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5 Things To Consider Changing at Your NPO

May 05, 2014

How to improve your processes to set your NPO up for success.

In my previous blog, I spoke about some of the successful things we have seen implemented at the over 220 not-for-profit organizations. This week, I will share with you some of the actions and activities that organizations have stopped doing. This does not necessarily mean that if you are doing some of these things you must stop immediately, but perhaps it should precipitate a discussion.

  1. Don’t ignore the smaller and medium size gift. Everyone likes to bring in the big gift and no one forgets to recognize the big giver. However, there are a number of people who give $500 to $10,000 annually to the charity of their choice who seem to fall through the cracks. These donors should be on the radar of your major-gift fundraisers. Perhaps you should have only one development person with the responsibility of these donors and a specific program for deepening those donors involvement with the organization.
  2. Don’t use social media indiscriminately. You don’t want to jump on every bandwagon that comes along and do none of them well. The key is to find out where your donors, volunteers and supports are, where they want to hear from you and then devote sufficient resources to that area to do it correctly and completely. If you do not have the time or the resources to commit to publishing to - social media so that it remains current, it is better to not participate at all and concentrate your efforts on keeping your website updated, fresh and relevant with new information.
  3. Don’t hoard information. You may produce an annual report but if you have good news and information about the successes experienced in a program, let the public know. Publish this on your website, send an e-mail to donors and volunteers and let local organizations or public figures know. A good rule of thumb is to be in touch with your constituency on a monthly basis. Many organizations are making effective use of an e-newsletter and once you get started you will be surprised how easy it is to come up with new information each month.
  4. Stop using generic language. Not-for-profit organizations are great at saying very little: we empower; we help educate; we help the community. Stop using those broad generalizations of your work and be specific. “We help adults raise their math skills two or more grade levels.” As I mentioned in my previous blog, donors are specific and want to know exactly what their donation is contributing to. Using language that is also specific will help your donor get a better sense of what you do and how that it is actually happening.
  5. Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is the price of progress and organizations that avoid failure are probably not taking big risks. Innovation is the path to progress. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas. Failure is not a problem when it is a learning experience.

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