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Archive for the ‘community’ Category

The problems that you are trying to solve, and the work that your NFP does in your community, defines why your organisation exists. Your organisation’s values, what you stand for, believe in, and are passionate about, define who you are. When creating your NFP’s mission, you should take elements from both to create a statement that inspires you, your team, and your other supporters to make a positive difference.

The following suggestions can help you create a mission statement that motivates your stakeholders and community to work with your organisation for the good of everyone! Additional tips are included to help you use your new mission statement for the best effect.

Develop Your Mission

When creating your mission, you should think about both your values and your vision for your organisation. To do this, you need to first clearly define the problems or issues that your NFP wants to solve, along with the steps that you will take to achieve your mission.

Don’t just talk about what you want to do but think about the way that you want to accomplish your objectives. What actions are in keeping with your values, and which aren’t? How do you expect to treat your supporters and others in your community? Define the lines that you won’t cross.

Both Vision and Values Influence the Mission

Once you have your NFP’s value and vision clearly in focus, you can then begin to write your mission statement. If you are still having a hard time connecting with what it is that you do, and why your organisation and its work matters, consider surveying your service beneficiaries, along with your staff, volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders. Find out from them what they think of when they hear your organisation’s name.

Start a Fire with Your Mission

Choose your words carefully when defining your mission. As you read over your statement, you should find that it stirs your emotions and makes you, and others, want to get to work addressing the issues that you want to solve. It should serve as a rallying point for everyone connected to your organisation.

If your statement doesn’t move you and  compel you to act, it’s missing something. This something is likely connected to your vision and values, so think of ways to let this shine through more clearly when you rewrite your statement.

Revise, Review and Ask for Feedback

Before you release your new mission statement to the world, review it for any mistakes or contradictions. Go back and talk with some of the stakeholders that you initially surveyed and ask them if it captures the heart and soul of what your NFP is all about. Be open to suggestions and make revisions as necessary.

Align Your Team with Your Mission

Once you have written an inspiring mission statement, it’s time to put it to good use. You will want to publish your mission statement in your “about” section of your blog, and, include it in the appropriate, designated sections of your essential publications, documents, and grant applications.

It’s also important to take steps to get your staff, volunteers and other supporters to align with your mission. When others are in alignment with your NFP’s mission, it means that everyone is focusing their efforts and working together towards a common objective.

Failing to align your team with your mission leads to a lot of wasted time, effort and other resources, making it much harder to achieve any of your goals.

Alignment is the Result of Effective Leadership

Aligning your team with your mission comes down to how effective your organisation’s leadership is, at every level. Just like culture, the mission statement is defined by leadership. It is up to your leaders to model your NFP’s vision and values, making sure that their talk matches their actions and is true to the mission statement. Leaders then can speak to others from a position of authenticity and honesty, which is especially important when they hold others accountable to achieving the mission.

Communication is the Key to Alignment

Leadership should communicate your mission to the rest of the team, so that your staff, volunteers and other stakeholders know what’s at stake, and how their work specifically contributes to advancing the mission forward.

Conduct periodic surveys with your staff, volunteers and other stakeholders to see what they think about the mission statement and whether it is an accurate reflection of how they experience their connection with your organisation. If there’s a disconnect there, it’s a good idea to ask questions to learn what areas your NFP needs to address to bring the organisation, and its culture, in closer alignment with the mission.

Keep Your Core Mission Top of Mind

As time goes on and the number and types of services that you offer grows, it’s easy for leadership and other stakeholders to become distracted. Take steps to help everyone keep the mission at the forefront of their thoughts and actions.

Make Your Mission Measurable, and Meaningful on a Personal Level

Hold periodic meetings to remind your team of the mission. Tie in goals and the evaluation of your team’s group and individual performance to advancing the mission. Show how important your mission is by tying compensation, bonuses, recognition and perks to how well your team members advance the mission.

