Your nonprofit board of directors has a definitive role to play within your organizations. Further, because of the fundraising challenges of this year, there’s a lot of work to recover. Fortunately, there’s time before the year-end for your directors to help you get everything sorted and back on track. In other words, the time for rebuilding together is now.
1. Mini-Strategic Plan Approved by Your Board of Directors
Because of the events of this year, the chances are your strategic plan is off-target. But that’s okay. One of the big lessons to realize is that we don’t know what can happen. Sure, we live in a very quick-paced world, yet we are facing a pandemic. As a result, for nonprofits to thrive, flexibility is essential. So, work with your board of directors to develop mini-plans based on your broader objectives. For example, take your longer-term strategic plan and break that down into smaller parts. Perhaps you decide to focus on growing your fundraising for the rest of the year.
Develop a plan for the next 3 to 6 months, focusing on one or two key areas. Then, make sure to clearly outline how the organization seeks to accomplish the goals, the timeline, and performance metrics. By drawing back your larger plan, you have the opportunity to focus on smaller, more achievable goals in a time of uncertainty. Your nonprofit directors play a critical role in helping you focus on the top priorities.
2. Staff Performance Review to Ensure You Have Full Resources
Your board of directors should take a look at the performance of the officers of the nonprofit. During a time of considerable uncertainty, you need to have all hands on deck. However, as a nonprofit leader, you also have to ensure that you have the right people at the more junior levels. Your nonprofit directors have a responsibility to assess the performance of the executive director, which is you. And, if they decide that it’s necessary to do it at this time, that’s a good thing. Some people are fantastic at directing in times of great crisis, but others are not.
Provided you and the nonprofit directors feel comfortable that you could guide your nonprofit through this shaky period, you need to look at your team. Again, you want to have on your side a group of top performers. And, you certainly don’t want to have people on your team who could undermine what you need to do. So, motivate and highlight individual, group, and organizational successes, but speak to focus on areas for improvement. Any work plan needs performance metrics that include staff performance and timelines to make evaluation easier. If possible, reward your employees with merit-based bonuses.
3. Financial Reviews by Nonprofit Directors
Many nonprofits start their fiscal year in July, so obviously, many will see a decline in fundraising. However, you and your board of directors have to remember that we will soon be in the holiday season and Giving Tuesday activities. And, as you know, this is an opportunity to attract new donors. First, work with your CFO and the appropriate board directors to prepare, review, and analyze all annual and fiscal reporting. It should include reviewing your budget, making any adjustments, and making preparations for the next fiscal year.
Once you have a perfect sense of the financial picture and monies you need to raise, it’s time to focus on fundraising. Yes, you still need to prioritize fundraising. And, one of the things you should do is to get creative on your fundraising. Meaning, look at new and innovative ideas and don’t just do business as usual. Check out Classy’s list of 25 fundraising ideas. Also, if you want to take a deep dive into fundraising ideas, then also take a look at these unique fundraising ideas.
4. Review of Your Brand’s Image in the Community
When was the last time you updated your brand? If it’s a long time, taking the time to review and update your collateral material, or preparing to move into a period of creative brand repositioning may be a good idea. If your content and material look tired or dated—and the chances are your nonprofit directors will mention it—the time has come to update. Donors, prospects, the general public, and media get exposed to thousands of images daily. To keep ahead of the curve, you need a clean look that effectively conveys your message with compelling visuals and content.
While your board of directors may say that the climate is too uncertain for a brand change, that is not the truth—particularly if it’s in great need of an overhaul. Think of it this way; there’s a lot of competition now for fundraising dollars. As a result of the economic climate, donors are retrenching. What that means is that they will give more selectively, and they have to see a measurable impact. First, your brand captures attention with its brand identity, and then with the facts. So, to dominate in fundraising and cut through the noise of lots of nonprofits seeking funds from retrenching donors, now’s the time for your group to be bold.
5. Internal Review of the Board of Directors
Finally, just as your and the team performance should get reviewed, so too, it’s vital to assess the board of directors. Remember, this is about trust capital within your community. Each board member’s performance should get reviewed individually, as well as in aggregate. If an individual has not met their obligations, discussions should occur with the director to see what to do. Perhaps it’s just a matter of developing supportive measures to aid board members in fulfilling their responsibilities.
For any board member rotating off the board in the coming year, a pipeline of prospective candidates who meet the criteria for vetting should exist. Meaning, the nonprofit committee of your board of directors has work to do. Remember, because of this massive uncertainty, you may have board members who now have to focus on other demands. So, don’t assume that your board remains as it was before this year.
By taking the time to review the areas above, you will position yourself to succeed in the latter part of the year better. Partnering with your board of directors will help get your nonprofit gain a proactive and solid footing for this year and the next amid uncertainty.
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