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Whether it’s the for-profit, or nonprofit sector, gender imbalance is still a significant issue in the workplace. It continues to hold both women, and men, back from achieving their full potential in the office and at home.

Evidence of the impact of gender imbalance abounds. Men continue to hold a majority of leadership positions within most organisations. Discrimination in the form of unequal pay for equal work, stereotypes, and inflexible attitudes that penalise those who care for children, the elderly and the infirm continue to hold sway in the workplace.

While women need to continue to push for more opportunities to lead so that they can gain the experience that is necessary to prepare them for greater access to board rooms and the c-suite, men have an important role to play in increasing diversity. The following are a few ways that male allies can stand with their female counterparts to make the workplace more open, inclusive, diverse and productive.

Encourage Fairness and Equality

Gender equality isn’t just an issue that affects women, gender inequality affects men also, as well as our children and society as a whole. Encourage the men and women in your organisation to build strong interpersonal working relationships, free of bias and discrimination, particularly as it applies to communication and job performance.

Push for greater mutual respect, cooperation and collaboration within your organisation by encouraging men and women to share the responsibility for job duties regardless of gender.  Adopt a zero tolerance policy in regards to open and covert discrimination and inequality.

Walk the Talk

Many organisations talk about the need for greater gender balance in the workplace, and yet, they continue to leave in place practices and policies that contain both overt and covert gender bias. Encourage men and women of all ages, backgrounds and levels of power in your organisation to challenge the status quo and to speak out and work together to bring about change.

Key equality issues that should be examined include how tasks and roles are assigned and how decisions are made within your nonprofit. Pay, and time away from work are additional equality issues that should matter to everyone, not just women.

Is Caring Just for Women?

Fathers, children and our society all benefit when men have more time to spend with their offspring as they are growing and developing. Childcare isn’t just for women. Your NFP can encourage gender equality away from work by offering flexible schedules for caregivers of both genders.

Parental and family leave policies should be examined for gender bias, and changes made to ensure that fair practices are put into place that allow both men and women to contribute to their communities.

When a new nonprofit first forms, the budget is likely to be very lean. Startups typically struggle during this phase as they begin to organise and recruit the initial team, define their mission and develop their strategic plans.

Resources are typically scarce during this stage as new nonprofits often struggle to bring in enough funds to cover their overhead and finance their service projects. Unfortunately, many nonprofits feel pressure to continue to keep staffing and overhead costs overly low, even once they have secured their finances and reached sustainable growth.

The High Cost of Shortchanging Development When Controlling Overhead

While it is important to take steps to ensure that funds are wisely spent in any organisation, keeping too tight of a rein on overhead can prevent nonprofits from investing in recruiting top talent, building infrastructure and expanding their capacity. In the end, this penny-pinching strategy shortchanges the nonprofit’s prospects for long-term growth.

The Importance of Building Capacity to Support the Mission

Service programs need resources if they are to be effective. Your nonprofit’s infrastructure needs to be able to provide the support that programs need so that they can be executed and operate properly and advance your mission.

For example, you might allocate extra funds and build your capacity by upgrading your hardware and software so that you can expand social media efforts and increase outreach through additional upgrades to your website and expanding your email marketing. Other ways to increase capacity include hiring a developmental director to assist with developing a comprehensive, financial strategy, and creating a more unified approach to fundraising for your nonprofit.

Convincing Your Board and Donors that Capacity Building is Worthwhile

A capacity building plan can help you to convince your board, donors and other supporters that it is necessary to raise funds specifically to increase your NFP’s capacity. Deciding which areas of your organisation need to be improved to increase the level of service that you provide is the first step of creating a capacity building plan.

Once you have decided on what areas can be improved with additional funds, come up with a timetable of how and when the funds will be spent. Define how your organisation’s impact will be changed and increased as a result of spending in each particular area.

Regardless of which area your nonprofit decides to build up to increase its capacity to support the mission, the important thing for boards and donors to understand is that this is money that is well spent. It is money that is necessary to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your organisation.

We all have bad days – it’s part and parcel of business. But when they happen, they can be extremely frustrating.