Distractions from Your Core Mission Weaken Performance

Reduce distractions by using your mission as the yardstick by which you measure proposals. If a program or service isn’t really advancing your purpose, it’s probably something that you want to at least think about reducing, eliminating, or perhaps partnering with a third party to provide. Keep the spotlight on your core mission and increase your efficiency and effectiveness in the process.

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It takes more than good intentions to create an impact in your community. In addition to dedication and support from your staff and volunteers, your nonprofit will need to secure funding to pay for its programs and daily operations, as well as build your capacity to grow sustainably.

The following fundraising guide is a brief overview of how to get started raising the funds that your organisation will need to support its mission.

Set Goals

Before you start, it’s important to have a firm goal in mind of the amount that you want to raise with your current campaign. While prior targets can give you a good idea of where to start, you will also want to include room to account for changes in your donor list, and, the needs of your organisation. Try to set a target that is both reasonable, but a bit challenging as well.

While it might seem counterintuitive, setting a high bar can inspire affluent donors that want to make a significant contribution to causes they believe in and organisations that they think are serious about making a genuine impact.

When setting your goal, be sure to include benchmarks to help you measure your progress and the success of your event.

Create a Plan

Once you have a target in mind, you will need to decide on what type of campaign you will host. Will it be a special fundraising event, such as a gala or auction, or, will you be conducting an online campaign? How long will your drive last, and, finally, what steps do you need to take to make sure that this fundraising drive goes off without a hitch so that you reach your targets?

Recruit a committee to help you plan the event. The committee should make a list of every resource and item that is needed, along with assignments for who will be responsible for gathering the resources and putting into play at the event. Include such things on your list as VIPs, entertainment, catering for refreshments, the venue, items to be auctioned, publicity for the event, seating, transportation and so forth.

Set Your Budget

Once you have created a plan for your drive, you can then create a budget of estimated expenses for the campaign. Include a cushion of 10 to 20% of estimated charges to make sure that you will have enough funds to cover the costs before you make final preparations and publicity releases for the event.

Fund Your Plan and Put it into Action

Do you know how much you can reasonably expect to earn from your planned fundraiser, and, is this amount worth all the effort you are putting into the event? The total amount of donations that you reasonably expect to receive should far outweigh the total costs. Otherwise, it might be better to pare down your event or host a different type of fundraising campaign altogether.

Once you have decided on an event, created a plan and set the budget, it’s time to approach your board for approval and funding. Once approved, you can decide on a final date for the event and make arrangements for it to take place.

Get the Word Out

Publicity is an essential part of making your fundraising drive a success. In addition to any flyers, and direct invites you make to your list of donors and other supporters, make sure you utilise as many tools as possible to get the word out. Post on your website, and your social media channels. Send reminders via email, and text alerts on Twitter and elsewhere as the day draws near to encourage as many as possible to attend.

Evaluate Your Results

Once you host your event, it’s time to take a good look at what went right, and wrong. Use analytics to evaluate your results and point you in the right direction for ways that you can improve your processes before you host your fundraiser. The information that you uncover during this review will help you to create a strong foundation for your next fundraiser!

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Nearly every profession has its own mythology, or urban legends, that develop around it and its operations. While a few of these notions may work to bolster the reputation of a certain occupation, some false beliefs can cause others to shy away from a given field, and prevent those who work in it from getting the credit and recognition that they deserve.

The following list reveals the truth about some of the most popular fallacies surrounding the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofit Work is Easy; it’s the Perfect Career if You Can’t Get a “Real” Job

During the recent global economic downturn, a lot of individuals turned to the nonprofit sector to volunteer their time and efforts while they were awaiting an opportunity to return to employment at a for-profit company. While volunteering is a great way to network and keep your skills sharp, the sector is still a demanding one that benefits from the skills and experiences that top talent can bring to their organisations.

While many people who work in the nonprofit sector do so for altruistic and philanthropic reasons, this does not mean that the pace is not a busy and demanding one, or that everyone that works for a nonprofit does so for free. Most NFPs are facing a host of unique challenges and demands, and the work that needs to get done is often demanding, and schedules and deadlines can be inflexible and stressful.

