A Better Way: How to Build a Brave New World of Giving

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By Sharon Danosky

For many years and in many presentations (including my own), fundraising experts have talked about the need to pivot to donor-centered fundraising.  However, it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit, and events were eliminated from our fundraising tactics, that nonprofits began to understand what that means.

It means making a real and honest connection with your donors.

The data has continuously shown us that donors want to engage.  They want to know that their contributions are received and being put to good use.  They want to know the difference they and you are making.  Some want to be considered partners; others want to be thought of as long-distance relatives.  None want to be ignored.  That is why the connection that many nonprofits have been making with their donors during this time is resonating.

As nonprofits have successfully used this time to call and reach out to their donors – they have been met with pleasant surprises.  Donors enjoy hearing how their nonprofit is doing.  They appreciate going on a zoom call to learn more about how the organization is faring and innovating.  They are grateful to learn how their money has been used.

So – what comes next? [Read more…]

Do You Need to Pivot Your Mission?

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By Sharon Danosky

Mission is probably the most sacrosanct part of any nonprofit organization.   It’s the reason your nonprofit was founded.  It’s been your touchstone for all the years you’ve been operating.  It’s on your business cards, the walls of your organization.  You review it while developing your strategic plan.

In the past few months, many nonprofits have struggled to deliver the services promised by their missions.  And some have found interesting ways to do so.  Groups that traditionally offer mentoring services began providing food to the community.  One Goodwill closed its doors, but not its services; it began locating, gathering, cleaning and delivering scrubs to a visiting nurse association.     Another organization which provides financial literacy courses for students, started leveraging their relationships with school teachers, social workers and administrators to connect them with some of their partners directly so they could help students and families pay for essentials.

Now, more than ever, boards and executive directors must examine their mission and ask the difficult questions.  Why was our organization founded?  What was our purpose then and what is our purpose now?  Are we filling our purpose in the best way possible?

I like to think of mission as a moral compass, the true north for an organization.  As you consider which programs to re-open, which should remain closed and which should be delivered differently, re-visit your mission.   How does this decision re-inforce your mission?  How will it impact the people you were meant to serve?

We know that this pandemic has heightened the gross inequities in our society.  As we begin to emerge from this pandemic; we have the opportunity to create a more just and equitable world – and nonprofits are on the front line of this.  This is the time to ask ourselves whether we are meeting the needs for which we were founded and our missions were written?

Board Considerations: The Importance of a COVID-19 Task Force

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By Sharon Danosky

As discussions begin to emerge on reopening our state, board members in partnership with executive directors should be advancing their own discussions about how to effectively and safely re-open their own organizations. The strength of a board is the different perspectives, and experience they bring to the discussion, just by asking some critical questions:


1) How can we keep our staff healthy as we re-open?
2) How can we meet the needs of our constituents, especially those most vulnerable populations?
3) How can we mitigate potential risks?
4) What are potential legal considerations or ramifications?
5) What are the financial implications and do we have the necessary resources?
6) What does our financial picture look like over the comings weeks and months?
7) Can we sustain whatever plan we decide on?
8) How can we keep raising funds?
9) How do we roll out our communications?
10) Is our Business Continuity Plan on point – or how do we adjust it?


One way of addressing these questions and the many more questions that evolve is to set up a Task Force charged with addressing issues brought about by COVID 19 and the re-opening of your services. For those with a small board, your entire board can serve as your COVID-19 Task Force. There is minimal business as usual reporting going on – and most of your discussions are probably around COVID-19. For those with larger boards, a Task Force allows you to bring in expertise you might not have on your board – in HR, legal, financial, supply chain, communications, etc. You can also bring in that expertise if you are a smaller board.

All planning should be done in conjunction with your Executive Director – she/he or they are an important – even critical – part of this planning process. However, the Executive Director should not be charged with researching and making all these decisions alone or in a vacuum. A strong Board/Executive Director partnership will yield the best outcomes – for the organization and for the community.

 

Crisis Communications: Beyond the First Few Weeks

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By Sharon Danosky

We are now entering the sixth week of “Sheltering at Home.” Nothing seems normal, yet many have found a new routine and rhythm. And so it should be with your communications at this stage.

As you move through this extended crisis, maintaining communications with your constituents is vitally important. One and done just doesn’t work. Instead, this is the time to engage with your constituents – and particularly your donors.

During a crisis there are actually four phases to the communication process. Each requires different messaging which is based on the changing perspective and circumstances of your constituents – and your organization. If done well, each phase can strengthen the connection with your constituents and lead you to a having a stronger long-term relationship. [Read more…]

An Alternative to the “Virtual Event”

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By Sharon Danosky

I have been hearing and seeing questions about holding a “Virtual Event.”

First, I should probably state that I come from a place that believes people want to help when help is needed and that they do not need an event – virtual or otherwise – to give, and given generously.  All you need to do is ask authentically and let them know why you need their help.
In many ways events – including “virtual events” can detract from that.  It puts the focus on your event – and not your organization and its good deeds. [Read more…]