I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to non-profit organizations over the years. From volunteering to serving on the board of directors. These organizations have also varied in focus with strengths in community service, arts, and health issues. One thing I’ve observed over the years is the uncanny ability for a non-profit organization to focus on two things, 1) raising money and 2) spending money.
Now, I know, these are the primary functions and purposes of non-profit organizations. However, in a new heightened scrutiny environment, how will these organizations continue to raise the money needed to provide vital and enriching services to their communities? It’s really quite simple.
Today’s donors are ever increasingly sophisticated in their donor approach. They now see their donations, not as a gift, but rather an investment in a cause they passionately believe in. As donors continue to see non-profits in this way, non-profits are pushed to create sustainable and efficient business models that will appeal to a decreased base of funding.
So how does a non-profit do this? Here are some quick steps that are vital to this approach.
Create a Strategic Business Plan
I know, this is that big binder you created about 10 years ago at a weekend retreat and you just regret pulling it down and revisiting it. The reality is this is your number one tool for bringing on “investors”. They want to see what their funding can do and how far it will reach.
Develop an Organizational Growth Map
What’s an organizational growth map? This is a tool that I relied heavily upon when working at FrostFire Media. Yes, I’m proposing yet another business practice to apply towards your everyday non-profit world, but it really is effective. An organizational growth map is a document that tracks not only the current organizational chart but also seeks to identify future team needs that align and match with your strategic plan. This document serves two purposes, it shows donors where their additional funding will go and gives your team members within your organization a vision of where they can fit in as the organization grows and prospers.
Establish Policies and Procedures
Surprisingly many think that policies and procedures will slow down progress and the goals of the organization. Not really the case. I’ve witnessed so many organizations flounder because of a lack of policies and procedures. How do you handle that new big donor, what about naming rights, who approves expenditures and how are budgets tracked. These are all items that flow into a policies and procedures document which will be requested often times by donors to ensure that you have your ducks in a row.
It might seem like very basic practices, but keeping your eye on these 3 main areas will help set your non-profit apart from the others in the battle for funding that will undoubtedly continue in the coming years.
If your interested in assistance in developing some of these areas for your organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always willing to work with non-profits to help them achieve their mission and goals.
Keep the passion alive and the communities thriving.
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