It’s that time — the annual ritual of writing resolutions for a new year. For some, the exercise is clarifying; for others, it’s frustrating. More often than not, the goals we hope to accomplish quickly fade once the busyness of our daily lives gets back into motion.
To help kick start your year, we’re sharing our three resolutions for the nonprofit sector. We hope they bring clarity to your work and result in increased prosperity for 2020.
- Focus more on relationships and less on transactions.
Cash flow is a challenge. Making up for a lost grant is difficult. Balancing the budget is demanding. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to secure a short-term win by chasing dollars or treating donors like an ATM. Because when you do, you don’t build donor loyalty — you sacrifice it.
Examine your donor retention rate. What was it last fiscal year? What about two or three fiscal years ago? What is it today? These key data points will tell you about the health of your donor relationships and the effectiveness of your fundraising strategies. Focus on reconnecting with former donors and stewarding current ones. When you do, you will find more joy in the work.
- Advocate for your mission with elected officials.
This is a huge election year and politics will be at the forefront of our personal and professional lives. Certainly, there are restrictions on what 501(c)(3) nonprofit leaders can do or say regarding elections and candidates for office, but lobbying is not the same as advocating. Your local elected officials should know you and they should know the impact your mission has on the constituencies they serve.
Focus on city and county officials, but don’t leave out state or federal offices, as they too need to understand the issues of your community and why your work matters. Building relationships with elected officials and their staff will have an impact on policy making and funding opportunities. BoardSource has resources to help you build your skills as an advocate.
- Say “thank you for your service” to those who are no longer contributing to the mission.
Board members who rarely show up or who have to be asked time and again for their annual contribution. Staff members whose skills are no longer a fit or whose passion for the work has been exhausted. Chief executives whose leadership is no longer effective. Legacy volunteers who don’t recognize the changing dynamics of how the organization now operates.
Your mission is too critical to have people — paid or volunteer — who no longer move the organization forward in ways that meet the ever-evolving demands of our time. It may be that the person is in the wrong seat. If so, make that change. But it may be that it’s time to say, “thank you for your service” and “goodbye.” This can be hard, especially here in the Midwest where we are known for being nice. Don’t let the anxiety of those conversations prevent you from making the right decision. The stakes are too high.
It’s a new year. We wish you a happy and a healthy 2020.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO