Friday, January 07, 2011

We’re Back So Let’s See Some Action... Resolutions for Nonprofits in 2011

Well, it is a snowy day here in New Jersey and I enjoyed the homemade pea soup I made earlier so now its time for this more serious post. For the last three years I have asked some experts on my LinkedIn network to provide their recommendations for New Year’s resolutions for nonprofits – and people associated with nonprofits. Once again they have come through with such great advice – and quite a diversity of recommendations. There is even a video recommendation submitted by Marc Pitman!
Last year I said the resolutions had a “Lets straighten up and face the future squarely and show them we’re ready” panache. This year they have more of a “We’re back in business so let’s see some action” tone.

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

Amy Eisentstein and Linda Lysakowski offer straightforward, no nonsense advice

Amy says: “Ask More Frequently. Specifically, incorporate an individual giving program into your annual fund and ask at least 10 people for gifts, face-to-face, this year.”

Linda says: “ Invest in development and not expect instant results.”

Building Relationships and Marketing
Maria Semple’s recommendation encourages us to take a more integrated view and develop deeper relationships with key donors:

"Resolve to become less dependent on special events to generate revenue and focus instead on establishing quality relationships with individuals who can make meaningful gifts to your organization. Try doing smaller, more intimate cultivation events that will enable people to learn more, ask questions, and become engaged. Find a way to stay in touch either via email marketing, snail mail, and social media (or preferably all 3!). The social media piece is free, so take advantage of uploading photos and videos to tell your nonprofit's story & successes. If you find it is too time consuming to maintain it yourself, then find a high school student who is looking to build their college resume and help your nonprofit at the same time."

Marc A. Pitman submitted the first ever video recommendation for this list. He says: “I'm really taken by the simplicity of Scott Harrison's message in the video I posted today.
I think nonprofits should resolve to:
(1) Watch this clip and
(2) List out three things they'll change in their organization as a result!"
I watched the clip and you can’t help but be encouraged to action by it.

Elizabeth Clawson suggests an excellent professional development activity for us to learn more about the finances of the organizations we are associated with. I plan to recommend this one to organizations I work with…and it has the makings of an excellent blog article.
"Know your 990. Assuming your organization files one, print out your most recent IRS Form 990 and have staff review it during a meeting. This is a great way for:

1) Executive staff to introduce the form to others;
2) Finance/accounting staff (if any) to clarify part of their work and answer questions;
3) Fundraising staff to understand what grantmakers see when they evaluate funding proposals and highlight recent sources of funding;
4) Communications staff to glean new statistics from the numbers (such as dollars invested in programs, diversity of funding, etc.)
5) All staff to better understand the organization's finances and see the balance sheet that translates their often intangible work into real-world numbers. "

Jean Block has a resolution for the New Normal: "Nonprofits have got to diversfy their revenue this year...relying on traditional funding sources and the same old 'tried and true' fundraising will simply not cut it anymore. We hear lots about getting in tune with social media as the new trend, but I would add that investing in social enterprise (earned income) should be an important part of every nonprofit's tool kit."

Susan Detwiler has a recommendation for us as individuals: "Just for today, I will set a realistic goal to accomplish in the next 8 hours, leaving time to handle the inevitable fires, so I am not sidetracked by them. Repeat."

Hmmmm….sounds simple enough but could be hard for many of us unless we stay disciplined about it.

Finally my own two cents....

Most nonprofits have been through the mill in the last couple of years and many of those who have landed on their feet are in a new place. Carter McNamara recently made a list of trends he sees coming in 2011 and action planning is one of the main trends on his list. I think this is a good trend and doing action oriented strategic planning is my recommended resolution for 2011. Stay tuned for a detailed post on this subject.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, rather it is intended to give you ideas provided by some experts to consider for your own list of resolutions and objectives for 2011. Thanks again to each of the contributors to this list - you have provided us with an encouraging list of ideas on which to build our 2011 resolutions. I hope you will visit their blogs for ongoing commentary throughout the year – I know I do.
Do you have ideas you would like to add to this list - I'd love to know what they are. Please share your ideas by posting a comment to this post.

1 comment:

Amy Eisenstein said...

Marion - Thanks for including me in this post! Lots of great ideas for the new year!