One of my recent projects involved working alongside the team at Asociația OvidiuRo to pass a bill that encourages the most vulnerable families in Romania to enroll their children in kindergarten and ensure their daily attendance*.
I’m proud to say that, after nine months of work, the bill passed both chambers of Parliament with overwhelming support and it was enacted by President Iohannis on November 2, 2015**.
Furthermore, the methodology of using conditional cash transfers***, through which disadvantaged families are encouraged to enroll their children in kindergarten by receiving a food coupon of 50 lei/child (about 11 euro) for every month of perfect attendance, has been called a “project of national interest.”
Worth opening that bottle of champagne, I’d say.
The three things that worked:
McGuireWoods Romania contributed substantial resources and smoothed out the process significantly, and, of course, the entire team at OvidiuRo—thank you! The one thing that contributed to our staying the course though was having a clear strategy from the beginning, a step that usually gets overlooked, ironically, in the rush to “get things done.”
UPDATE (December 2015): the advocacy campaign championed alongside McGuireWoods Romania got the Romanian PR Award for Public Affairs, Advocacy & Lobby; more here.
* Kindergarten enrollment and attendance in the poorest parts of Romania is, at times, less than half the attendance from more affluent parts of the country.
** The bill’s trajectory can be followed on the Senate’s website and that of the Chamber of Deputies’.
*** The World Bank has been a proponent of using conditional cash transfers (CCT). Their 2009 report, Conditional Cash Transfers, Reducing Present and Future Poverty, shows the impact of CCT programs and makes a case for their use in designing policies.
**** OvidiuRo's campaigns throughout the years can be seen on their Public Awareness page.
This past October, I ran as part of a relay team in support of TEAM HOPE* at the Bucharest International Marathon, which happens to be the perfect premise for talking about peer-to-peer fundraising, something I’ve meaning to address for a while.
First of, why is peer-to-peer fundraising important?
Equally important, peer-to-peer fundraising connects with new donors without making it strictly about about the non-profit and it reengages existing donors through activities that makes them feel like they’re doing something concrete other than simply donating money.
Secondly, how does it work?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is one type of crowdfunding, so, like any other crowdfunding campaign, it can be
To get off the ground, a couple of things would be helpful:
Platform tools could include, to name just a few: easy-to-use website for online giving, creative ideas on activities that can be assumed to raise funds (see above, shave/grow facial hair, need I say more?), social media plugins, and pre-written solicitation messages and short, compelling videos that advocates could share with their networks.
For more planning ideas, see Stay Classy's Creating a Year-Round P2P Fundraising Machine.
Now, back to TEAM HOPE and my being a couch potato. Just so we’re on the same page: you’re not reading the post of a marathon runner. Or a half-marathon runner. I’m not a runner at all, I guess this is where I’m going.
As a non-runner though, I can tell you that between km 2 and 10 I wanted to stop for, and this is just a rough estimate, 2,845,490 times. I didn’t. (Well, not for that many times anyway.) I didn’t because I wasn’t running for me and I wasn’t running alone. At this year’s Bucharest International Marathon, I was one of the almost 300 TEAM HOPE runners.
That right there is fuel enough to finish a 10k.
* TEAM HOPE raises funds for Hope and Homes for Children Romania, which, not only that I love dearly, but I also consult for, as Head of Fundraising. There, bias acknowledged.
Oversimplifying is what we do. It helps us in navigating the day-to-day and it responds to the increasing need of cramming a lot of “stuff” into not a lot of time. The key is, not everything is a two-minute-and-a-half movie trailer; sometimes it pays to look deeper. Both nonprofits and grant makers are guilty of perpetuating these five misconceptions (and the many more not listed here) based on incomplete facts. Correcting them is a shared responsibility.
Misconception 1: “Donate $1, it will save a life/the planet”
Guilty party: Nonprofits
Context: This started because it was easier for nonprofits to ask for a $1/day than $30 every month or an annual contribution of $365. It wasn’t meant to convey that $1 is enough for the proverbial “saving a life” premise for the obvious reason that it takes a lot more than that to have a meaningful impact, even in the poorest areas of the world. The problem is that it lowered the donors’ benchmark for the lowest amount of an effective contribution. (Hint: it’s not just a dollar.)