Stay Positive

The first thing you must do is to try to keep your positive attitude for as long as possible. It is easier to dwell on the negative and even begin to feel sorry for yourself, but that can seriously zap your creativity. Focus on the positive side every chance you get. Consider what has gone right and what you have managed to accomplish to date.

Be Grateful

Focus on things which are going well. You might have lost a major sponsor, or something didn’t go as well as planned, but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. If you are really struggling, then write your gratitude points down to remind yourself of the great things that are happening in your life.

Make Plans

While you might not be able to fix the problem immediately, do something today to remedy the situation. Even taking little steps such as making notes to help you work toward rectifying what went wrong can have a huge difference on your attitude. You can change the situation – take a few deep breaths and move forward.

Be Realistic

While erring on the side of positivity is your aim, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Having unreal expectations can only cause you more unhappiness in the future. Rewrite your narrative, so you gain some control back in your day.

Learn From It

Once you have managed to put it all behind you, then you need to reflect on it. Learn from the mistakes that were made by your organisation and take solid steps so it does not happen again in the future. Understanding the missteps will help you stay on track and achieve your goals.

Your attitude will determine how long it will take you to bounce back from the situation. A smile, a positive attitude and small goals will help you see that you can overcome the hurdle and show the world you mean business.

innovationWhen most of us hear the word innovation, we likely think of the creation of new products and services. The true meaning of innovation, however, isn’t limited to the invention of new things that no one has seen or dreamed of in the past.

The word innovation comes from the Latin word innovare. Meanings of this term include to “make a change from established routines and practices or to restore or renew something that already exists”. Innovative NFPs find ways to increase communication and successful relationship building with multiple stakeholders so that more individuals come to understand and support the nonprofit’s vision.

The following are some strategies that innovative organisations use to sharpen their focus and gather supporters to help them change either the entire world, or, at least their corner of the world.

Innovative NFPs Create and Maintain Communities

Forward thinking nonprofits can multiply their efforts, and increase their results, by focusing on the human element and seeking ways to connect with others. These organisations focus on communication to raise awareness and donations, building networks of like-minded individuals who come together to participate in the organisation’s projects.

Get Up!, is one Australian nonprofit that relies on its community of supporters and network of strategists to bring attention to environmental, civil rights and other social justice issues and effect change. Since its founding nearly a decade ago, the organisation’s supporters have raised billion in mental healthcare funding, and prevented the opening of new major coal mines that harm the Great Barrier Reef and other parts of the ecosystem.

Forward Minded NFPs are Open to Change and Experimentation

Charities and associations that are the most successful in terms of fundraising, and their ability to provide services to their communities, tend to not rest on their laurels. Rather than being content with doing things the way “they have always been done in the past,” the most innovative NFPs are open to trying new ways of doing things.

For example, rather than relying on traditional fundraising events to raise money, such as direct mail appeals, raffles and auctions, the Movember organisation utilises social media to raise awareness and donations via crowdfunding.

Since 2003, the organisation has issued challenges to raise awareness about prostate cancer and other health issues that primarily affect men. Some of the more unique events include volunteers growing a mustache during November. Supporters can also participate in physical challenges such as running a marathon or climbing a wall and then share their results on social media to encourage others to donate and get involved.

From its humble beginnings in a bar in Melbourne in 2003, this Australian charity has grown to now include chapters all around the globe. As of 2015, over $770 Million Australian dollars have been raised since the NFP’s founding, and over 1,200 projects that support men’s health have been funded.

NFPs with an Innovative Mindset Use Confidence to Power Change

While building a community of supporters, and experimenting with novel approaches to fundraising can make it easier for your nonprofit to accomplish its mission, willpower and confidence also play a powerful role in the success of your efforts. Being able to remain upbeat, positive and determined in the face of overwhelming odds can help your organisation continue to push for change and achieve results.

An example of this is the good work done by the Fred Hollows Foundation whose mission is to end preventable, treatable blindness in Australia and around the world. Each year, millions of people all around the world lose their sight, but 4 out of 5 of these individuals have a preventable, or treatable, cause of blindness.

