Thriving in a New Reality
A big part of making that dream a reality is to develop a plan with the necessary steps for getting there. It's critical to create goals and put them in writing, whether it's a simple one-pager or a more complex document. Operational plans — for development or advancement, a targeted annual fund drive, strategic communications, or services your organization provides — allow your organization to focus and support a broader vision.
For nonprofits, a strategic plan with a three- to five-year horizon, revisited regularly and formally benchmarked annually, is essential. Have an engaging planning process; a dynamic plan pays off exponentially. However, be sure to gain closure. We've seen some organizations spend well over a year to create a three-year plan! Build your plan on experience, but also on determination and hope.
3. Lead to inspire. Difficult times require proactive leaders who see and pursue opportunities — leaders who know the value of a team, and who coach and mentor staff and volunteers, as well as listen intently and take counsel. Being trustworthy and self-assured goes a long way in inspiring others to follow a plan with an eye on the future.
In times of belt- tightening, donors want extra assurance that their donations will be handled intelligently and with integrity. This issue was heavy on the minds of a group of Rotarians I recently spoke with. After making a presentation on philanthropy in America, the question-and-answer session focused on nonprofit ethics. As nonprofit leaders — professionals or board members — we have both a moral and legal obligation to safeguard the institution.
4. Communicate for impact. Poor communication has derailed more causes than an economy ever has. Create a sound communications strategy, and be consistent. Your team must implicitly know and understand your mission: Where are you going and why? Be clear and concise. Simple language is always best.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.