While some NFPs operate on a shoestring budget, a growing number of nonprofit boards and directors are becoming more aware of the need to recruit and retain the very best people for their NFPs. Many are offering salaries to match the roles and responsibilities that come along with a nonprofit career, and that are comparable to the salary and demands of a similar position in the for-profit world.

All Not-for-Profits Do Basically the Same Thing, and They Don’t Make Any Money

Nonprofits provide a host of services to their communities and the world at large.  The work that is involved in providing these services is as varied as the number and types of charities and associations that exist.

Because of their tax status, many people automatically assume that not-for-profits are banned from earning revenue, when this is simply not the case. All NFPs rely on income generated from at least one source. Examples of types of income that can flow into nonprofits include endowments and grants, donations, fees for services, rents, royalties and interest payments, just to name a few. Without income of some sort, it would be impossible for NFPs to advance their mission, serve their communities and achieve their goals.

As statistics demonstrate, the income generated by the nonprofit sector makes a significant contribution to Australian GDP each year. According to key statistics about Australian volunteering provided by Volunteering Australia, the work performed by volunteers contributed over $25 billion to the Australian economy in 2010.  A recent study on Australian Giving by Swinburne University of Technology reports that 80% of Australians donate to nonprofits each year, with annual contributions now totaling over $12.5 billion.

All Work in the Nonprofit Sector is In Person and Very Hands On

While the staff and volunteers of many nonprofits do provide a lot of hands-on, direct services to recipients, many others offer opportunities to serve others that don’t require a lot of face-to-face contact. Some work can be completed online, from remote locations. Other opportunities are short term, or involve micro-volunteering and may include activities that range from helping out on a project for just a few hours one day, or even for just a few minutes!

The important thing to remember about the nonprofit sector is that there are countless ways that supporters can help nonprofits to advance their mission. Even if you don’t see an opportunity that fits your schedule or capabilities, when you share the values and concerns of a nonprofit, it’s always worth the time and effort to connect with them and ask how you can help them achieve their goals.

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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.

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Filling the post of volunteer treasurer can be a difficult task for many boards. While volunteer treasurers are responsible for performing a number of significant tasks and duties, there are a number of myths about being a treasurer of a nonprofit organisation that can hold individuals back from volunteering. The following are a few of the benefits that can arise from fulfilling the role of volunteer treasurer.

Improve Self-Esteem and Sense of Self

Many volunteers report that they find that they effort and work that they do to support their cause is very rewarding. Volunteering gives folks that participate a sense that the work that they do is meaningful, and that the actions that they are taking are helping to bring about positive change and transforming their communities into a better place.

This sense of working with others to serve a greater purpose helps improve the morale and sense of well-being one has as a volunteer.

Networking

Because their service often involves working with both other volunteers and service recipients, volunteering gives others the opportunity to meet new people, and learn new things about existing connections. Volunteering connects individuals with others who often share their values, and this increases friendship and a spirit of camaraderie and belonging. Greater connectedness with others increases empathy and happiness, which can improve wellness and well-being.

Volunteering can also boost one’s employment opportunities, as it makes it easier for volunteers to meet others in diverse fields and backgrounds. This increases prospects for the volunteer and can make it easier to find new positions in one’s field, or change careers entirely.

Learn New Skills and Use Existing Skills in a Different Way

Many accounting software packages have simplified common treasurer tasks, such as creating the budget and other reports and documents. It is no longer absolutely necessary to have prior accounting or bookkeeping experience to be a successful volunteer treasurer. However, volunteers with prior accounting, finance, insurance or other similar experience benefit from using their existing skills in a new way that offers them a different perspective on accounting processes and procedures. Others without this experience will appreciate the chance to learn new skills that are frequently used by volunteer treasurers.

Learning new skills not only help volunteers to grow as individuals, but, it provides them with an opportunity to update their resume and possibly increase their chances of success should they decide to enter a new field or search for a new position.

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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.

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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.

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