How to correct it: Nonprofits should be transparent about their program, operational and fundraising expenses and openly “admit” that significant change—because it involves targeted support, given over time—costs money. There, that didn’t hurt, did it?
Misconception 2: Fundraising is about making this year’s budget
Guilty party: Nonprofits
Context: I’ve written before about the dangers of fundraising on an annual basis (This Idea Must Die post), the most important being that it’s preventing nonprofits from planning interventions over multiple years. In an ideal world, fundraisers would put finding new donors and cultivating existing ones on equal footing. In reality, fundraisers, pressured by the immediate need of committing funds for the current year, focus on getting new money and spend less time cultivating current supporters.
How to correct it: When submitting budgets, nonprofits should let grant makers know that their programs extend beyond the current year—and use this as an opportunity to ask for multi-annual commitments. Not all grant makers will consider making multi-annual commitments, not all will have the funds to, but some will consider becoming a sustaining donor—and those can help in alleviating the pressure “of making the budget”.
Misconception 3: “Our grant covers only program costs”
Guilty party: Grant makers
Context: When making grants, some donors, especially corporate donors, won’t cover costs relating to administrative overhead or marketing expenses. The logic here is questionable since, firstly, all businesses, nonprofits being included here, have administrative costs. No typical office can be run without salaries, rents, equipment or utilities. Secondly, most corporate donors do ask that their support be publicized, a task that usually sits with the nonprofit’s marketing department. Expecting results that are rooted in PR and marketing, but not funding the department that generates those results is… what’s the word, inconsistent.
How to correct it: Grant makers, see the nonprofit as a partner and fund it accordingly, understanding its inherent costs and ways of implementing programs. The myth of the non-profit work done on a shoestring budget is just that: a myth.
Misconception 4: CSR is yet another marketing tool
Guilty party: Grant makers
Context: Everyone has a definition ready for corporate social responsibility (CSR), so, not to be outshined, I’ve written about the subject from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Here’s the punch line: CSR ain’t marketing.
How to correct it: Stick to the shortest definition of CSR--“spending corporate profits in a way that can contribute to social or environmental value”—and you will do no wrong. Publicize it ad nauseam and you will alienate the new supporters CSR got you. Speaking of which, CSR nerd alert: a 2012 study found that companies’ “better CSR performance is associated with better credit ratings”.
Misconception 5: Grant decisions based on social media votes
Guilty party: Nonprofits & grant makers
Context: Resting grant-making decisions on the votes nonprofits get on social media is a new phenomenon—and a wrong one, too. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a proponent of Vox populi, Vox dei, but this case in particular, deciding which nonprofit gets funded based on votes cast on social media, is the mother of oversimplifying things. Grant making is not for everyone (because it requires a mix of analysis, trust, long-term view and understanding the intricacies of whom you’re helping, be it people or blue whales) and non-profit work is not from everyone (for the same reason), so why would the decision as to who gets the money be for everyone?
How to correct it: Leave social media to serve the goal it was invented for: posting vacation photos that make your friends jealous, saying the occasional hi to that long-lost friend from middle school and stalking. It’s OK, we all do it. Grant-making decisions should be left to professionals and not be subjected to likes and retweets.
What to do when your favorite nonprofit disappoints you (and the 4 questions guiding charitable giving)
A recent investigation by ProPublica and NPR showed how the Red Cross has reportedly failed on the reconstruction work that was supposed to take place in Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake. In short, the Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people; the investigation found that the actual number of permanent homes built in all of Haiti was six—this in the context of the Red Cross receiving nearly $500M in donations for supporting affected areas in Haiti. Needless to say, almost half a billion dollars for six houses is an awful track record.
