Considering a funding campaign?

Are you thinking about, planning to, or already launching a major funding campaign for your non-profit organization? If so, undertaking a large-scale initiative can be a great deal of fun, which requires significant planning and execution.

strategic campaign planningWe continue to learn about non-profit organizations addressing the implementation of major giving campaigns to fund capital, endowment, and program initiatives. Whether they’re for specific projects or annual operating needs, organizing major funding campaigns can be complex, challenging, and time-consuming projects.

How do you know when your organization is ready for a major campaign?

Answer the following questions to help determine if your non-profit organization is ready for a major campaign.

  • Do you have strategic short and/or long-range plans for your organization?
  • Are your organization’s key stakeholders, such as the board, executive director, and key volunteers committed to investing energy, time and money?
  • What is your organization’s image in the community?
  • Does your organization have enough staff to handle campaign activities or will you need professional counsel?
  • Does your organization have a current fund development (fundraising) plan?
  • What have you done to test your case and campaign goal and recruit campaign leadership?
  • Do you know how to best utilize your volunteer and staff resources?
  • Does your organization have a strong public relations plan to complement your campaign?
  • Have you identified the current and potential donors who have the capacity to make significant contributions?
  • Are you prepared to create solicitation strategies for each donor?
  • Does your organization have a campaign gift policy?
  • Do you have a plan for collection and pledge redemption?

 

A common mistake made by non-profit organizations is lack of preparation when it comes to major fundraising campaigns. While the questions above should be answered before nearly every funding initiative, preparation of your organization’s most aggressive project will determine its success.

Engage children in family philanthropy

The future leadership of communities lies in the hands of children. In addition to quality education, philanthropy provides a great tool for childhood and community development.

Involving your children, no matter the age, in philanthropy is a great way to teach values of community, charity and helping your fellow man. In addition to learning from their idols (their parents/family leaders), children can practice goodwill by participating in their family’s giving plan.

A few ways children can serve as “young” philanthropists include:

  • Donating gently used toys, books and clothes to other children who may benefit
  • Redirecting birthday and holiday gifts to other children or organizations
  • Special occasions (such as birthdays, first communions, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations) which are promoted with invitations and recognized with gifts, can encourage giving contributions to local charities in lieu of gifts
  • Volunteering with family members at local missions, food distribution centers, and special events
  • Participating in youth giving funds or circles

Family volunteering engages children in philanthropy and creates a unique way of spending time together. Ideas and opportunities are limitless and family fun is just one benefit. Subject matter during family meals and on family trips could be around service and community giving. Another idea could even be a volunteer activity on the family’s next vacation.

Involving children in a family’s giving or philanthropic activity can do wonders toward greater family connectivity and communication. Plus, it’ll teach children about appreciation, values, and communal support.

  

 

Organizational analysis could spur immediate opportunity

Have you ever conducted a third-party review of the non-profit organization you manage? If you’re a board member, have you ever seen an organizational review of the charitable organization?

You can find suitable ways to review your charity’s financial operations through internet searches. We recommend you take a look at those. We also suggest you consider a unique analytic system we created. It’s called HealthCheck. It closely resembles your own visit to your primary physician, who will conduct a review of your health and provide feedback and make suggestions.

 

HealthCheck is designed to provide research and organizational analysis to help organizations make strategic decisions…and help donors make wise charitable giving decisions.

Benefit to charity leaders…

Board and staff members of nearly every non-profit organization want organizational growth…all want money. Not every organization can hire new staff or add a consultant, but they want expertise and leverage to attract new supporters and help build confidence and relationships with existing donors and volunteers. We created HealthCheck to meet these needs in an affordable and hands-on manner. By doing so, we form an alliance with non-profit leaders, where we essentially work alongside, determining and implementing ways to strengthen the organization.

Benefit to donors…

When donors consider non-profit organizations for their contributions, a number of factors come into play, including the donor’s relationship, belief in the mission, and geographical location. Many times, this isn’t enough information for a prospective donor to render a decision. We created HealthCheck to deliver existing and prospective donors with a resource they can easily locate. Knowledge derived from our 40+ years of non-profit and corporate leadership experience were used to design a research and best practices tool, which gives donors all the information they need and in five key organizational strength indicators.
  