The nonprofit continues the good work started by eye surgeon Dr. Fred Hollows, and is primarily focused on raising money to train doctors and other healthcare professionals, provide medical facilities, equipment, and antibiotics and continuing to perform sight-saving operations.

According to the foundation, “Our work won’t stop until the injustice of avoidable blindness is completely eradicated in Australia and in the rest of the world. We believe, without a doubt, this will one day be accomplished.” Since its founding, the organisation’s determination and focus have enabled them to restore the sight of over 2 million individuals around the world.

Is your nonprofit making progress towards its goals, is the completion of your mission in sight, or, is something holding your organisation back from achieving its peak performance? If you’re not quite hitting the mark for your fundraising and other goals, it’s probably time to look for ways to shake things up and try something new!

Running a charity in today’s modern business world can be very problematic, as can achieving positive and long-term financial strength. However, despite all the complex issues which need to be overcome, it is of course, very rewarding. Here are some of the challenges facing NFPs today.

Governance issues

Governance can be a very large issue for NFPs. A nonprofit is entirely different from a for-profit business as the board, CEO and stakeholders need to be taken into account for every decision that is made. And then there are the government rules and regulations on top of that. Unlike a for-profit organisation, the board members have a large say in what goes on. A trustee has the huge task of catering to every demand and is personally liable for every decision and action they take.

Sourcing talent

To be the best at what you do, you need the best team members to help you achieve it. But this can be hard from a non-profit’s perspective, particularly with low budgets and high salary expectations. Mentoring top talent can take time and money. And as many staff come to nonprofits with very little experience and then leave once they have developed their skills, it can be very difficult to retain them for the long-term.

New NFPs can struggle

As new NFPs enter the marketplace, it can be a struggle for them to keep up with the more established and larger sized charities. It can be difficult for them to take risks and they don’t have the reputation to gain the support of donors and supporters. Until they grow, small NFPs can experience many frustrations, and many often close before they are even given a chance to succeed properly.

Educating the public

Charities have changed a lot over the years, and for the most part, the general public isn’t even aware of what a charity represents. They are unsure as to who is paid and unpaid and overestimate how much money goes into issues such as fundraising and administration. Education needs to be a big part in leading the way for change in this area.

Demonstrating impact

While there is a lot in the news about charities – which ones are actually succeeding in their goals? Which charity is doing a great job? And how are they representing their success to the general public? Demonstrating your impact in a successful way is one of the best ways you can increase your donations and support. But achieving that successfully can be one of the biggest issues any charity can face.

This list is not necessarily exhaustive but as you move forward, it is important to note that transparency and communication are a great way to overcome these and many other issues that your NFP may come across.

The NFP industry requires charities and non-profits to be transparent in their actions. This transparency puts a large amount of focus on trust, confidence and the reputation of the charity as a whole. Often the donor requests and fundraising successes rest wholeheartedly on the reputation of the charity, and there is a lot of competition in the industry to garner support, especially from the larger organisations.

NFPs that tend to be successful in their charitable efforts can not only demonstrate their best practice governance but also communicate it effectively. All NFPs and even for-profit businesses need to manage their reputation on a regular basis. It is critical to the successful operation of the non-profit and to develop positive connections with stakeholders, donors, members, government bodies and the general public.

What exactly is reputation management?

Reputation management covers the building up and the monitoring of your brand through your efforts in media promotion and marketing. A health check enables you to look at your marketing efforts and responses to understand where your vulnerabilities lie and where you can further develop your promotional opportunities.

Auditing for risk is something that every business should do on a regular basis. It is better to create forward plans rather than panic when an issue occurs, and your organisation is forced into crisis mode. Draft out some scenarios and work out some helpful strategies that will enable you to be able to control the outcome more closely.

From a social media perspective, while it is easier to communicate directly with donors and supporters, it is also easier for NFPs to be targeted with negative comments, whether fair or irrational. Knowing this is half the battle.

How do people perceive your business?

