Saturday, January 09, 2010

Stimulating Ideas for the Times... Resolutions for Nonprofits in 2010

For the last two years I have asked my LinkedIn network to contribute to a list of suggested New Year’s resolutions for nonprofits. Experts - diverse in their expertise and recommendations - have again responded with a stimulating list of suggested resolutions. Some are nationally recognized, some work for nonprofits and some are consultants. Two CEOs of leading nonprofits offer their advice. Read on....and take notes...resolve that some of these resolutions will appear on your own list.

Last year the tone of the recommendations had to do with facing a difficult year ahead. This year we all seem to realize that we are facing a paradigm shift and the resolutions have more of a “Lets straighten up and face the future squarely and show them we’re ready” panache.

I thank all of the nonprofit professionals who contributed to this post making this such a rich set of stimulating ideas that all of us can use as we develop our goals for this year. I’ve grouped them by topic for easy reference.

Community Building
Hildy Gottlieb and Jane Garthson both have recommendations focusing on building community. Hildy is the Founder of the Community Driven Institute (CDI) in Tucson, Arizona and Jane, an ethics and leadership consultant who hails from Toronto, Canada is working with the CDI (I bet especially in the winter).

Hildy recommends that “we focus on what is possible, rather than what is wrong. Aim at creating the future you DO want for your community, rather than focusing all your energy on what you do NOT want (poverty, hunger, disease). The very best we can do by eliminating a negative is to get to zero. Aim at the positive future you DO want to create, and you will solve your community's problems (and your organization's problems) on the way to creating that positive future.” Hildy's approach always leaves me with a new sense of energy and can do anything spirit.
Hildy Gottlieb's blog

The Pollyanna Principles - Hildy's newest book

Jane also builds on Hildy’s Pollyanna Principles suggesting “a focus on making your community better, in the ways that matter most to your community. Focus all resources on action areas that create a better future. Govern for what matters, which is all external to the organization. Focus on effectiveness in achieving desirable outcomes for community; internal efficiencies and oversight only matter if the community benefits. And remember that many other organizations in your community also exist to make the community better. Plan and collaborate with those organizations.”
Jane Garthson's website

Strategic Planning
Susan Bari, Kim Pawlak and Terrie Temkin were on the same wavelength with their resolutions reinforcing mission, vision and value.

Susan Bari, president and CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute encourages that we “ask Peter Drucker's Five Most Important Questions. It is important to continuously ask ourselves: What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does our customer value? What are our results? and What is our plan? This strategic planning self-assessment process will keep us true to our selves, our donors and our clients.” As a side note, I am trained in the Drucker self assessment process and use these strategic planning principles with my own clients.
Leader to Leader website

Leader to Leader blog

Kim Pawlak, Associate Executive Director, Text and Academic Authors Association advises: “To develop a solid strategic plan with actionable steps to ensure that you stay on track with your mission and vision and use your limited resources in a way that maximizes the impact you can have on your constituents.”
Text and Academic Authors Association

Terrie Temkin, Principal in CoreStrategies for Nonprofits recommends that “nonprofits keep their eyes on their vision and value. While hardly a new resolution, it's a resolution similar to the perennial diet and exercise - critical for a healthy existence, but somehow hard to maintain. If organizations want to survive in this environment, though, it's never been more important.”
Terrie Temkin's blog

Communication, Networking and Social Networking
John Haydon, Maria Semple and Gayle Thorsen all touch on these subjects – each with their own unique vision.
John Haydon, a leading social media and marketing strategist for nonprofits recommends that “non-profits have "implement mobile giving" as a goal for 2010", especially if the average age of their donors are less than 50 years old.” John did us a favor to hit this straight on with clarity - this is going to be a big, big topic in 2010. I’ll be writing about it in the next few months.
John Haydon's blog

Maria Semple, a nonprofit prospect research consultant, provides this advice for nonprofit executives: “Do more networking -- both in-person and in the social media world. Join networking groups outside the nonprofit sector where business owners, corporate executives and philanthropists congregate.” This is something we all know we should do but so many of us just don’t get around to it. Maria is right – make it a resolution - this can really be valuable to your organization and to you personally.
Maria Semple's website

Gayle Thorsen,a nonprofit communications consultant, also addresses mobile giving as part of a larger communications strategy. Gayle offers, “My advice would be to do less better. Many of the nonprofits I talk with have too many communication balls in the air. Make the hard choices that streamline and focus communications. Be brutally honest about capacity issues--especially with social media. Don't do anything without understanding exactly how it supports your strategy and to what degree. Take projects off the plate rather than add more. This simplification advice applies to every aspect of communications--from messaging (strip the fat) to website/email design (think mobile).” Galye also pointed out that this is especially important with pared down staffs.
Gayle Thorsen's blog

Advocacy and Building Relationships
Elizabeth Clawson, a prospect researcher, recommends that nonprofits resolve to attend a lobby day at their state capitol this year. She says, “These events allow nonprofits of all sizes and missions to advocate for their sector and build relationships with state legislators. In addition to state-specific issues, there are many federal ones to mobilize around, such as the charitable mileage rate.” I am so happy that Elizabeth contributed to this list. She is a young nonprofit professional and participates in the online nonprofit community very actively on Twitter and at her blog.
Elizabeth Clawson
Elizabeth Clawson's blog

Susan Detwiler, a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant, offers good advice for improving executive staff board relationships: “Resolve to recognize that even people you can't stand probably have the best motives behind their actions. So instead of focusing on how they're impeding you, figure out where they're coming from. e.g., that loud mouth board member; or the donor that wants to tell you how to run the organization. Acknowledging a positive motive helps move the conversation in a good direction. Make sure all your board members feel useful! Just saying thanks is nice but even more powerful is letting people know just how helpful they are. People want to know they've really done something with their time and their life.

Michael Keats, business process improvement consultant for nonprofits offers this practical advice: Update operational procedures. Mike lists the benefits as:
•Establish a standard for the method and quality of operations;
•Provide a means of training and helping new staff be more productive sooner;
•Increase efficiency and flexibility by enabling staff to be cross-trained
•Minimize disruptions when a key person is suddenly lost to the organization.
Michael Keats website

And finally, the resolutions offered by Ken Berger, CEO Charity Navigator, defy categorization:
-We will not tell stories about individuals we have helped without data that shows meaningful change in communities and peoples lives to back it up
-We will strive to develop an outcome driven culture within our organization from top to bottom.
-We will start by going through a theory of change process and not rest until everyone in the organization knows our desired outcomes and how each one of them will help us get to them!
-We will also seek and listen to our constituent’s feedback on our efforts.
-Whenever possible, we will seek funding for research to prove that our interventions are causing meaningful change in people’s lives. We will then share this evidence based research with our peers to further all of our efforts to improve our world.
Ken Berger's Blog

Thanks again to each of the contributors to this list - you have provided us with a stimulating list of ideas on which to build our 2010 resolutions. I hope you will visit their blogs for ongoing stimulating commentary throughout the year – I know I do. Do you have ideas you would like to add to this list - we'd love to know what they are. Please share your ideas by posting a comment to this post.



John Haydon said...

Marion - thanks for including me in your post!

lizzietheclaw said...

This is a fantastic list- I'm honored to be included! Thanks Marion!

Anonymous said...

Good brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.