HealthCheck analyzes specific strength indicators, including:

Data & Efficiency – Analyzing IRS Forms 990 to evaluate a non-profit organization’s financial performance in key performance categories. Upon analyzing performance categories, we assign a score as it relates to the organization’s efficiency, capacity, and overall financial health.

Finance & Fund Development – Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. They must comply with all legal financial requirements and adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust. In addition, non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries and have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

Governance – A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Each non-profit board should: ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission and provide direction for the executive director and key staff; and evaluate its own effectiveness as a governing body and as representatives of the community in upholding the public interest served by the organization.

Human Resources – The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Non-profit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Public Information – Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. Donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.

   

Here are the outcomes…

After a very small investment ($45), the process begins with executive staff (or a board exec) honestly responding to sets of specific questions. The process can be relatively short. It will take about 20 minutes to answer online-based questions, then 24 hours for NPcatalyst to conduct research and prepare its findings.

When completed, the organization will be presented with a charity rating score, much like a grade earned on a test. Scores will be earned in the various areas of analysis, accompanied by an overall score. Organizations which seek greater detail may purchase a “best practices guide” to received recommended action items to improve each area of operation. The guide is intended to help the organization raise the rating score to 100.

Donors and prospective contributors enjoy seeing rating scores to accompany the research their conducting on charitable organizations, but also recognize the organization’s desire to diagnose various areas of operation.

 

Click here to indicate your interest to learn more about the unique HealthCheck system or to order the analysis.
 

 

 

Board Retreats – Do they need advanced planning?

Strong organizations are governed by outstanding leaders. Fueled with passion, experience, and commitment, the board members of non-profit organizations play vital roles in the direction, management and impact of these groups.

The strength of this leadership…and engagement…isn’t always immediately felt upon creating the board or recruiting the new board member. As with many great things, the strength of the board is developed over time, through active involvement, and organizational understanding. One proven method to mature leadership and, at the same time, create organizational opportunity is by conducting annual board retreats.

Board retreats are integral to each non-profit organization’s success. They present opportunities to plan for the future by blending the vast amount of leadership, experience, skills, and ideas of the board’s members. As a result, organizations run more smoothly, where board members are more connected, and the interpersonal relationships of board and staff are strong.

Retreats serve as great “starts” or re-freshers for both organizations and their leaders. The most successful retreats…those which set the stage for future success…follow four key steps.
1. Planning – defining the purpose; planning meetings; self-assessment; presentation materials
2. Engagement – clear agenda; board “buy in”; interactive and fun
3. Strategy – creating goals and action steps; measurable results
4. Follow-Through – developed through committee meetings; presented/reviewed at board meetings

A successful retreat hinges on the work of a well-focused team (board and staff), an interested and skilled facilitator, and a proactive agenda. Its success relies on the “buy in” and active involvement of its board members. This enables the board to openly challenge assumptions, address issues, foster interpersonal relationships, improve productivity, understand and clearly represent the mission/message, and develop strategies.

Have you scheduled your next board retreat? Whether it’s to address your organization’s board development, mission/vision, messaging/public relations, fund development, and/or strategic planning, now is the time to invest in your non-profit’s future.

Drive new funds for nonprofits through analysis

NPcatalyst has designed a system aimed at increasing significant support and awareness to deserving community-benefit organizations…and it doesn’t require a major investment of time or money. Introducing HealthCheck.

