Show Me the Money: What Every Non-Profit Leader Should Know Before Asking

Posted on December 15, 2014. Filed under: Data, SWOT | Tags: , , , |

It’s time for fundraising and you’ve perfected your elevator speech. Once-upon-a-time this may have meant that you’d do most of the talking, and you would have all the answers to the same set of highly anticipated questions. But as funding sources have dried up, and dollars flow less freely, those who have typically given to your organization along with first-timers may be asking more (and tougher) questions before investing in your non-profit. Here are some suggested things to include as you make your pitch and as donors critically evaluate the causes they will support this year:

  • Be clear on your mission, goals and objectives. Know what progress you’ve made toward achieving them.
  • Know your numbers. Donors will want to quantify your worthiness. How much, how many, how long, how far, averages, medians, percent increases, percentile ranks, ROI, etc. You get the point.
  • Be prepared to talk about threats, challenges, and even failures. More importantly, provide clarity on how you have (or are) addressing them.
  • Distinguish how you are different from other organizations doing similar work. Be knowledgeable about how you compare to them.
  • Mention any synergy, collaboration, or partnership with other organizations that is favorable, for example, talk about your public/private initiative with a local area school.
  • Mention what is new. If you have new initiatives, new employees that bring a special skill, or new board members, this may be of interest.
  • Talk about how your organization is managed. Focus on how you have utilized funding, improved effectiveness, expanded outreach, formed a sub-committee to address a particular concern, etc.

No leader will be able to accurately predict every question, but the guidelines above will better ensure that you are prepared to compete for dollars in a tougher economy. Good Luck!

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To Thy Own Selfie Be True

Posted on October 31, 2014. Filed under: Assessment, Data, Evaluation, SWOT | Tags: , , , |

Among this year’s ABC fall line-up of shows is Selfie. In short, it’s an “opposites attract” romantic comedy about a bullied teenager who revamps herself for adulthood through excessive use of social media. When this affects her career path, she turns to a fellow marketing firm colleague to help repair her workplace image. She’s always inappropriate – from office attire to her pre-occupation with her smart-phone, in full view of the boss during team meetings. But in her defense, she’s done one thing right. OK, two. She has recognized that change needs to occur, and she’s consulted with an objective change agent.

In our lives, we too are inundated with the selfie. In fact, an estimated 350 million images, mostly of us, are uploaded to facebook every day. And that only includes those that survive our personal scrutiny. When we post pics, we wait patiently for friends and family to “like” them too. If they’re unflattering, out of focus, or don’t depict what we intend to show, we simply delete them. But isn’t it often the same in our professional lives? It’s far easier to ignore or downplay a recognized challenge or business concern than it is to confront it directly. We bury the truth in the board report, artfully skirt questions about it, or minimize the importance it. We press our imaginary delete key and hope it will go away. It won’t. And often, it will require some form of outside intervention to promote change. Does your business selfie show:

  • a pattern of revenue loss?
  • a decrease in customer or client base?
  • a low level of employee or customer satisfaction?
  • a loss in productivity?
  • a need for improved effectiveness or efficiency?
  • a need for improved policies or procedures?
  • a need for employee training?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may see in your selfie an opportunity for change rather than an insurmountable threat. You are to be congratulated! We invite you to explore our website to learn how we can assist your organization in taking the next step.

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