The investigation is ongoing but, if this is true, the Red Cross’ mismanagement has affected a lot of Haitians who were already in an extremely difficult situation. It has also undermined people’s trust in the Red Cross and, overall, in nonprofits’ being able to effectively respond to critical circumstances. Unfortunately, many more organizations use contributions for personal gain, instead of furthering their core mission: some of the top 50 worst nonprofits in the States spend less than 1% of what they raise in direct cash aid to their beneficiaries. The Tampa Bay Times and the Center of Investigative Reporting put together the list of America’s Worst Charities based on 10 years’ worth of tax filings.
Any industry will have its fraudsters and the non-profit one has plenty of bad apples of its own. Question is, as a donor, how can you protect your investments in non-profit organizations and still support the causes you’re committed to?
The last thing you’d want to do is to withdraw your philanthropic giving altogether and, in doing so, to essentially penalize organizations that are still doing great work. You’ve made a commitment to a cause before you made a gift to an organization serving that cause.
This part—the commitment, i.e., the compass of your giving—is important especially in cases a little less clear-cut, like when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, one of the biggest charities working to prevent and cure breast cancer, pulled funding to Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings because Planned Parenthood was also offering women the option to terminate pregnancies, among its variety of services. (Komen subsequently reinstated Planned Parenthood as a grantee after a public backlash.)
In the end, if you conclude that the trust you put into a nonprofit is no longer there, let your wallet do the talking and look for different organizations serving similar causes.
Photo: Dan Șendroiu
The Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards (read the summary or buy the book) were published a while back and they’re every bit as important now as they were then. Well, they’re not that ancient, the book was published in 2005, but considering that Facebook launched in 2004 and it seems like it’s been around since forever, 10 years is a lot.
The principles are still valid, yes: mission-driven, results-oriented boards that encourage cooperation among the trustees themselves, with the CEO, and with other nonprofits do better. Boards that function based on constant revitalization, transparency, disciplined compliance and that connect fundraising and programmatic budgets to strategic plans also do better.
The problem today, and 10 years ago, is that a handful of nonprofits check off all 12 principles. No matter how perfect the organization looks like from the outside, dig deep enough and you will find those trustees that are not giving enough, not doing enough, not participating enough, in a nutshell, not caring enough.
But what if NGOs asked their board members to contribute in a way that's a little less aspirational and a little more realistic? The alternate rules of engagement I’m proposing, albeit not as formal, ask trustees to:
Quick parenthesis here on being generous: according to the 2012 BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index, 76% of surveyed organizations require that board members make a personal contribution; the average board participation rate of these boards is 90%. Plus, as reflected in a survey by Marts & Lundy on 400 major New York City organizations, 21% of nonprofits consider board prospects’ philanthropic capacity as the “Highest priority” for selection; 58% consider it “A priority.” Quote these statistics when getting pushback on the importance of recruiting board members who have a significant giving capacity.
In realistic, day-to-day aspects of the work, being involved, responsible and generous translates into board members’ taking on several key roles:
Now, no two organizations are alike and, by extension, no two boards are alike. The spectrum ranges from active participation to interference to indifference and non-profit executives are responsible for the difficult task of energizing and engaging trustees. And therein lies the fun part!
In a previous post, The case of the fundraising gala that didn’t deliver (and 5 situations when you shouldn’t organize an event), I’ve discussed a couple of situations when organizing a fundraising gala won’t help with the three objective an event should have: to energize your donor base, to inform prospects of your mission and to contribute to the annual budget.
To summarize: before considering fundraising events seriously, ask who from your closest donors might attend and whom might they bring along; think of what you stand to gain, in actual cash and raised awareness, from organizing the event and use that as benchmark for analyzing the event’s success. If what you anticipate raising from your “family,” i.e., your most involved donors and their closest contacts, doesn’t cover the costs associated with producing the event then… don’t organize it.
If you do choose to put in the effort, know that fundraising events do work -- the five ideas below will help in making them both fun and purposeful:
1. Share the burden of selling tables and tickets
The Fundraising Committee and the gala honoree are immensely helpful at this stage. If you don’t have either, leave the logistical aspects aside and work on securing them first. Think about it this way: a serious event will have 400 or more attendees; you and your staff will need as much help as possible in selling the event—this is where the Committee and the honoree, and their respective social circles, come in.
