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Posts Tagged ‘innovative NFPs’

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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A lot has changed in the world since The Benevolent Society opened their doors in 1813. As Australia’s first charity, it has experienced many changes in its 200+ years of operation, and none more so than the last 30 years through the development of technology, the internet and apps. But to stay current and relevant, nonprofits like The Benevolent Society must roll with the punches and make changes to the way they do business to stay relevant.

But as technology rapidly moves forward, many charities are being left behind. In a 2016 Charitable Giving Report published by Blackbaud, they discovered that only 7.2% of individual donations in the UK were made online. Considering how much we rely on the internet, that’s not a very high percentage, is it? Charities, it seems, could be doing a lot more when it comes to utilising technology and increasing donor awareness.

Millennials love technology – in fact, they never leave home without it. It is their lifeline to the outside world and their connection to their friends and issues they care about. If charities want to ensure that they reach the younger generation, they must find ways to use the technology that will benefit their mission. Whether it is a lack of knowledge or just an unwillingness to change, change they must.

But more than just building a website and showing up on social media, charities must look to apps and other devices that work on mobile technology, the preferred favourite of the millennials. Many charities are starting to make inroads into apps, and as the successes multiply, many more charities will follow suit.

Taking advantage of the app game early on was Alzheimer’s Australia and the Bupa Health Foundation who created BrainyApp in 2011. It was the world’s first dementia risk reduction app which saw over 41,000 downloads in a 48 hour period.

Back in 2015, the UN World Food Programme released a very effective mobile app. Called ‘Share The Meal’, the app meant that donors could tap their phone and give $0.50 to feed a child for a day. To date, Share The Meal has given 14,901,224 meals and counting. That is one impressive app, to say the least.

In 2016, GIVIT released their app which allows Australian charities to search a virtual warehouse of donated items to help vulnerable people in the community.

As you can see, it is all about innovation. We look forward to hearing how charities are embracing the new technology in the future to enable their organisation to reach as much of the population as possible.

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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.

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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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