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Your email list is one of the best resources you have. It consists of people who may have volunteered, are considering volunteering or are interested in your charity. That is why it is important to make the most of this method to boost the number of volunteers you have assisting your organisation.

Keep it short and to the point

While you make think a lengthy email is better, try to communicate all the information you have in one brief request. In today’s age, email holders are often overwhelmed with the number of emails that appear in their inbox. Keep it simple and to the point.

Emphasise the good they can do

Don’t just tell them what they can do, let them know how much they will be helping others by giving up their time. People volunteer to make a difference in the community, so demonstrate that in your email as much as possible.

Showcase the benefits

Volunteering can also teach individuals new skills which will often look good on their resume. Point these skills out to the reader so they understand that by giving up their time, they will also gain skills which can they can use to further their full-time positions or other volunteering positions in the future.

Personalise the email

Add the recipient’s name to the email so that there is a higher opportunity of them even reading it in the first place. It will increase your chances of being noticed and getting your message out there to your audience. Personalisation can increase the average open rate of non-profit emails to increase above the standard 25% to closer to 30%.

Add images to brighten their inbox

If your email text is all words, then your readers will likely skim over it and miss the important points. Add some interesting pictures so they can see at a glance what your charity represents and how they can help you individually. It will keep their attention for slightly longer and give you a fighting chance to gain extra volunteers.

Convey a sense of immediacy

Let your prospective volunteers know that it is important that they respond as quickly as possible. You don’t want to hear from prospects two months after your email goes out. Let them know that interest will need to be provided as soon as possible so you can move on to the next steps of the volunteer recruitment process.

These are all helpful tips to ensure that your email has more chance of being read, let alone acted upon. One bonus tip which you will find especially useful is to keep it real. Show your charity’s personality and aim through your email without trying to be something that you are not. Authenticity is extremely important in maintaining quality connections with your readers, your volunteers and the general public.

Being a volunteer treasurer can be a huge responsibility, and during your most busy periods, you may find yourself struggling with the workload. Being able to manage your time efficiently becomes more important than ever, especially when you have finance issues and reports looming.

Here are some tips and tricks we garnered from other volunteer treasurers.

Skip the occasional meeting

While some meetings are important for you to attend, some meetings can be dealt with by a treasurer representative. Send someone on your behalf so you can catch up with your workload. They can then report back with anything that needs actioning.

Work from home

If you face a long commute or are juggling the hours between work and home, perhaps there are tasks which can be carried out at home. If you can access your finances on the cloud, then you may find that a lot of your workload can be handled directly from your home office.

Schedule your day

Without a set schedule, you have more chance of your time getting away from you. Plan to do specific tasks at set times. Check all emails first thing in the morning and then don’t check again until later in the day.

Work an early morning shift to get stuff done

If you can, plan for early morning periods where you can work uninterrupted. You may be surprised at just how much work you can get done at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Try not to make a habit of it, of course, but a few hours of working alone can do wonders for your overall schedule.

Rely on help from others

In truth, you cannot do it all. That is where colleagues and volunteers can come in handy. Seek help from quality staff who are as dedicated to the task as you are and who can help clear some tasks from your inbox. Delegate every opportunity you get.

Say no if necessary

It is important that you say no to some of the many requests that land on your desk. Just like you don’t have to attend every meeting, you also don’t have to go to every luncheon or do every bit of research that is asked of you. Prioritise your personal tasks, so you don’t stretch yourself too thinly.

Set time limits for volunteers

Volunteers may have issues and wish to discuss their problems with you. Let them know at the beginning of the meeting that you can only spare 5 or 10 minutes and keep to that time limit. Meetings can easily overrun and take up the majority of your office time.

Remember, it is your time. Being firm with your time limits and sticking to your main responsibilities is in your best interests. It will allow you to manage your workload more effectively and minimise the number of hours you work overtime.

We see it time and time again. Costly PR campaigns are created and fail to gain an emotional connection with their viewers.

If you want to increase your donor funds and gain more supporters, it is imperative you tell a story that connects with your readers. Simple facts, while interesting, are just not good enough for today’s modern donors.

It doesn’t matter which way you turn; you will be undoubtedly bombarded with marketing. Magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, bus station advertising, television advertising, radio advertising – all of these ads are fighting for your attention. Which campaigns are you likely to remember? The one that tells a story – the one that has something to say – the one that isn’t trying to sell you a product but rather an experience.

Using storytelling to represent your brand allows your audience to see behind the scenes. It takes them past the desks of the marketers and into the lives of the volunteers making a real difference in society. You can be more than just a name or a brand – you can show your human side to draw them in and elicit an emotion. This is a wonderful way to gain customer loyalty, especially in the long term. Your audience is after an authentic story that resonates with them – they want to be part of an organisation that really makes a difference.

