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Archive for the ‘Business tools’ Category

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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