Is There an App for That (Nonprofit)?

Group of business associates in a line text messaging on their cellphone

In today’s technology-based world, few people go anywhere without their smartphones. Think about it. How often do you not have your phone nearby? I’m betting your answer is, “Almost never.” So what does this have to do with nonprofits? The short answer: Everything.

If your nonprofit isn’t readily available on your smartphone, the truth is you’re losing money. Donors want to be able to find you quickly and be able to donate easily online. You also want your donors to be able to share their enthusiasm about your nonprofit with their friends via social media. And the greater your social media presence, the more likely your donors will be to share your posts, highlighting your successes and your value to the community, which will, in turn, generate more interest in your organization AND more donations. Win-win-win!

Keep in mind this sharing aspect of digital media is free publicity–FREE! So it’s critical your leadership understands the importance of establishing a strong web presence. While this social media sharing aspect is free, creating a digital media presence does require an investment in infrastructure.

In a recent blog post, we defined infrastructure as “systems, staff, and equipment,” and technology plays a role in each of these areas. Here are some questions to consider about the infrastructure required for your digital media presence:

  1. Does your nonprofit have staff dedicated to your web presence?
  2. Is this digital media staff well-trained?  Note: It’s critical that they’re not only tech-savvy but that they also have an understanding of public relations, fundraising, marketing and communications.
  3. Does your staff have the tools (i.e. computers and software) required for creating a strong web presence?
  4. Do you have a digital media plan in place that includes when you publish, what you publish, and how you reach your audience? For example, are you using Facebook or LinkedIn? Are you active on Twitter? Do you maintain a blog? Is your website up-to-date with the latest information? Is your donation button working properly, and are your online donors thanked promptly?

These are not small endeavors, and they do require a regular investment of time and money; however, you’d be hard-pressed today to find a successful nonprofit that isn’t utilizing the internet to its best advantage. I’m not arguing that your nonprofit needs an actual app (though this might be worth considering), but do you need a web presence? Absolutely–no matter the size of your nonprofit–and the bigger the web presence, the better!

In the long run, by investing in the infrastructure necessary to develop a strong web presence, your nonprofit will exponentially expand its impact and save money in the process. And that’s music to your donors’ ears!

created by Kathryn Clarke, Program Assistant, Eno River Consulting http://www.enoriverconsulting.org

Fundraising: NOT the Luck of the Irish

During the gold rush, some of the most successful miners were of Irish descent, which gradually gave way to the expression, “luck of the Irish.” Ironically, mining success is less a result of luck than it is a byproduct of skill, planning, and grit, much like fundraising. Sure, there’s a chance a total stranger could leave a gazillion dollars to your organization, but it’s certainly not the norm. Rather it is through hard work and a rock-solid plan that nonprofits reach philanthropic success.

While a well-developed and thoughtful fundraising plan is fundamental to success, many organizations operate in a reactive manner, regularly having to put out fiscal fires, as opposed to being proactive in their program development. A well-crafted fundraising plan allows a nonprofit to focus, be strategic and control workflow while moving toward its highest goals.

Here are five golden tips to help you create a dynamic fundraising plan for your organization:

  1. Engagement  While having a single manager for your plan development is wise, a variety of stakeholders should be engaged in the process. Board members, Executive Directors, Development professionals, staff and key volunteers all have valuable insight into goal setting, strategies, activities and needs for support.
  2. Goals  Be specific in setting goals and make sure your goals are measurable and can be realistically attained. That said, be sure to stretch yourself and your staff to work toward your highest goals, avoiding complacency. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and remember how good everyone will feel after meeting or exceeding the challenges!
  3. Strategies  Be specific with the strategies that you will employ to reach each goal. Consider all the techniques you will use to raise funds and cultivate donors. From special events to phonathons, direct mail and volunteer solicitors, utilize a variety of strategies and be sure to evaluate what is working best for your organization along the way.
  4. Timeline  Creating a manageable timeline ensures that you control the flow of work in your shop. A timeline can help you identify downtime for planning, evaluation or office retreats and visually demonstrate the progressive nature of your efforts toward meeting your annual goal.
  5. Flexibility  Creating a plan that is flexible and organic in nature provides space for innovation and for taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities. Evaluate periodically to see what is and isn’t working, and pivot if necessary.

Spring is here and NOW is the time for planning to begin. May the road rise to meet you!

