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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.

social mediaNearly 7% of all of the donations that nonprofits receive comes from online sources, but harnessing the power of the Internet and Social Media tends to be less about collecting money and more about increasing interest in your NFP.

While social media is a great way to share stories about your nonprofit and strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, there are downfalls to using the platform. The following is a list of some common pitfalls that nonprofit’s experience when they rely too heavily on social media channels to spread their message.

It’s Expensive

Advertising on social media isn’t free, and even though Facebook and other social media platforms sometimes offer discounts, click-thru ads, sponsored posts and other marketing campaigns, it can be still extremely expensive.

NFPs must control costs by using tools that allow them to test messages, manage start and kill dates for ads, and set budgets to keep an eye on ad costs to make social media campaigns worthwhile.

Many Social Media Channels Offer Low ROI

It would be easier to justify expensive advertising on social media if these campaigns at least generated high returns on this investment. But, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t. Facebook offers the ability to connect, like and share with nonprofits, as well as the capacity to donate directly, and yet only provides a 3% increase in reach.

Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, make it easy to like photos and gain followers, who seldom, if ever, react to direct calls to action made on the platform. Snapchat’s ROI is even worse, as it doesn’t allow online donations directly from its app and nonprofits can’t even share a link to their website.

Despite the low returns on the time and money invested in social media, it’s still a great way to increase awareness about the good work that nonprofit accomplish. You can start conversations with others about the difference specific nonprofits are making in their communities, as an example.

NFPs should keep their objectives in mind, use targeting and segmentation to make certain that they are reaching the correct audience with their messages and set realistic goals when creating their social media marketing campaigns.

Focusing on Social Media Makes it Easy to Forget about Other Ways to Connect with Supporters

While social media seems to be all the rage these days, direct appeals and calls to action made on a nonprofit’s website, as well as in emails, newsletters and direct mail cost less to create and still generate most of the donations that are received by nonprofits.

NFPs that focus exclusively on social media marketing are likely missing out on ways to connect and raise funds that are less expensive and that offer a much higher return on the cost that is invested.

Trolls and Depressing News can Damage Social Media Marketing Efforts

Not every visitor to your nonprofit’s social media accounts is there to connect and share with you in a positive, meaningful manner. There are individuals who surf the Internet looking to join in on conversations with the deliberate intention to create as much chaos and ill will as possible.

Sometimes in the comments section and elsewhere, visitors may share depressing news or memes that feature disturbing text or images. NFPs must take care to monitor and moderate their social media accounts to protect the reputation of the NFP. Care must also be taken when responding to potentially negative or offensive posts to avoid encouraging or “feeding” trolls.

Social media is a great way to increase awareness about your NFP’s mission. The high cost of social media marketing campaigns, and the low returns that they offer, means that most non-profits should continue to include other more traditional methods of communication and fundraising in their strategic marketing plans in addition to their social media marketing efforts.

apple-desk-laptop-workingContinual learning and education are important regardless of what your role entails. It enables you to push and motivate yourself so you can engage more fully in your position, non-profit or otherwise.

Education, in any form, is vital to both your personal and professional life and can help in your future success stories. Showing an eagerness to learn and ability to increase your knowledge is very exciting to many employees and NFPs.

Did you know that there are many free educational opportunities out there? And did you know many of these are suitable for volunteer treasurers and NFPs?

Each year, NFP advocates and individuals offer free webinars on subjects specifically relevant to charities and not for profits. They can be a valuable source of information, particularly when they impart knowledge that can have enormous benefits to your organisation.

Learning from others who have gone before you is a great asset to your career path. Why make mistakes which can affect your fundraising ability or cost your NFP money when you can follow the advice of other fundraisers and charity workers? And as much of the work you do is relevant only to the NFP niche, it makes it even more advantageous to take advantage of these offers when they appear.

So what’s in store for January? Here are a handful of exciting webinars to get you started. Bear in mind that many webinars are offered live rather than as a recording, so you may need to set a reminder in order that you don’t miss these and other similar events.

The 7 Fundamentals of a Monthly Giving Program – January 12, 2017

In this 30 minute webinar, you will learn how to recognise monthly donors, how to set your ask amounts, how to present results and how to plan for growth.

10 Signs Your NGO Excels at Social Media – January 18, 2017

This live webinar will show real case examples of how to use images and video to increase engagement, how to inspire your donors to give as a result of social media and how to format online news and blog content for maximum effectiveness.

Finding New Donors for 2017 – January 18, 2017

This webinar will take you through new places to find donors, how to build your email list, cultivation tips to keep your existing donors and fast ways to thank your donors.

As technology changes and develops, so does the demands of fundraising and financial management. Keeping up to date with this ever-changing technology is more important than you think, especially since many of the areas are becoming more mobile in their capabilities.

New information is always relevant to fulfilling your role adequately. Familiarise yourself with NFP-related websites and mark your calendar with the many relevant webinars which will come your way in 2017 and beyond.

pexels-photo-261577Working or volunteering at an NFP can be a time-consuming task. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list, let alone come up with creative ideas for fundraising activities. So what can you do to make the most of your volunteer hours?

