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Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

One way that nonprofits are very similar to traditional for-profit companies is that both types of organisations need creative approaches and new solutions to old problems. This might be an even more pressing need for NFPs since many already operate on very lean budgets. Encouraging open communications, and, hosting brainstorming sessions with staff members and other stakeholders are two ways for your nonprofit to come up with the innovations and advances that it must have to make real progress on your mission and goals.

The following tips will help your brainstorming sessions be more productive.

Select an Issue or Goal that’s Open Ended

Not every problem can be solved by brainstorming. Sometimes the nature of an issue requires immediate, and decisive action, even if that action might not be the most optimal solution. Before you call a meeting and solicit suggestions, make sure that the subject is one that needs a unique, “out-of-the-box” solution and keep in mind that the best sessions and ideas will come forward when you can have a no limits, no holds barred type of discussion.

Forewarn Your Participants

Once you’ve decided on an issue to tackle, come up with a list of participants. Let them know the topic well in advance of the day and time it will be discussed. This allows your group to begin thinking of potential solutions even before you gather, and in effect, “primes the pump” of inspiration, making it more likely that you will receive one or more great ideas. Ask each participant to think about the problem and to bring at least 3 or 4 good ideas to the meeting. Choose a quiet room free of distractions and one that offers privacy so that everyone will feel free to talk out loud and say what’s on their mind. Make sure the room is a cozy temperature, has comfortable seats arranged around a sturdy table so it will be easier for your members to contribute in a meaningful way.

Getting Started

Once you and your participants have assembled for the session, appoint a facilitator to lead the group if you will not be doing so. It’s also a good idea to select a second person to write down everyone’s ideas, preferably using a computer and projector, or on a simple “whiteboard” with dry erase markers. Whatever visual tool that you decide to use for your list of ideas, make sure each member can easily see all of the ideas as they are suggested. Provide your members with their own writing and list making tools.

Ask and You Will Receive

You could ask for members to get things rolling by volunteering their suggestions, or, you could go round-robin around the room asking each person to contribute one or more ideas. Whatever you do, don’t critique any one idea at the point. Just encourage everyone to make suggestions even if it seems a little “out there” – try not to overthink it! Often, ideas that are first aired are impractical, but they spark a conversation that leads to an approach that can really work wonders and solve the issue.

Hit a Pause? Use Prompts to Restart

At some point, you will notice that the flow of ideas and conversations will start to die off. Have the leader restart the session by using prompts to encourage additional creativity. Some ideas for prompts include using a single keyword as a trigger. Then have everyone suggest an idea that somehow relates to the trigger word. You could also ask for one more idea from someone in the group, and then go around the room having each member contribute their take on this suggestion, such as how it could be improved and made even better. A third type of prompt is to add a little role playing to the mix to get participants to look at the problem from a different perspective. This will enable them to consider how they might approach the issue if they had a different background or job.

Narrow Your List

Once you’ve got a lengthy list of possible solutions, have your participants to vote on their favourite ones. Discuss the ideas that they selected in more depth, coming up with a list of pros and cons for each along with suggestions that will make the solutions better and more practical to implement. Take a final vote to discover the top two or three ideas and go back through the process to further refine each one until you come up with workable solutions for the task.

Wrap it Up

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a brainstorming session and allow it to go on too long. Extended sessions are tiresome for most folks, so be sure to bring your discussion to a close within an hour or so. If you’ve come up with too many suggestions and it will take longer than the original hour to narrow your list down, simply split your session and host a second one to be able to give plenty of time to shortening your list and improving your ideas without exhausting your participants.

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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!

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hand-895588_640Marketing is, essentially, about getting your brand out there, into the big wide world and getting people to know about you and what it is you do. Ideally, you want to take it to the next step, where people are talking about you and doing your marketing work for you.

This is where a good team with great marketing skills comes in. It needs to be made clear that marketing is NOT sales, although the two can work collaboratively to achieve the same outcome.

A good marketer will have a range of skills, all relevant to knowing not only how to communicate to your target audience, but how to read them, and gauge their reactions. Understanding how the marketing is being understood is as vital to the outcome as is the marketing itself.

Whether a single person or a team, what they must have to be great marketers is:

Ability to communicate across platforms 

This goes beyond being able to whip up a brochure, web page, or video to communicate to the market. Communication is a complete package. If you place an awesome video on a website that is detracting to the market, it is next to pointless.

Communication is not just the video, or the webpage, but how that page is presented, its friendliness and ease of use, and how it works for the visitor.

Understanding the vast differences between the social media is also important. Not only in what you can say or do on them, but also in how the audiences work. They need to be proficient not only in posting, but also in connecting and conversing with followers and likers.

Digitally Skilled 

Following on from above, a good marketing team will have the skills to negotiate the backend of a website. They don’t need to be web designers, or know the ins and outs of HTML, CSS and other coding languages.

They do need to know the basics, and understand how a website is set up and can be altered. This helps with communications to those who are proficient in those areas, as well as enabling them to make any minor changes required.

More than this, it gives them a deeper understanding of how the message will be distributed and received. This can provide an insight that will take your message to that next level.

Data Aware 

Being able to analyse data is essential.

You can gauge the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, to a degree, by the number of comments on a blog post, or shares on Facebook.

This is only tip of the iceberg data. Being able to translate the whole data, from interactions and comments, to views and shares, as well as tracking where and how it is being seen and responded provides a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of the campaign.

Not only this, it also gives you invaluable information on what works and what doesn’t. It means you can step your next campaign or materials up to the next level. You can only improve, and become more well known, by knowing this information.

If your team don’t have these skills, it’s worth investing in some training for them. The don’t need to do a full on web design course, for example, but enrolling in some basic coding courses, Photoshop, social media training, and/or data analysis is vital.

If you have a team, working out the strengths of individuals and giving them that role will benefit. Your whole team having skills in all areas, however, will give you the boost you may need.

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The Tall Poppy has a post about a quiz to find out if you’re left or right brained. These “tests” are always interesting to further understand ourselves and those around us. Understanding each other makes for smoother dynamics between family, friends and colleagues. As Ingrid at Heart Harmony points out sometimes it is good to have contrast.

Are you left or right brained? Do you appreciate the differences in those around you?

adminbandit  Here’s to volunteer treasurers..

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