How do stakeholders view your NFP? How does the general public see your business? Are you different from other charities working in a similar field? If you are not able to answer these questions, then you may be missing value opportunities for your NFP to safeguard and develop your brand. Talk to your donors and sponsor to get real insights on your efforts to help you develop more effective strategies and marketing efforts for the long-term. Your ability to not be able to effectively understand your competitors can also affect you negatively. Know where your strengths are to be able you to stand out from the crowd and gain the confidence of the general public.

How can you manage your online reputation?

Here are some tips to help you manage your online reputation.

  • Be objective when it comes to your website. Consider whether it is easy to navigate or find relevant information. Are the contact details up to date and accessible?
  • Review your social media and online strategies. Let employees and volunteers know what they can and cannot do on social media.
  • How is your organisation represented on third party websites? Do a search and see where you can improve your profiles and online representations.
  • Allow plenty of opportunities for members, interested stakeholders, volunteers and employees to give you regular feedback.
  • Set up alerts to monitor the internet for organisational content so you can keep on top of who might be saying what.

Once you understand how your NFP is seen, you can then make steps to direct the chatter. Be proactive with your efforts so you can ensure your organisation can fulfill its mission and ultimately increase support and contributions from others.

Fundraising campaigns are one of the most significant sources of funding for most nonprofits. Most fundraising events are not without cost, however.

Preparing a budget for special fundraising events helps nonprofits avoid overspending, especially if their event does not raise an amount equal to or greater than its fundraising goal.

The Importance of Setting a Large Enough Fundraising Goal

When making plans for your nonprofit’s next fundraiser, it’s important to set an appropriate amount as your fundraising goal. This goal should be realistic; it should be an amount that your nonprofit can reasonably expect to raise during the event.

Your fundraising goal should also be for an amount that is large enough to cover all of the costs and expenses associated with the event. In addition to this amount, you will want to add a net sum that is left over after all of the costs are paid. This net sum should be large enough that it justifies the time and effort that is put into hosting the event.

The Importance of Creating a Detailed Budget Specifically for the Event

You should create a separate, completed budget that lists each expense that will arise as a result of hosting the event. This list should be thorough, and highly detailed to help you avoid under budgeting.

When creating your budget, look at the history of past, similar fundraising events held by your nonprofit. Look at the types of costs that were incurred, as well as the amounts that you have raised during these events. Can your nonprofit reasonably expect to spend a similar amount, or, have costs increased in one or more categories? Determining the answers to these questions can help you avoid underestimating the actual expenditure.

At the very least, your budget should include the cost to rent the venue for the event, as well as unique items related to the location. For example, will your nonprofit need to rent extra tables and seats or other items and equipment to hold the event at the designated location? Be certain to include realistic estimates for these items in your budget.

Catering, staffing, creating and sending invitations, security, transportation, VIP accommodations,  entertainment, ticketing, fundraising software, marketing materials, promotional and gift items/event swag are all typical expenses associated with special fundraising events, so be certain that you include these and any other costs in your budget.

Don’t Forget to Plan for the Unexpected and Include it in Your Budget

It’s also a good idea to include a built-in “cushion” in your budget to help your nonprofit be able to cover the cost of unforeseen events to help you make certain that your nonprofit has enough funds to cover the cost of the event.

Use Caution When Attempting to Cut Costs

Many nonprofits are still feeling the pinch from the global economic downturn of a few years ago, and remain short of funding, especially given the resulting cuts in Federal monies in the form of grants that many nonprofits relied upon. If your nonprofit is struggling financially, it can be tempting to cut corners to reduce spending. While reining in expenses is important, it’s equally important to avoid cutting quality.

For example, you don’t want to skimp and not spend enough on marketing, and word fails to get out about your event. You also want to make certain that you choose reliable vendors for the venue, catering, and so on. Just because one vendor offers a lower price, doesn’t mean that you can depend on them to deliver on time. Make certain that you still check references and look at past histories in addition to price when comparing services and creating your budget.

Accurately budgeting for your special event is an important part of ensuring your nonprofit’s financial stability. Don’t forget the traditional fundraising metrics such as net revenues and costs to raise when hosting your event, and preserve this information to help you more accurately forecast the budget for your nonprofit’s next special event.