5. Hey Paula, I feel the same way regarding the NY's resolutions. BTW, considering your surname, you can't lose!
    Johnny Ferreira
    Music Producer
    M-Audio Profire 2626

  6. Great post! I especially like the part to take charge and responsibility. Many people simply can't or won't take responsibility. The bottomline is, someone has to do it. If it falls on us then we have to take the wheel. Of course, always say, thank you.

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  9. Number 10 really struck a chord with me.

    "Excel is not a database. Lose it. If you’re keeping your data in Excel, know your criteria for a database, evaluate three providers and select one. Make sure that training and support are key components."

    This is so true. Many organizations, not just small profits, continue to use programs such as Excel to store all of their rudimentary data. You simply cannot do much with all of that data, let alone make sense of it and learn from it to improve your processes.

    My company, Modern Analytics, has created a powerful predictive analytics solution that you can read about here. Our software helps organizations gather all of their big data, analyze it, and use it to help them make sound decisions about the future. Companies now have the ability to predict the future in an intelligent manner. Just thought I would share in case anyone has any interest in reading more.