Created by Amy FitzGerald, MSW, Senior Consultant, Eno River Consulting, www.enoriverconsulting.orgIf your organization wants to develop a robust fundraising plan, we can help. Call 919.234.7281 for a free consultation.Untitled design (2)

50 Ways to Love Your Donors

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In parts of Europe, keys are given to lovers and children alike to assist in unlocking the “giver’s heart.”  Strategically and authentically cultivating donors is vital to our everyday work toward building successful fundraising programs and sustainable organizations. Taking a cue from American musician extraordinaire, Paul Simon, here are Fifty Ways to Love Your Donors and support the opening of their giving hearts:

  1. Personalize thank you notes, phone calls and emails.
  2. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
  3. Recognize professional accomplishments, the addition of children and grandchildren, job changes and other personal events.
  4. Ask for their input and expertise.
  5. Be aware of their hobbies and interests.
  6. Know their business–what they do professionally, that is!
  7. Understand what it is about your organization that motivates them.
  8. Create appropriate connections–personal or written–between them and recipients of their generosity (e.g. scholarship recipients).
  9. Profile them and their gifts in your online or print newsletter.
  10. Recognize where and what they like to eat, including food restrictions.
  11. Respect their boundaries and sense of what is personal and private.
  12. Celebrate and recognize their support to other organizations.
  13. Remember where you left off from your last visit or conversation.
  14. Send appropriate holiday cards that celebrate their cultural heritage.
  15. Invite them to educational and festive events held by your organization.
  16. Cultivate them to serve in key volunteer roles for which they are uniquely qualified and interested.
  17. Ask them how and how often they would like you to communicate with them.
  18. Engage your CEO or Director in the relationship development process.
  19. Greet them with a warm smile, handshake or hug.
  20. Ask your Board Chair to thank them personally for their support.
  21. Acknowledge them and their gifts in local, statewide or national media outlets.
  22. Recognize them with a special award from your organization.
  23. Nominate them for local, statewide or national philanthropic awards.
  24. Provide transportation or other services if they have special needs.
  25. Know whether they like to be recognized or remain anonymous.
  26. Send a handwritten note.
  27. Give occasional and thoughtful gifts that remind them of your organization.
  28. Spell and pronounce their names correctly and know titles.
  29. Send photographs or newspaper clippings from a recent event.
  30. Share current updates and successes of the programs they fund.
  31. Be specific in telling them how your organization used their gifts.
  32. Send them a video thank you from staff and clients.
  33. Make their thank you public, such as with a named scholarship, fund or room.
  34. Give them a personal tour of your facility and programs in action.
  35. Say thank you or give a shout-out on Twitter.
  36. Thank them with handmade treats.
  37. Help them network with other people.
  38. Have a program staff person call them and provide updates on the agency’s work.
  39. Say thank you–again and again and again and again…
  40. Attach personal messages to direct mail.
  41. Invite donors to cultural, sporting or fun events in the area.
  42. Feature them in a story in your print or email newsletter, blog or FaceBook post.
  43. Ask for their advice.
  44. Include them in a feasibility study or organizational assessment.
  45. Invite them to private events or special opportunities.
  46. Appeal to them with an invitation to an intimate educational event.
  47. Listen to their concerns, interests and ideas.
  48. Prick up your ears and listen, listen, and listen some more.
  49. Be authentic.
  50. Thank you-bomb your donors–say thank you often and in multiple ways!

created by Amy FitzGerald, MSW, Senior Consultant, Eno River Consulting, http://www.enoriverconsulting.org

Power in Social Media

The ALS challenge or donate is a prime example of the power of social media. Philanthropy for the right cause is just a hashtag away! Creative uses of social media can connect you to potential donors. It reminds me of the movie “Pay it Forward”. Students were challenged to do an extraordinary deed for three people and then that person would do the same. Making a greater impact on society. Social media allows you to connect to others in the using the “Pay it Forward” model, but on a larger scale.

Social media allows you to communicate two ways with donors or people just interested in your cause. To bring awareness to your mission you can post to a variety of social media sites, the key is to get creative and find what works for your organization. The two way communication comes from retweeting and commenting on organizations that you follow or that follow you. Building relationships these days does not have to follow the traditional routes taken in the past.

Social media can work for you if your heart is in your mission. You want people to feel connected to your organization through images, videos, or inspiring stories. When using social media it also takes a little luck– and strategy — just like the ALS challenge, however there are people that are just a click away ready to take the challenge or donate!!

ERC is ready to work with your organization to tap into your passion and facilitate true expressions of yourself through social media in ways that catch on quickly.

