The last two years have been stressful to be in nonprofit management. Between canceling vital fundraising events, losing corporate partners and other funders, and being unable to fulfill funder requirements for grants, most nonprofits had to be nimble.
Innovation, change, and continuous learning were key during the pandemic; be it for finding ways to reach donors through online channels, finding corporate sponsorships for virtual events, or soliciting online donations from existing donors who had never given online. 53% of nonprofits said they had to launch special appeals during the pandemic. And 32% of the organizations in and outside of the US had to adjust and expand their focus toward COVID-19 programs. But slowly, these changes became the new norm and the nonprofit world is now learning to evolve in the right direction.
With this article, we want to help nonprofits stop surviving the change and instead, take it on themselves to find success with these 7 effective nonprofit management tips.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it pays to be flexible. The past years required nonprofit leaders to adapt quickly to the new environment, shifting to providing virtual services, finding creative ways to evolve their programs, and managing their nonprofits with courage. A COVID-19 survey said that according to 40.5% of nonprofit leaders, adaptability was the most important trait they used to succeed during that time, followed by creativity at 16.22%. Adaptability is key in nonprofit management and the coming years are only going to bring more potential for quick-thinking creativity.
Ways to prepare your nonprofit for change:
The paradigm shift caused by the pandemic, along with an increase in millennial and even gen Z donors, means your nonprofit needs to find an approach to fundraising that appeals to a younger audience, with slightly different giving preferences. These generations now make up more than half of the US population and 95% use smartphones. Here are some startling facts about these donors you must know as a nonprofit leader.
What does this mean for your nonprofit?
Once you understand how the fundraising landscape has been affected by the past year, it’s time to come up with an actionable plan to make your future fundraising the best it can be.
With an understanding of how younger donors think and what they look for in a nonprofit, you can strategize to find the best way to target new donors and cultivate existing donors into long-term supporters. Here are a few ways to better connect with all your donors and improve fundraising efforts through content in your organization.
Being creative with your strategies will help you maintain your fundraising goals and maybe even surpass them.
To have the right fundraising strategy, you need the right tools. Even before the pandemic, fundraising was moving more and more into the digital world. Now, it is all the more so. Even the baby boomers are these days expecting to find online giving options on charity websites. They’ve come to understand the reliability of these payment options.
Here are some easy ways to revamp your fundraising process for efficiency and ease of access.
Streamlining how you handle donations on the backend can simplify work chains for your employees, giving them more time to focus on things that really matter. With the right tools, this and the coming years could be smooth(er) sailing.
It’s time to have leadership that reflects the diverse communities your nonprofit serves. Your board members are stewards of your organization, each with different assets that they bring to lift up your organization’s mission through careful management oversight, donor cultivation, corporate connections, and more.
Your board should reflect the diversity of the community your nonprofit serves. This allows your nonprofit to gain useful connections with all members of the community, leading to potential new donors and collaborations. It also shows the community that you value expanding your organization’s cultural awareness.
When you have a difficult management decision to review, having a diverse board can lead to better decision-making. All opportunities and potential downsides can be considered. Actively diversifying keeps your board fresh—broadening networks, social circles, and cultivation potential. Maintaining a diverse board can improve the culture of your nonprofit and make your employees feel more recognized as a member of your team.
Consider where your nonprofit is headed. What will you need from future board members? Think about things like networks, skills, life experience, and involvement. Share this discussion with your current board members. Keeping them in the loop about any searches for new board members keeps them up-to-date and allows them to consider their own contacts as potential candidates.
With your board, develop a plan that includes attainable goals and a timeline. An example would be a plan to recruit two new board members that fit your nonprofit’s needs by the end of the year. Avoid tokenism by considering how to improve your overall board culture. New voices are most effective on a board when they make up 30% of the total board or at least three people. Make new board members feel comfortable by incorporating social time before or after board meetings.
Diversifying your board is an important tip for successful nonprofit management and it will only continue to serve your nonprofit with new ideas, connections, and leadership strengths in years to come.
Remember that as hard as the pandemic felt from the management side, your employees also felt the effect of this new work environment. Whether they were able to work from home or were still going to the office, or even out in the field to support your mission, these years likely took a toll on them.
Creating a better culture starts with treating your employees with respect and care. After all, they’re the ones who actively carry out your mission and support your nonprofit’s goals. While you ultimately have to consider the needs of your nonprofit first and foremost, finding synchronicity with your staff and your needs will create an environment where your employees are happy to go to work.
Employee wellness means that your employees feel like more than their basic needs are being met. They should feel properly supported and appreciated, with an emphasis on work-life balance that often gets overlooked in the nonprofit world.
If you don’t have the bandwidth to implement sweeping new employee wellness programs, start small! Think about what you can do. Talk to your board to see what seems reasonable—they might have great suggestions that can work well within any budget.
This one may seem obvious, but after all of the different pressure points over the past couple of years, it can be easy to forget your original goal. You should celebrate your ability to adapt to unstable times and use what you’ve learned to refocus and regain momentum. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to consider how your mission has been served over the last year and how it needs to be served going forward.
Reflecting on this gives you and your team the chance to figure out what worked well and what’s worth keeping. Consider what changes or actions will help you continue to serve your mission this year. You and your team might perform a SWOT analysis to consider these changes—looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to figure out how your recent adaptations can serve you in the future.
If your nonprofit pivoted a little during the pandemic, chances are it was to serve your community in new and urgent ways. This is not a bad thing! There’s also a good chance you’re still performing some of these activities that felt so new only a year ago. Take a step back to see how they fit with your original mission. What’s most important to your community? Talk with your board to see how—or if—your mission needs to grow to accommodate this new activity in the long term.
If you do need to tweak your mission statement, looking at recent examples is a helpful way to see how other nonprofits have taken on this challenge.
Whether you changed your programming last year or not, the current year will likely ask for some different ways of measuring success. The good news is that you have control over these measurement techniques and can set goals in a way that feels helpful to the day-to-day realities of your organization. Whether you measure by community members served, number of resources distributed, amount of aid given, or virtual audience members—come up with a metric that makes sense for your mission.
Any adaptation only makes the fabric of your nonprofit stronger. At the end of the day, your goal as a nonprofit is to help—and if that’s what you’ve done, feel good knowing that you can continue that important goal in the present and the coming years.
Not even the best nonprofit trend predictor could have predicted what the pandemic brought to our doorsteps. But with some good commonsense approaches and an eye toward adaptability, most nonprofits managed to bring about a huge success in helping lives across the globe. Remember to appreciate all your nonprofit has done. It may be time to revamp and reestablish systems that work better than the old way we did things, but you should never feel like your work is for nothing. That’s the wonderful upside of working in nonprofit management—no matter what, your work is for good.
Donorbox is an all-in-one online fundraising solution with robust and simple-to-use features that have helped 50,000+ nonprofits across 40 countries across the world. Know about our features here.
For more tips and insights to carry you through this year and beyond, check out the rest of our nonprofit blog. Subscribe to our Youtube channel for helpful visual guides, webinars, and demo videos for better fundraising and nonprofit management.