As you define your brand through clever storytelling, you can also give it a personality. This personality should, of course, be representative of your overall mission and values. It is through your storytelling that you can develop and build on a relationship with your target audience. Those that feel a bond with your brand will not only give; they will in all likelihood be wonderful advocates for your NFP and share your information with friends and family.

Stories also stick in our memories the most. Remember all those fairy tales and nursery rhymes with moral messages at the end? Of course you do – stories stay with us, over and above everything else.

So go out there and tell your story. Creativity above everything else is a must in your next PR or marketing campaign. The power of words can be truly magical.

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Accountability can mean different things to many people. While the dictionary meaning denotes responsibility, being accountable means understanding the need to be open and honest to the volunteers, the staff and the general public. So how can you ensure this occurs within your NFP?

Deal with things as they occur

There is no truer test of an organisation than when trouble occurs. And the strength comes from being able to face any issue head on without fear or compromise. This will demonstrate your total commitment to identifying and solving potential problems whatever they happen to be.

Maintain a positive public perception

As board members are the public persona of the company, they need to be held accountable at all times. They should be measured to the highest standard of conduct and reprimanded when they do not meet these levels. There are no favourites when it comes to poor conduct within the board of directors or other staff members.

Share NFP finances openly

What do you have to hide? Audited financial statements should be shared among the board members and made available online to comply with best practices. Investors will be particularly keen to see that the non-profit is open about the way they do business and follow action plans to a “T”.

Set clear guidelines and adhere to them

NFPs must stick to a set of clearly laid out guidelines to ensure that they are operating within the rules. If the rules are not specified in detail, then it is hard to determine whether the charity is working fully within its parameters. Clarify your guidelines for ease now to avoid problems in the future.

Donors, individuals and volunteers want to see the integrity of your NFP. When they notice the self-policing that goes on within the internal structure of your charity to meet the above issues, then they are more likely to trust you. Trust and commitment are paramount when it comes to forming relationships with potential donors and gaining their long-term attention.

thank-you-2011012_640When it comes to receiving donations, saying thank you should be high on your priority list. In an interesting study carried out by Parachute Digital Marketing last year, they discovered that most charities were not taking the time to say thank you.

Their longitudinal study also showed that less than 20% of thank you pages were personalised with the donor’s names and 10% of NFPs were still manually processing payments and sending out the receipts via the postal system.

Thank you may be just two words, but it can make the difference between how someon views your charity. These two little words are what stands between your one-time donors become repeat donors. Spend a little time crafting your thank you so it comes from the heart, yet remains on a professional level to reflect your charity. Show your gratitude to demonstrate how much you truly value your donors and their contributions. Explain how the money will be used clearly and concisely.

With a non-profit, your gratitude should go above and beyond a simple thank you. Acknowledge their kindness and caring nature and thank them for taking action to support your cause. While the majority of your donors may only give once, many will have it in the back of their mind to give in the future. Nonprofit Hub claims that 13% of donors stop giving to a non-profit purely on the fact that they did not say thank you. It may only be 13%, but every donation is important.

Your website should be set up to immediately thank the donors for giving. Following the donation, an email should be sent to acknowledge the donor’s kind nature. It might be prudent to send out a secondary email part way through the project to demonstrate the progress or a series of emails depending on the length of the project. It is this attention to detail that will entice them to give again in the future. You can also go so far as to thank them on your website or your social media pages. It is actions like these that will encourage others to follow suit.

There are many ways you can say thank you. If you feel like mixing it up, you might want to consider recording a custom made video message or sending a greeting card or personalised postcard.

Showing your gratitude is one of the most important things your NFP can do. Whether it is coming from a volunteer or the board, always remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” Wise words to live by!

approved-29149_640With only a limited number of grants available, most nonprofits face significant competition in getting their grant applications approved. Limited funding is not the only reason why some nonprofits are declined when they apply for grants and other sources of public money.

Sometimes, organisations themselves may be their own worst enemy when it comes to getting their request approved. The following checklist can help your nonprofit increase the likelihood that their application for funding will win approval.

Does Your NFP Follow the Rules?

Most organisations and institutions that offer grants and endowments have a list of instructions for the applications, as well as specific reporting requirements and deadlines. A surprising number of NFPs fail to take the time to read, understand and then comply with these instructions which can frustrate program advisers, grant committee members and others involved with the approval process.

Even something as simple as failing to reply to a request for additional information, to complete a survey, or to provide other feedback can decrease the likelihood that your grant application will be approved or renewed, so be certain to follow all of the rules and instructions and submit all materials in a timely fashion.

Did You Use All Prior Funds Before Applying for a Renewal?

Since available funds are indeed, limited, your nonprofit is less likely to be approved for a renewal of funding if your organisation has not already used all of the funds from your last grant before you apply for renewal. It’s also important for nonprofits to be able to show in their application how any funds from other grants have been spent, and how these funds directly impact their ability to deliver services and fulfil their mission.