Leadership driving Board and Staff Development

Like the functioning of the human body, there are many different essential parts to the functioning of an organization:  your strategy and strategic plan, work plans, human resource systems and practices, performance management plans, programs, volunteer engagement, public relations, media outreach and let’s not forget—fundraising.

There are so many distinct pieces that coordinate to provide synergy in your organization that a significant part of your work is developing a well-functioning organizational system to manage your systems.  This organizational system ensures that your work is relevant to current internal and external circumstances and that all systems are coordinated and working well.  This is a large shift for some nonprofit organizations to make, because often the human systems of the organization are working very hard to respond to daily need.

When various organizational pieces mentioned above are broken, it sometimes affects other systems and deteriorates system performance.  To sustain truly amazing performance, incredibly well, you must have the totality of those systems working and moving along smoothly at the same time.

The key purpose of a board of directors is to direct an organization’s affairs to meet the legitimate interests of its stakeholders.  To establish the organization’s culture and goals create the vision, mission, and values of the organization. 

  • Vision: A vision is a picture of the future and communicated in a way that motivates others to act.

A vision helps unite people towards a purpose. Possessing a vision means having the ability to create and effectively communicate a picture of the future that builds on a realistic understanding of the present.  A vision inspires!  Boards must advocate and help others to believe it.

  • Mission: is the overall purpose of an organization: what you do, who you do it for, and how and why you do it. It sets boundaries on the organization’s current activities.

A mission is unique to your organization and identifies what problems you solve or needs your fulfill.  Missions clearly define your social or community goals. 

  • Values: Values are the beliefs of an organization, the expression of what it stands for and how it will conduct itself.

Values are the core of an organization’s being, they help to distinguish this organization from others. They underpin policies, objectives, procedures and strategies because they provide an anchor and a reference point for all things that happen.

The successful vision, mission and values statement is created collaboratively and frames what the organization will look like.  Having a clear mission, vision, and values allows for strategy and policy to operate smoothly.

A successful vision, mission and values statement gives framework for the future, guides decision making and strategy, creates purpose, inspires, connects to values and provides guidelines that determine interactions.

As we’ve all had to learn the hard way, each person has a different communication style. Based on the needs of the individual you are conversing with, you must frame your message by considering format, diction, tone, duration, content, etc.  Reshaping a message to fit a specific audience isn’t a quality that comes naturally to everyone though, which is why communication skill training can be so helpful.  Everyone needs boundaries and rules for what is appropriate; in order for others to hear you, you must manage your own emotions so you can communicate from a grounded standpoint.  Many times we are so consumed by interpersonal issues that the real problems at hand are neglected.

Take time to focus your energy and deep commitment into the vision of the organization.  Studies have shown that teams who make use of mental models more frequently interact with one another, are more inspired and optimistic about work, and are more objective.

Creating a Collaborative Board and Staff

Effective board members dedicate time every year to improving their individual board skills and increasing their effectiveness in providing vision, oversight, support, and evaluation for nonprofit organizations.  A cohesive and collaborative board matches your organization’s immediate and strategic needs and is comprised of outstanding people who embrace your organization’s mission and can help you increase its performance and mission impact.

A great way to ignite effective team building is to give your board new opportunities to gain experiences together.  Create a sense of camaraderie among your members by providing ways to bond outside of the typical work environment.  Participate in activities together outside the office, bond with collaboration around your mutual cause during the holidays, have celebratory functions, volunteer together with your common cause –these types of interactions will give board and members the chance to relate, establish friendships, and learn about one another’s communication styles.  These engagements are illuminating and refreshing.  It is important for board and staff members to have quality time together and separately.

Overall it is important to have board members and staff that view the organization as interdependent teams, rather than individual workers.  Organizational development and team building are essential to increase board and staff effectiveness and to achieve strategic goals.  Creating a culture that is results-orientated takes strong leadership, clearly communicated goals and expectations, and a high level of commitment.

The development of a strong board is a valuable challenge that can dramatically increase an organization’s ability to achieve its mission.

 How can we help?

Gap Analysis

Eno River Consulting (ERC) can facilitate an objective assessment of your organization utilizing data from important stakeholder groups to provide a deep background and understanding of the organization with which you work from the internal and external perspective.  We are then able to utilize this data to create a blueprint for your organization to move forward to accomplish its goals in clear, customized and specific ways.   The more deeply we understand the challenges you face and landscape of the environment you work in, the more helpful we can be to you.

