By Cate Redfern, CFRE at Adansonia Consulting

We’ve heard a lot about how nonprofits can expect the next few years to be challenging and interesting as the regulatory landscape that affects nonprofits goes through extensive changes. However, as I’ve said before, as scary as this may seem, I do anticipate this being a great opportunity for growth and positive change in the nonprofit sector as nonprofits learn how to become more responsive and innovative in how they deal with change. So let’s look at how nonprofits can start the process of becoming responsive and innovative in a strategic and intentional way. It all centers around setting goals, managing expectations, and insuring that your actions have the greatest possible positive impact for the causes you care about.

We’ll start by exploring what you can do to make sure that you can respond easily and effectively to changes in your operating environment. Things to consider would be:

  • do you have a strategic plan with clearly defined goals and a detailed action plan that will help you get there?
  • are your daily tasks geared toward achieving your mission through your existing programs and services?
  • are your human and financial resources allocated in the most effective way possible?
  • are your goals measurable, and do you have an evaluation plan to measure your activity against your goals, and a strategy to respond if you are not meeting your goals, or if your goals need to change?
  • do you have a fundraising plan for your daily operational needs, and a plan to build or increase your emergency fund?
  • are you reaching out to your donors in a way that makes them feel like they are valued and partners in your mission, and not just like they are an ATM?
  • does your storytelling effectively demonstrate the impact that your donor’s dollars are having on your community through the programs and services that you provide?
  • have you sought out partnerships with other complementary nonprofits in your community, so that you can work together and pool your resources to provide good quality services and programs to your clients at a lower cost, because you are not duplicating work?
  • if you anticipate needing to adjust your services and programs to meet a growing constituency with fewer resources, do you have a plan to proactively make these changes and communicate them to your clients and donors, so that they understand how they may be affected while still feeling supported?
  • is your board of directors committed and equipped to navigating change in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner?
  • do you have donor acquisition and retention strategies across multiple channels that take into account the growing impact of online giving, and addresses the increasing number of women and Millennials among donors? The economic influence of both of these groups is increasing, and reaching them requires expanding beyond traditional solicitation into multichannel solicitation targeted to their unique motivators and need to be part of the solution, beyond just making a donation.
  • does your fundraising strategy effectively reflect the where the sector expects donor dollars to originate – 70% from individuals; 16% from foundations; 8% from bequests and only 5% from corporations.
  • does your fundraising plan include donor solicitation and engagement across multiple channels, each with their own unique messaging and target segmentation strategy, e.g. mobile fundraising, email fundraising, social media fundraising, peer to peer fundraising and crowdfunding, online web-based fundraising?

I’ll be providing more food for thought for each of these questions in upcoming posts. In the meantime, I’ll be presenting a session, “Demystifying Strategic Planning” at the CSPRC’s 2017 Spectrum Conference in St. Louis on May 9, 2017. You can find out more about the many great educational sessions targeted to the St. Louis Region’s nonprofit sector, and benefit from early bird registration before March 24th, here.