HealthCheck provides outstanding insight and information by analyzing organizations in five critical organizational management areas. The end result to charities provides:

  • Analysis of five vital areas (finances, governance, fund and finance development, human resources, public information)
  • Charity ratings for each area, as well as an overall score
  • Best practices tool featuring recommended strategies for improvement in the five areas
  • Coaching in the areas of fund development and board relations
  • A recommendation “classification” shared with potential contributors

Potential contributors (predominantly influential and affluential leaders) may research each participating charity by reviewing current, in-depth, and donor-minded data. These leaders, who represent NPcatalyst’s growing spectrum of corporate clients, partners, alliances, and donor connections, receive access to:

  • Recommended charity notifications
  • Examples of successful non-profit organizations and their associated programs
  • Tips and solutions for donor decision-making practices
  • Coaching on proper strategic giving methods, including corporate contributions, employee volunteerism, vendor and employee giving programs

For the price of one ink toner cartridge a month, your organization will be featured to thousands of current and aspiring philanthropists for the primary reason of generating financial contributions.

Strategic philanthropy creates outstanding opportunities for communities and businesses

Strategic philanthropy is an excellent way to combine company goals with a desire to create charitable goodwill. It’s meant to foster company business growth through targeted giving that corresponds to company interests. At the core of its design, strategic philanthropy is result-oriented, targeting specific goals; developing defined strategies; measuring progress; and determining success.

Companies utilizing philanthropic strategies offer employees opportunities to challenge themselves professionally through community leadership and volunteer pursuits. Community engagement presents opportunities to increase productivity and a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining skilled leaders. With an active community engagement program, companies benefit from team-building, leadership development and an employee-base of corporate ambassadors. This translates into bottom-line results for companies represented by satisfied employees, loyal customers and a strong community connection.

For companies seeking growth through strategic community impact, success is measured as much by social benefit as it is by improvements to the bottom line. Aligning corporate contribution with business objectives and interests is core to strategic philanthropy. These companies can indirectly market products and services, often to clearly defined market segments.

Creating a philanthropic strategy for you or your business is relatively simple. It starts by making a commitment to an effort driven at corporate growth and community impact. It continues by hiring a staff member or philanthropic advisor (like NPcatalyst), who will provide leadership and guidance by:

  • Assessing your philanthropic activity and culture
  • Understanding the local community
  • Identifying your connections, interests, community involvement, target audiences and business strategies
  • Designing the philanthropic strategy with measureable goals
  • Facilitating giving through the proper processing of solicitation requests
  • Measuring employee volunteerism and board leadership
  • Leveraging total community engagement for greater public image, customer loyalty, employee retention and, most of all, community impact.

 

Strategic philanthropy initiatives should serve as a link between core business strategies, community needs and personnel involvement. Through these connections, communities strengthened through their non-profit organizations gain long-lasting benefits and businesses generate growth through increased sales and revenue, and the active volunteerism of their employees.

Research and transparency can increase charitable support

Over the last five years, we’ve witnessed an interesting progression with donors and volunteers. As a result of charitable competition, economic forces, and electronic capacities, today’s donors are increasingly curious, analyze before acting, and desire greater connectivity. When donors consider non-profit organizations for their contributions, a number of factors come into play, including the donor’s relationship, belief in the mission, and geographical location. Many times, this isn’t enough information for a prospective donor to render a decision.

In an article, written by Forbes magazine columnist Matt Brady, last September, he wrote, “Since wealthy donors want greater impact and demonstrable results from their giving, the onus is increasingly on charities to provide greater transparency in how they are spending their money and more evidence of the effect of their efforts. Smaller, nimbler and more accountable charities are becoming increasingly attractive to donors vs. large, traditional ones.”

In our many conversations with donors and volunteers, they gain the most satisfaction when supporting efficient, well-operated organizations. When asked what they look for when determining their charitable support, the answers have fallen within the following five predominant categories:

Data & Efficiency

A review of financial information, such as figures found on IRS Forms, enables the donor to analyze a non-profit organization’s financial information. The donor can then determine organization’s efficiency, capacity, and overall financial health.

Finance & Fund Development

Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. They must comply with all legal financial requirements and adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust. In addition, non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries and have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

Governance

A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Each non-profit board should: ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission and provide direction for the executive director and key staff; and evaluate its own effectiveness as a governing body and as representatives of the community in upholding the public interest served by the organization.

Human Resources

The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Non-profit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Public Information

Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. Donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.