Mission, Vision, and Values Statement Development

Eno River Consulting can work with your board and staff on these critical foundational organizational guide posts.  

Executive Recruitment

Do you need new effective leadership for your organization?

Eno River Consulting can help recruit exceptional candidates to provide strong leadership for your organization.

Executive searches can be a time-consuming and stressful task. Our consultants have hired dozens of top leaders and managers and will guide you through the process, sharing their expertise, and assuring you get the right fit for your organization and its needs.

Eno River Consulting will help you identify key roles and responsibilities for the position, assist you in writing or revising your job description, get excellent candidates in the door, and support you during the screening, interviewing, and hiring process.

Succession Planning

How do you pass on institutional knowledge gained over years of running your organization and engaging with your community?

Eno River Consulting can help you identify key areas where your leaders hold invaluable knowledge and information, and develop a plan for “downloading” that knowledge. One piece of this is often pairing your developing leaders with those with the most organizational knowledge along with focused board development. This also requires building effective teams, with members who can step up, creating a culture that thrives, and creating expectations and common understanding about execution.

 

 

For more information on any of these services please visit our website:

http://www.enoriverconsulting.org

919.234.7281

Looking for Supporters in the Right Place

Inner Circle

Many nonprofits feel alone. You work hard, are limited by available resources which often don’t meet a growing demand, and you have the challenge of both managing an organization, and running multiple programs to provide services. To carry out your mission, you need to do all of these things well.

So where are the supporters who can help you carry out your mission? The people who care about your issue may not know about your organization. But by using targeted, data-driven strategies, a good consulting firm can facilitate introductions of your organization to its most likely supporters in the community you serve.

You can also get support in creating prioritized, actionable relationships with people on your current database who clearly care deeply about your organization. Your organization may not be seeing how strong a champion and supporter some of your current supporters could be, with the right cultivation. Relationship-building takes time and intent, and there are a series of steps to take, but you already have invaluable relationships. The key is to recognize them, and then take the next steps to gain even more support for your mission.

Eno River Consulting can help you grow your inner circle significantly, and help your inner circle interact and engage with your organization in highly personalized ways. This way you can accept the many contributions that they want to share with you, on their terms. Relationships, time, and money are shared freely when people and organizations support you and have a clear path to engage.

Keep in mind this helps your organization, but you are also providing something of great value to your supporters. You are simultaneously connecting them to the community, and through engaging with your group, you are giving them a vehicle that supports their own values and priorities. There are people all around you who care for the same mission you exist to serve. Together your mission will take root in the world.

Shift your attention away from your programs for the moment, and focus on the true intent of your organization. This is what other people care about – the people, the animals, the art, the education, etc. Your inner circle includes corporations, government, and major donors – even if you don’t know who they are yet – because you and those entities have shared values and goals. These individuals and organizations have an infinite capacity to help you advance the mission of your organization.  Without them on board, you will forever be Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill.  With them, you can truly fulfill your mission in a larger way than you may believe is possible.

“So, where is my inner circle?”

They are in whatever geographic area you serve.  They already exist, but they won’t engage until you talk with them. And they will only stay and grow their involvement when you 1) relate to them the way they expect, and 2)  maintain communication with them in the way that works for them.

“I have too much to do already with my existing inner circle.  The staff, the board…there is so much to do.”

Yes, you have a lot to do. But, consider seeing your organization as two different, yet parallel, organizations.  One organization exists to ensure that your programs and activities are driving the results you want on that front.  The other track (or organization) exists solely to connect others to your mission and to communicate effectively with them about the ways they can help you. This second track facilitates the involvement of supporters in all the ways that help you achieve the solutions to the issues your mission focuses on. This may look like connecting people with volunteer opportunities in your nonprofit, and at other times it may include higher-level conversations around policy or culture. A good, strategic consultant will help you to think very “big-picture” and create a plan for connecting with your expanding inner circle in a variety of ways to draw supporters in and keep them engaged and invested.

What does the future look like with the inner circle?

The right people are just outside your doorstep. You have the resources you need, and you know where to go. People are helping you with your vision, and their assistance means your perspective is consequently greater than what you can visualize on your own. You see more opportunities and take advantage of relationships and issues you may not have seen on your own, and didn’t have the time or connections to develop alone. Money comes from places you didn’t see before, and other people have helped you ask for it. And your ability to achieve your mission expands exponentially because people are helping you by bringing opportunities, and by doing key pieces of the work.

 

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