Tag Archives: leadership

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.

How board members can increase funding without asking for money

 

One of the biggest fears shared by charitable board members is the fear of asking for money. For most charities, raising funds through board members is a duty and, quite frankly, an obligation. But, when push comes to shove, few board members enjoy tapping their friends, co-workers, and fellow community leaders for financial support. Serving on several boards and directly working with many more, I can readily sense board members who dislike soliciting donations.

But why does there need to be such a fear about raising funds?

Board members are typically recruited to non-profit organizations because of their professional or community influence and affluence. They bring significant experience, knowledge, and connections…the ingredients necessary to represent, govern and generate support for the organizations they serve.

When asked about the sources of resistance, the responses I repeatedly receive include the fear of being asked to return the favor to support a different organization; or fear in receiving a negative response; or, fear of potentially impairing a relationship with a co-worker, client, or vendor. These are tough situations for a board member and, quite honestly, future board members.

Here’s my advice to board members who are hesitant or concerned about asking others for charitable donations.

Work with the charity’s staff leadership, specifically the executive and/or development director, to identify prospective donors with whom you have connections. These can be individuals, businesses, and foundations.

Take it a step further by helping them craft a solicitation strategy for each prospect. While each prospective donor may require a different approach, an appropriate amount of cultivation will advance the relationship-building process between the charity and the potential donor.

One very simple, yet effective action you can take is scheduling an initial meeting between the organization (represented by a lead staff or board member) and the prospect.

Creating the opportunity for the organization to identify and cultivate potential “investors” is what non-profit organizations would love to see from their board leaders. It’s quite possible that by taking these simple, yet effective, steps may influence the raising of more money than anticipated!

 

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.

  

 

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.

Charitable Giving…A Wise Investment

As business leaders, we’re often asked to donate to charity. Whether it’s in the form of personal contributions, direct corporate giving or corporate sponsorship, we receive requests on a regular basis.

Having served the non-profit sector for 25 years, I’m continually involved with corporate giving, either as a business owner or charitable volunteer. I’m frequently asked why businesses are called upon as often as they are. What I’ve grown to understand are two primary reasons:
1. Business leaders have direct access to marketing, advertising and charitable budget line items.
2. Business leaders understand non-profits and, in many cases, serve on non-profit boards.

There are many reasons why corporate leaders invest in charitable organizations. Businesses have an opportunity to make a difference and a dollar. Strong corporations invest in not-for-profit efforts to:

  • recognize and celebrate its corporate values
  • emphasize the importance of ethical business practices
  • provide positive public relations
  • build customer confidence
  • enhance employee morale
  • maintain philanthropic goodwill
  • increase sales leads and transactions
  • strengthen the community
  • And, of course, it’s the right thing to do.

All of this points to responsibility…a responsibility of businesses to increase revenues and a responsibility to help others.

Positioning corporate giving to be effective for both the business and the supported organizations is not a difficult process. It can be easily blended with existing marketing strategies or function separately from existing plans. Regardless of its official capacity within your business, here are suggestions to maximize your corporate giving.

  1. Assess current giving. Take a good, hard look at your past and current giving practices. What percentage of pre-tax profits is allocated for charitable pursuits? Review the organizations, purposes and methods of giving; then evaluate the benefits received. Can you identify a relationship to your corporate mission, marketing plan and staff connections?
  2. Design a strategy. As you plan your giving, consider your charitable budget. Identify the projects, organizations or sectors you wish to support. Determine the benefits, particularly outreach, sales leads, visibility and impact you wish to gain.
  3. Monitor contributions. Maintain relationships with the beneficiaries of your charitable investment to ensure proper delivery of benefits, use of funds and public awareness.
  4. Assess and plan. Evaluate the effectiveness of the giving strategy and its execution. Make changes, design a new strategy, identify new beneficiaries; all are actions you will likely address to strengthen your charitable giving plan.

Corporate leaders recognize the difficulty in giving away money, particularly marked by a lack of information, guidance and tools required to make wise decisions. Being able to identify the best for-profit investments is a hugely valuable talent and a massive industry has grown up around it. Solid nonprofit analysis is just as valuable.

No matter what strategy you use to make your charitable giving decisions, it makes good business sense to ensure effectiveness, both to the beneficiary and your corporation. A properly executed giving program will generate tremendous value through community impact and revenue generation.

Seven tips for fundraising success

 

Raising funds for charitable organizations can be difficult; certainly time-consuming. It’s a patient process, requiring considerable research, planning, and organization. The word “development” is a perfect fit to the process an organization goes through to generate a meaningful contribution.

When it comes to raising funds for your organizations, here’s a handful of tips to consider adding to your overall fund development strategy. They have represented the centerpiece of our success. They’re not listed in any specific order, but you’ll quickly recognize where and how they fit in your strategy.
   
Identify strengths and weaknesses

Understand the organization – from operations to personnel to policies to financial management. Recognize the causes and implement solutions to each. Be sure to dot every “I” and cross every “t”.