Do You Take time to Build Relationships with Program Advisors?

Most organisations that offer grants, endowments and other similar types of funding provide a program advisor or officer that acts as a liaison between the grant bearing entity and nonprofits that apply for grants. Make certain that your nonprofit promptly responds to any requests for information from the program advisor on a timely basis, and always follow up with the designated advisor whenever you have questions about the grant process.

It’s also a good idea for nonprofit’s to follow up with their advisor throughout the year to strengthen their bonds as well as to ensure that they stay abreast of any upcoming changes to the grant making process.

Do You Proofread and Provide Complete, Accurate and Honest Information in Applications?

Finally, it’s always a good idea to go back over your application, as well as any other supplementary information that you provide, before you submit your nonprofit’s application. Take the time to proofread to check your spelling and grammar for mistakes. Make certain to check that all of the facts, data and other information that you have included in your application are complete, relevant, and correct! It’s very important that your organisation be honest in the application and give honest, fair opinions, evaluations and details about the nature of your nonprofit, the challenges that your nonprofit faces, and your specific plans for the money if funds are granted.

Before submitting the application go back over the requirements provided by the entity that is accepting applications and make certain that this grant, and the organisation that is providing the grant, are a good fit for your nonprofit. Also, it’s a good idea not to wait until the last minute to file, but try to submit your grant proposal and application as early as possible to show that your organisation is responsible, and is planning ahead.

conference-1886025_640Having a successful board meeting involves a bit more planning and effort than simply setting a date and time, crossing your fingers and hoping that everyone shows up.

The following are a few steps to take to ensure that your board’s next meeting is a successful one.

Use the Agenda to Determine Length and Location

While some planners begin their preparations by deciding on the venue, or actual duration of the meeting first, it might be a better idea to allow the agenda itself to be the starting point.

An agenda is simply a formal, written list of the activities that are planned to occur at your board’s meeting. Most agendas will start with a call to order, or roll call, and will end with the formal adjournment. In between this, the specific items of business that the board plans to discuss and act upon are listed.

Sometimes, if there are a large number of items to get through, some boards adopt a consent agenda, so that important items that have already been discussed can be approved with one vote.

The number of items on your board’s agenda, and the amount of time that each is expected to take, usually determines the actual length of your board’s meeting. Sometimes, the planned length of your session will also affect your board’s choice of location for the meeting. For example, if your board only meets a handful of times a year, it may be better for your meeting to be set to occur over a few days. It could even be held in conjunction with a hotel, so that board members can be certain of having a place to stay and rest. Choosing a location that is centrally located for most of your members is usually the best option when the meeting is scheduled to last several hours or more than one day.

Other boards may meet on a monthly basis, and discuss items frequently, so these meetings may only need to last an hour or so to cover all of the topics that need to be considered and acted upon. In these cases the meeting could reasonably be held on site at your nonprofit’s main offices. This is especially a good choice if your nonprofit has the resources to make teleconferencing available to board members that might live some distance away from the meeting’s location.

By allowing the length of the agenda to be a guiding factor when planning your board’s next meeting, you can choose a length and place for the meeting that will be more convenient for your board members. This increases the chances that more of your members will show up for the meeting and enjoy their service on the board.

Remember that Board Members are Only Human

When planning your board’s next meeting, it’s important to keep in mind that your NFP’s board members have needs. It’s also a good idea to offer and serve the appropriate meals when meetings are scheduled to occur over several hours or days. Even when it is expected to last just an hour or two, offering light refreshments is a good way to help members maintain their energy and attention levels during the meeting.

In addition to meals and snacks, it’s also important to schedule time for board members to meet and socialise before and during the meeting if it is expected to last for several hours or days. This way, your members get a chance to know one another as individuals, which reduces the chances of misunderstandings and other conflicts and increases their ability to cooperate and collaborate with one another.

Allow the NFP’s Chair to Set the Pace

Regardless of the number of items on your board’s agenda, or the length and location of the meeting, it’s important that your NFP’s chairperson is ready to set and control the pace of the meeting. This needs to happen so that board members don’t get bogged down in too many details. This will also ensure that the meeting doesn’t drag out too long, and the work that needs to be done is accomplished.

While you want your chair to encourage open discussion, your chair needs to be able to facilitate communication while also controlling its flow and length. If your chairperson is new to the role, it may be a good idea for your chair to attend training on how to conduct and preside over board meetings. This will help them understand actions that they can take to ensure that members stay on task and that the meeting flows smoothly.

Help Board Members to Prepare for the Meeting

One important way that you can ensure that progress is made during your board’s meetings is to make sure that all of your members are well-prepared. Make certain that you provide board members with the reports and other materials that they need well before the meeting is scheduled to take place, and encourage them to do their homework on the issues before the meeting occurs.