We’re excited by this movement, as I believe we’ll see increases in financial and voluntary support as well as stronger organizations which receive the support. In fact, NPcatalyst has created a tool designed to drive support to non-profit organizations while, at the same time, rating each organization according to the various performance indicators. It’s called NPHealthCheck and can be found at www.npcatalyst.com.

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Non-profit sector provides economic strength

 

Attending the Reno 2020 Forum last week reminded me of the impact the non-profit sector has on local communities. I was impressed by the Forum, but was disappointed by the absence of the words “non-profit” and “community organizations” from the dialogue.

Local economies are driven by the public, private and non-profit sectors. As local residents know, the non-profit sector in Washoe County is diverse and growing. Contributing to the overall health of our economy, non-profit organizations generate revenue from outside sources, provide jobs, and circulate money through the economy.

I’ve spent my entire career in the non-profit sector because of my belief that its organizations provide tools for community building, foster civil society, and strengthen our social fabric, making northern Nevada an incredible place to live and work.

As I was sitting among well over 200 other leaders at the Forum, I used my Blackberry search the National Center for Charitable Statistics to substantiate my thoughts about the significance the non-profit sector plays on the local economy.

I found an impressive number of charts, which provided a wealth of information including one illustrating the growing number of non-profit organizations in northern Nevada.

Year #Charities
1995 1,316
2000 1,520
2005 1,744
2010 2,093

 

That’s a very large number of organizations seeking to improve our local quality of life. As of November 2010, there were 2,093 non-profit entities located in Washoe County.

One other chart was even more impressive. To preview, the Center’s charts broke its reports down to three different types of non-profit organizations, described as:

  • Public (501c3) Charities include most nonprofit organizations involved in the arts, education, health care, human services, and community service, as well as many others;
  • Private (501c3) Foundations primarily include organizations that make grants to other nonprofits;
  • Other (exempt) Non-profits registered with the IRS include trade unions, business leagues, social and recreational clubs, and veterans associations classified under varying sections of the IRS code.

 

Type of Non-profit Organization # Filed Form990 $ Assets
Public (501c3) Charities 815 $ 1,970,798,737
Private (501c3) Foundations 212 1,965,018,292
Other Non-profits 436 311,675,867
All 1,463 $ 4,247,492,896

 

Of the 2,093 non-profit organizations located in Washoe County, exactly 1,463 organizations filed Form 990s. As of November 2010, the combined revenue of charities which filed was $1,394,459,945 for the previous twelve months.

The figures are correct. The strength of the organizations which filed 990’s is noteworthy, as they hold over $4 billion in assets and generate nearly $1.4 billion in annual revenue.

The non-profit sector not only represents a significant amount of the employment and wages in Washoe County, but also contributes to quality of life issues. Northern Nevadans have access to quality healthcare, education, job training, social activities, and recreation because of this important sector of our economy.

When looking at the non-profit sector, it’s time to recognize it as not just a source of outstanding community support, but a sector of strength and economic importance.

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Looking for Volunteers? We have the answer!

Central to the core of our corporate mission is linking community supporters with local non-profit organizations. One of the ways we have made successful matches has been by connecting aspiring community leaders with local organizations. We now wish to provide “job” opportunities presented by local charities.

If you’re seeking volunteers to fill specific roles, make sure to complete our Job Posting Form, also featured on our website.

Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to complete our Volunteer Match Form, which will be used to help match to local opportunities.

More information can be found on our website, under the “Matchmaking” button.

Designing charitable media partnerships with local television network

NPcatalyst has been engaged by Reno’s KOLO-TV to help position the network as a leader within the local non-profit community. We’re designing a campaign to provide local charities with outstanding television and online promotional opportunities. The award-winning television network will host a reception solely for non-profit leaders on Wednesday, January 26 at 1:30pm in the KOLO-TV production studio to describe the exciting new campaign, which has been created specifically for non-profits in northern Nevada.

Whether you can attend the reception or not, non-profit leaders interested in participating in the campaign are asked complete a brief participation form, located at http://www.kolotv.com/community/misc/103639589.html.