The Nonprofit Sector’s Most Pressing Issues: The C-Level Exec’s Point of View, Part 2
“Make sure you provide tools to staff so they understand the numbers and short term vs. long term — make it basic and simple so everyone understands,” McGregor said. “Really understand the implications of each decision, and play with variables. Get both levels on the same page.”
Tandon added his three keys: walking, leading and prodding — as in, walk the board through each decision, lead them toward the goals and prod them to make the necessary changes. For example, Tandon said that he finds a three-year budgeting plan works better than a one-year focus on budgeting. It allows for greater long-term planning, while the quarterly reviews address short-term issues.
Further, Tandon offered this advice:
- Recognize expenditures, and talk the board's language.
- Demonstrate consistent improvement in long-term donor value.
- Show real numbers, consistent performance and help the board change the lens through which it looks.
Don’t skimp on acquisition
Harrison asked if anyone has had someone say, “We need to cut the acquisition budget,” and said that cutting acquisition “has a devastating impact."
“Sometimes it’s pretty easy to acquire new donors; sometimes it’s incredibly difficult,” he added. “But you always have to do it and keep growing to survive. If you cut acquisition, it puts you in a death spiral.”
“I would probably say, ‘Shut up!’ to anyone who asked me to cut the acquisition budget,” Aloma deadpanned. “It’s very shortsighted thinking.
“When times are tough, go against intuitive thinking and invest. Do stuff, try new things instead of cutting back acquisition. Dive into lapsed donors, guerrilla fundraising, social media — there are lots of things that don’t take lots of money. But don’t cut back on acquisition.”
Aloma also said to keep major donors engaged and treat them well — call them, write them, thank them, give them more information.