Spolier Alert: If you read through to the end of this post, you get a free giveaway to help your nonprofit donor strategy!
When leading a team, business, or organization, often we tend to approach our coming year’s growth plans a little bit like a New Year’s resolution. At first, we’re driven by hope, anticipation, and a renewed sense of resolve to accomplish great feats. But soon thereafter the demands of day-to-day life, along with our natural desire to resist change, get the better of us, and the resulting change or growth is less than we had hoped.
According to the U.S. News, keeping a resolution is rare. Approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. The odds are truly stacked against us. So, what are we to do to beat the odds—both in our personal lives and our work lives?
Most nonprofit organizations are full of passionate and sacrificial leaders who have the ideas and plans to make a great impact in the world. But gaining traction and momentum to move forward isn’t easy. The energy and passion needed to successfully fund and launch a nonprofit is not the same energy and passion that will keep it moving forward year after year. Growing an organization takes even more. Most leaders feel this playing out daily.
For growth to occur, we must be open to some level of change. Sadly, nonprofit organizations that don’t embrace change are sure to fall behind, plateau, or, worse yet, deteriorate. So, what can you do and change to ensure your revenue is growing each year to support your mission and programs?
Proactive (adj): acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes
As January 1 approaches, put safeguards in place to ensure change initiatives stick and greatly impact the revenue to our organizations. This not only includes the strategy and tactics, but also investing in the resources to support change.
With this, leaders should ensure they’ve incorporated three themes within their 2019 development plan:
- a proactive commitment to grow,
- a disciplined rhythm of processes,
- and an acknowledgement of competition in your field.
Today, we’ll dig into the first topic, a proactive commitment to grow—and we hope you’ll join us all month long through this three-part blog series.
In order to grow from an always-reactive organization to a strategic-proactive organization, we not only need to change our activities, but our mindset too. Once we’ve reached that point where we are ready to embrace change, a plan must be in place to see it through. Execution must happen on a daily basis through dedicated, staff members collaborating with guidance from the board.
Often, when organizations are in the early start-up years, leadership has no option but to be reactive. Ten volunteers appear on your doorstep and need a task, a donor emerges and requests financial data that is not at your fingertips, or a speaking opportunity arises… and it’s tomorrow! But there comes a time when a leader has to make a conscious decision to become proactive by pressing pause and putting a strategy and plan in place that will grow the mission and organization long term.
What does this look like, and how does a growth mindset impact development efforts? Obviously, setting plans and goals in line with your strategic plan propels your mission forward. And possibly even more obvious, every organization wants to raise as much money as possible every year to support that mission. These financial goals, along with all the operational expenses required to support these mission-based objectives, should truly establish the actual financial need of the organization. It is highly critical to create reachable goals each year so that you can celebrate reaching those goals with your supporters.
Development staff needs to be able express and show each donor the financial need and the crucial role donors have in it. They also need to be able to have a conversation about the business they work for with the business people they are soliciting. All fund development staff should be able to passionately present the budgeted annual need, the financial trends of the organization, and the programmatic details targeted for the next few years.
To do this, every year organizations must formulate and present the budget to stakeholders to enhance the development strategy. Your donors will grow accustomed to hearing about current needs today and your needs next year—this also helps them see their giving as an annual commitment to the organization. And this is the key to donor retention.
Success in this area requires the entire team in a forward-pushing mindset of growth. Your passion to grow your organization is contagious; donors would rather invest in a forward-moving mission instead of helping a nonprofit out of a challenging or stuck situation.
How about you? Is it time to pause and thoughtfully plan out your growth initiatives? Have you truly established your organization’s financial need—one that would actually propel growth? Do your top donors know your true need and their crucial role in your organization year after year? Push into these activities and conversations, and you’ll find donors ready and willing to help.
In order to best equip you in your next steps, we put together a FREE 10-question check-list for you. Once you submit the check-list, you will receive a personal email from our Development Strategist, who will suggest three priority areas for you to focus on to grow revenue next year, based on the answers to the check-list. This email will likely include both fundraising priorities, as well as core, behind-the-scenes practices that impact and streamline your annual fundraising.
We hope this approach will provide you with a fresh outlook on your growth potential, classify your priorities, and allow you to grow your mission!