Sunday, January 08, 2012

New Year's Resolutions - Not Goals - for Nonprofit Leaders

For the last four years I have asked nonprofit thought leaders in my LinkedIn network to contribute to this list of recommended New Year’s resolutions for nonprofits.  It is interesting to see the tone change from year to year.  This year the tone is clearly on “Be the best you can be.”  It is upbeat and forward looking – so very refreshing to be at this crossroads.  The advice runs the gamut from down to earth basic and practical to more philosophical and broad in scope.  And….All of it is so RiGHT ON! 

I recommend that you peruse this list and find what inspires you to add or adapt to your own resolutions fo 2012.  I have grouped them into two categories for “ease of absorbing the ideas.”  You can click on the name of each of the contributors and link to their website for more fascinating insight and advice for nonprofits.  I thank the contributors – profusely! - for taking the time share their wisdom and experience with us.

I’ve noticed that the fundraising experts are usually straightforward, no nonsense get to the points types.  But this year we have a mix of approaches. Marc Pitman, Jay Frost and Linda Lysakowski stay true to that characterization but Pamela Grow recommends a long term perspective.

Marc Pitman:  I'd highly recommend people ask more. Readers of my blog or of my book "Ask Without Fear!" will know that I believe in a holistic approach to fundraising. But I'm seeing more and more fundraising folks that crowd out the "ask" for other aspects of fundraising. (If I hear "friendriasing" one more time!!!!) Friends are very important, but even they know that you need to raise money. So in 2012 ask more!!    
Jay Frost:   Here are my top five...

1) Respond to every donor. Personally. Every single time. And, as much as possible, do so by the donor's preferred means of communication.

2) Know your donors. Conduct sufficient research to develop growing and deepening relationships, both at the major gift level and in every segment of your constituency.

3) Ask. Often. Through all available channels. Just because mail or phone worked yesterday doesn't mean it will work tomorrow. And just because it doesn't appear to be a big source of revenue today doesn't mean it won't tomorrow either. If social media fundraising seems like a fantasy just remember how we all felt about email fundraising ten years ago.

4) Ask broadly. America is a rapidly diversifying philanthropic marketplace. We owe it to our causes and organizations to open the doors to a much wider community of supporters.

5) Go Global. Wealth and philanthropy are expanding rapidly around the world. Social media is opening avenues to reach audiences in places we once thought too far away to solicit support. This is a perfect time to begin cultivating an international donor constituency.

Linda Lysakowski:    
  1. Resolve to involve my board members in fundraising and get them the training and education they need to be effective fundraisers.
  2. Resolve to clean up our donor database so we can be more hi-touch in addition to being hi-tech!
  3. Resolve to regularly assess our development program and see where we can improve
  4. Resolve to make at least three personal visits to major donors each month.
  5. Resolve to involve my CEO in the donor identification, cultivation and solicitation process.
Pamela Grow:   I’m urging organizations to focus on the lifetime value of a donor – for long-term success.   Resolve to cut the nonprofit jargon, learn how to market and, lastly, try exploring outside-the-box educational venues. Rather than signing up for yet another AFP workshop, try attending an Internet marketing seminar or even taking a sales workshop. Get outside your comfort level.

Mission, Operations, Evaluation, Creativity, Boards

Anne Ackerson:   "We are, therefore we have value" is NOT the nonprofit mantra for the 21st century. Nonprofits of all stripes should resolve to better understand their value and impact in a rapidly changing world and they should embrace using a variety of ongoing evaluative methods to get at the heart of why they're important to others.

Clearly, many segments within the sector do this quite well already, but many, many others simply have no handle on how to evaluate their impact, much less understand WHY it is important to do so. However, audiences can be fickle things unless there's real meat on the value bones. Mere window dressing doesn't cut it -- audiences and their support will move on to a hundred other charities where the value proposition is clearer, brighter, more meaningful and delivers on the mission promise.

TerrieTemkin:     I would say that boards and staff should resolve to add more play to their work. Research tells us that it makes us more creative. Today, we need creativity more than ever.

This means pushing back when the strong personalities - we all know who they are! - state emphatically that they don't want to waste their time with games or "touchy-feely" activities.

Susan Detwiler   I hope that nonprofits resolve to pay attention to aligning their internal operations with their mission. It brings lasting positive effect on delivering the mission when every policy and decision is weighed against the effect on the mission.

I think that one of my own resolutions for 2012 will also be of value to nonprofits leaders.  It is simply to eliminate some of the “busyness” that takes so much time, and adds so little value to my life.  This busyness is cluttering my brain and keeping me from more in depth thoughtfulness.  In 2012  I plan to fight back the sound bite life and give the “blue chips” the attention they deserve. 

I am moving into a new more spacious office space courtesy of my adult son moving into his own apartment.  Moving is always an opportunity to get rid of stuff and get organized.  It is also a get time to reflect and have a fresh start.  So I am looking forward to the type of year Anne talks about above with “real meat on the value bones.”  I also hope to take Terrie’s advice and “add more play to my work.”

I hope you found value in this list of recommendations.  I certainly did – and inspiration too!  Thanks again to Marc, Jay, Linda, Pamela, Anne, Terrie and Susan for sharing such great ideas with us.  Please leave your comments and join the conversation.

1 comment:

GoodCounselBook said...

My New Year's Resolutions: (1) help demystify law for nonprofit executives and board members; (2) improve legal education through greater use of clinical programs to serve the business needs of nonprofit orgs, and (3) inspire more attorneys to serve charities.