Create a workable system

You will need to come up with a system so you can use the time you have to the best of your advantage. Organise everything so you can find it quickly; make lists, create folders, manage a diary – whatever works for your particular job or project. The better organised you are, the easier it will be to manage your time effectively.

Stop procrastinating

Often when things get busy, it is easy to spend time worrying about the mountain of paperwork or the number of items on the to-do list. The trick is to tackle them one at a time. Cross an item off the list and move on to the next one. Don’t spend your energy worrying about things – just do what needs to be done when you have the time.

Work from home where necessary

Sometimes working from home is in your best interests when you have a long or complex task to do. It can mean you can work on it in your own time without interruption, reporting back to the office as necessary. It may not work for all projects, but it could help when you are time limited and could save on much travel time between locations.

Break projects down into mini-tasks

If you are overseeing a big project, then it is often easier to bring things down into workable chunks. Plan your day so you can work on one project to completion. Then move onto something else and repeat. This will take much of the stress and overwhelm out of the work day and minimise time wastage from switching from task to task.

Avoid checking emails and messages first thing

Emails and messages can cut into your day. Try to get out of the habit of checking your emails as soon as you arrive at the office. Start working on your to-do list and save the message checking until mid-morning or mid-afternoon when you feel like you need a break. Add an automatic reply which states you will respond within a 24 hour period, so you don’t feel rushed to answer immediately.

Give yourself a break

You are only human, and you cannot do it all TODAY. Burnout will be no good for you or the NFP you are volunteering for. Do what you can, when you can and be happy with that. And if the NFP is struggling to get through the tasks set, then it may be time for them to look for an extra pair of hands to help you out. While challenging work is good for the soul, self-sacrifice will do you no good at all.

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Admin Bandit would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to supporting your non-profit in 2017 and beyond.

college-1280964_640Having a sense of community in an NFP of any size is beneficial but even more in a large NFP to give a real sense of engagement and inclusion.

Build a sense of community in your not for profit

Building a sense of community allows everyone to feel like they are doing their part and helping to shape the overall project. By doing this, you will find your employees and volunteers will go over and above what is asked of them.

Together you can work hard during the challenges and celebrate the successes.

Let your volunteers and employees engage fully

A strong bond between members in the NFP will help develop a strong shared vision and bring your mission statement to life. If your volunteers or employees feel like they are segregated from other members due to their work situation or positioning, then their role will seem no more than just a ‘job’.

Allow your volunteer treasurer to have the opportunity with your marketing team and vice versa. Enable everyone to create a connection with others and engage on a positive and meaningful level.

Generate excitement around projects

A sense of community will allow a real buildup of excitement and motivation take place when you are due to launch a new project. This will give your project much momentum and give plenty of opportunities for participation.

Your supporters will act as champions to spread the word about your project and maintain momentum for the overall project.

Initiate events to build community

The sense of community does not always come naturally particularly if there is a real mix of backgrounds and individuals in the group. Initiate events to allow people to get to know each other and build on their commonality – the want or need to support the non-profit and raise money to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Ensure clear communication at all times

It is so much easier for everyone to work together once they have a clear view of the NFP’s vision and what they are working towards. If communication is lost and people are carrying out tasks with no set direction, then motivation can be hard to find.

Ensure that all the channels of communication are open both upward and downward and everyone is up to speed with their responsibilities. And this goes for listening as well. If people feel that they are being heard, they will be only too keen to provide feedback and offer support.

teamworkVolunteers may come into your NFP as individuals, but you need them to work together as a group. This doesn’t always happen naturally, but there are things you can do to help bond your people into a devoted team.

Know their reasons for volunteering

Some people like to help out in many places; some will be drawn just to your organisation. Understanding why each individual is there will help you to keep them engaged and inspired, whether they want to learn new skills, fill some free time, or just love to help others.

It will also help you to build an effective team of like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. Volunteering is often a social activity where people make new friends.

Communicate

This is the easiest and most effective way to keep your team motivated, but it’s easy to overlook. Expectations should be clear and responsibilities of each person should be laid out, providing a path to success. Provide instruction and offer additional training if needed.

Don’t forget to listen as well as talk. Volunteers are the people at the heart of your organisation; ask for feedback and be open to suggestions. Talking to them before hiring an expensive consultant can save your NFP time and money.

Share the vision

Your NFP has a big picture and volunteers work on small goals toward making it happen. Show them how the work their team is doing fits into the overall plan, so they know what they’re working toward.

Instead of taking over, delegate responsibility. For instance, don’t hand down a to-do list. Instead, ask the team to make small and large goals for their project. Give your people more control, and they will be driven to make things happen – plus they’ll keep the pressure on the other members of the team.

Let them know they’re making a difference

When a goal is reached, or progress is made, share that with the team so they can see the results of their hard work. For example after building a school, invite the volunteers to visit and see classrooms full of children.

Show appreciation

It’s simple: say thank you! Say it in person when you see them, say it publicly on social media with photos showing off their hard work. Reward the team by celebrating together when important projects come to an end.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you aren’t excited about your NFP, no one else will be either. Have fun and your people will too!