Offer innovative giving

The one constant between most non-profit organizations is the ability to accept cash contributions. Every donor knows this. However, savvy donors (charitable investors) seek greater information, transparency, accountability, and results from their contributions. A strong percentage of them seek unique and innovative giving methods.

Create solicitation strategies

Know your constituents. An engaged leader is a gem and, as nonprofit leaders, it’s our obligation to strive for their full potential. One great way to really get to know supporters is to design solicitation (or engagement) strategies for each. Start by creating a Prospect/Donor Profile for each, used to document their interest, involvement, willingness, and capability. Mapping a solicitation strategy will force you to be strategic about cultivating each constituent’s involvement. This one act involves and is influenced by the other six tips offered here.

Engage constituents

From prospect identification to board leadership to donor stewardship, your benefactors are your organization’s greatest vehicles of success. Engage them through key steps of the fund development process. You’ll be amazed at their ideas, insight, and perseverance.

Generate active awareness

Tell your story to the world. Shout it regularly through local media and through your social media avenues. Be sure you focus on strengths and opportunities and that any weaknesses are addressed. Distribute clear messages and keep your messaging timely. Encourage staff, volunteers, and donors to share the messages through personal, personable, and electronic means.

Network

It’s a seven-letter word that, for many non-profit leaders, is more like a four-letter word – work. There’s no better way to prospect new supporters, whether they’re future volunteer or donor leaders. It involves stepping out of your routine, forces you to fine-tune your 30-second elevator speech, and smile even if you’re having a difficult day. Ask any business leader, networking produces results. Get out there and make friends and share your organization’s story, needs, and opportunities.

Steward donors

Perhaps the most detrimental cause of recent organizational failure might not have been solely the economic crash. Is your organization at fault for not properly recognizing donations and, more importantly, developing strong relationships with its donors? Stewarding donors strengthens the lifeblood of non-profit organizations. Pick up the phone, send an email, direct a tweet, say hello in the store, high-five at a ballgame, and send a card. These are the little ways that magnify the “engage constituents” tip into truly rewarding alliances. Make each donor feel as if he/she is in the middle of the game.

 

Perhaps one that should be listed is “have fun”…development and non-profit leadership should be exciting, rewarding, meaningful, challenging, and fun. Make the most of it!

 

Survey instrument a primer for ideal board strategic planning

Assessment solution

Conducting annual board evaluations is an ideal solution to strengthening charitable boards and their organizations. For some organizations, they can be difficult to plan, cumbersome to coordinate, and last minute activities. To ease the burden and, more importantly, deliver a clear understanding of board leadership, we’ve designed a board analysis survey tool entitled BoardCheck.

BoardCheck targets a non-profit organization’s growth through the voices of its board leaders. The instrument takes a snapshot of the organization’s makeup and activity by identifying its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. The data then forms the foundation of strategic planning initiatives.

BoardCheck is designed to serve as a tool for non-profit growth through the voices of board leaders. Best utilized prior to board retreats and strategic planning processes, BoardCheck is an instrument which takes a snapshot of a non-profit’s current organizational makeup and activity, analyzes it, and identifies strengths and weaknesses…all stemming from their own board members. All analytical information is derived from a 30+ question survey completed by board members.

workshop-boardcheck-screen

The survey captures information in the following areas.

  • Mission and vision
  • Board development
  • Marketing, messaging, and community interaction
  • Board culture
  • Leadership and involvement
  • Organizational health
  • Board activity
  • Personal involvement
  • Expertise and skills

 

Particularly advantageous to an upcoming board retreat, strategic planning process, or annual review, the BoardCheck survey features questions to identify key topics, board/organization priorities, recommendations and vision…in written-form from each board member.

BoardCheck is an ideal tool for boards of non-profit organizations of all sizes.

The value of BoardCheck is found in the third-party nature of the assessment. The tool allows board members to rate, rank, and share personal comments about the organization at their convenience and in the comfortable setting of their own home or office. The analysis provided through the survey and, any review/recommendation shared by NPcatalyst is conducted in an unbiased fashion.

Designed as solution for 501c3 organizations, BoardCheck is easily applicable membership, school PTA, and fraternal organizations. All data is held in strict confidence and is property of the participating organization. The information is not released, traded, or sold.

Click here to learn more about the BoardCheck board assessment tool.

  

We’ve designed a career solutions company

In a partnership formed Pete (our managing partner) and two other corporate and philanthropic leaders, a new career solutions company was created. Greek Ladders is a resource for college students seeking information and connections to properly launch their careers. Simultaneously, businesses and charities leverage the Greek Ladders network to identify ideal candidates for their internship and full-time employment openings.

Creating the company was in response to several factors. The common theme among recent graduates is the disadvantage they’re at slide-greekladders-sitewhen searching for full-time employment. Students have dedicated their college years to preparing for meaningful careers by focusing on academics. By the time they decide to look for a job, many others have beat them to the punch. Factor in extraordinarily high unemployment rates, recent graduates face competition for jobs from those with greater experience and measurable performances, most of whom require less training. It’s possible that these same students may also have waited until graduation or some point during their senior years to begin their job searches. This really puts them behind the curve, further decreasing the likelihood of obtaining their ideal job in a timely manner.

Recognizing these issues, three corporate and non-profit leaders sharing a strong affinity to the Greek System, joined forces to create a solution. The primary goal – to create an opportunity for students to interface with employers, and vice-versa, as a vehicle to give Greeks a “leg up” in the employment recruitment process. Beyond the connection, the partners are adding leadership/career development training resources and strategic partners to essentially coach the students, guiding them toward successful interactions, interviews, and job performance.

The vision for Greek Ladders is simple – facilitate outstanding and mutually-beneficial relationships between students and employers.

Greek Ladders features a website, where job-seekers (primarily students, but also alumni and parents)  and employers (non-profits, businesses) make connections. Its career network highlights hundreds of student and employer profiles, as well as full-time and internship job postings. Students manage their own profiles containing their resumes, academic information, chapter and campus involvement, career objectives, and more for employers to become familiar with prospective employment candidates.

The Greek Ladders network, which is free for job-seekers, features leadership development and career preparation resources. Taking the form of webinars, videos, podcasts, and tutorials, these resources can be utilized by our members to enhance their profiles and learn new skills, thus making us more appealing to prospective employers.

For employers, Greek Ladders provides advantages over other similar companies, like Monster and Career Builder. Employers are directly linked to applicants in a specialized setting. In fact, employers leverage the partnership to essentially take all of today’s college students and siphon them into a single pool (or network) of outstanding potential candidates. One step further, these applicants are qualified, given their aptitude of social, leadership, and organizational skills and activity within the Greek Ladders network. Basic employer registration into the network is free.

If you’re curious about joining the Greek Ladders network as a student or employer, these links should provide you with plenty of information:

In addition, you may send an email to info@greekladders.com or call  775-333-9444 .

Amazing community opportunities in the Old Pueblo

Summer has been extremely busy for the NPcatalyst team. Rather than spend the warm months surfing waves in the Pacific or backpacking along the Tahoe Rim Trail, we’ve been serving clients and connecting with corporate and charitable leaders across the country.

This past weekend was spent in Tucson, where we met with numerous non-profit officials, social entrepreneurs, and new strategic partners. Here’s a brief list of our new friends:

  • Beads of Courage – an incredible organization which distributes beads to children being treated for cancer throughout the world.
  • TreeHouse Farm – an organization which provides an unforgettable experience for children recovering from cancer treatment, serious burns, and congenital heart issues.
  • The Haven – extraordinary organization which provides substance abuse treatment and housing for men and women.
  • Arizona Oncology Foundation – a new organization which provides support programs for cancer patients and survivors.
  • One-on-One Mentoring – an organization which matchs caring adults with at-risk youth.
  • Pima Prevention Partnership – provides practical solutions to address both individual and community problems, particularly substance abuse related.

They were all introduced to our services, particularly our online gifting tool, GiftingWishes, and our BoardCheck assessment resource.

Saturday was spent in a retreat with one of our new strategic partners. This soon-to-be-launched company will provide job recruitment, leadership development, and career development opportunities to both college students and employers. Much more to follow soon.

It was just another amazing weekend. We hope it leads to many opportunities to continue helping enhance the philanthropic culture in the Old Pueblo. Plus, we may have even landed a new job for a Tucson resident!

Thank you, Tucson, for your hospitality, heat, and spectacular sunsets!

Offer for free board assessment ends soon

On the first of this month, we issued an offer to conduct a complimentary board assessment for interested non-profit organizations. There are no restrictions, such as size, location, or sector of the organization. Our desire was to celebrate the start of the new fiscal period with something of benefit to organizations, by showcasing our BoardCheck service.

The deadline to apply is July 15th.

BoardCheck targets a non-profit organization’s growth through the voices of its board leaders. This proven instrument takes a snapshot of the organization’s makeup and activity, thus identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

Conducting annual board evaluations is an ideal solution to strengthening charitable boards and their organizations. For some organizations, they can be difficult to plan, cumbersome to coordinate, and last minute activities. This new survey tool eases the burden and, more importantly, delivers a clear understanding of board leadership.

BoardCheck is delivered in three specific solutions:

  • Raw Survey Results – Your organization will receive a basic summary of survey responses. –  Offer — FREE (typically $129)
  • Results Presentation – Your organization will receive a presentation complete with statistical and graphical results, prepared in a retreat/meeting-ready format.  –  Offer — 50% off (typically $295)
  • Presentation with Analysis – Your organization will receive the presentation-ready report, complete with an analysis of survey results and recommendations –  Offer — 50% off (typically $495)

 

CLICK HERE if you’re interested in taking advantage of the offer or receiving more information. The offer ends July 15th.