2. Focus on the big pieces first
In other words, 1) secure the event sponsors; 2) sell the tables; 3) sell individual tickets. Frequently, looking for sponsors is ignored or taken into account too late, and selling tickets precedes selling tables, which makes no mathematical sense*. An ideal event sponsor would assume 80% or more of the production cost, leaving you to sell tables and tickets, so that the event is actually making money.
A quick mathematical formula for estimating your event’s success:
Productivity Ratio = Net Income / Hours Worked, where
Net Income = (Table Price x Number of Tables + Event Sponsorships + Amount Raised through Silent Auction + Amount Raised through Selling Nonprofit’s Merchandise + Other Sources Unique to the Event) - (Food & Drinks Expenses + Printing Expenses + Music, Sound & Lights Expenses + Follow-up Costs + Other Vendor Costs), and
Hours Worked = Total Number of Volunteer & Staff Hours Dedicated to the Event
3. Don’t. Be. Boring.
People attend fundraising events because they want to have fun and feel inspired to make a difference. Long speeches, long events in general, and long program breaks accomplish the opposite.
4. Promote it, promote it, promote it
Companies and individuals are unlikely to buy tables and tickets to an event that flies so low under the radar that it’s considered subterranean. Your gala communications plan will include all the media channels that you have access to, from your own website and social media to, ideally, channels that event sponsors put at your disposal.
5. Follow up
Events are organized to engage existing donors and cultivate new ones, so everyone who attended should be contacted afterwards. Segment your audience based on your attendees’ giving capacity: 85% of those who attended can be thanked through an email; 10% can get a letter in the mail, hand-signed by your higher-ups; 5% can get a phone call from the president of the organization and/or the honoree.
Galas can add to your bottom line—big time, if you consider Robin Hood Foundation’s banquet, which raised, in May 2014, 60 million dollars. In one night, that is. Obviously, not every organization’s gala will be attended by the who’s who of the banking and hedge fund industries or will be organized in a philanthropic-minded community, like New York City, but, done right, planned ahead and with the donor and the beneficiary in mind, fundraising events will help you… fundraise.
* You’ll spend less time in selling a table for 5,000 euros than convincing 10 people to get their 500-euro ticket.
The case of the fundraising gala that didn’t deliver (and 5 situations when you shouldn’t organize an event)
Fundraising events should be used as occasions to get to know, or be reacquainted with, the nonprofit’s work and results. Truth is, in a race to impress donors and get media attention, fundraising events have turned into glorified networking dinners that fail to connect attendees with the organization’s mission. In this post, I’ll discuss five situations when fundraising events fail to deliver; the next one will focus on the ideal traits of a gala.
1. When producing events costs more than 10%-20% of the proceeds
If your non-profit is new to the market and everyone understands that you won’t earn much from your first gala*, it’s acceptable to break even. It is not, however, acceptable to lose money. When you’re losing money on events, which might happen if your donor base is either not big enough or not committed enough, you’re losing money two times.
First, you’ve just lost whatever you put in for producing the event, from renting the location to the cost of entertainment to meals and drinks expenses. Second, and this is the most overlooked cost related to special events, you’ve lost the time that your staff put in to manage the event, time that they could have used cultivating donors more effectively. Bottom line: if you anticipate your expenses exceeding 10%-20% of projected income, maybe a costly event is not the way to go.
2. When the event has lost the connection to the mission
Fundraising events should reflect the non-profit’s image and mission—and honor its beneficiaries. Some events have lost that connection, making them indistinguishable and, ultimately, ineffective in cultivating donors. It seems as though the same recipe is being used again and again: the organizers offer a lavish affair in a posh location and anticipate donations in return.
To make your event unique, use this opportunity to directly engage your audience with the mission. Invite a beneficiary of the organization to speak at the gala, for instance, or simply give your donors a chance to remember recent exciting events (everyone loves a video montage) and energize them with the plans you have for the future**.
3. When the event lacks planning
A serious fundraising gala needs at least six months of preparation; in the case of those using popular locations even more, since those locations would have to be secured a year or more in advance. Too many events are hastily put together and the organization is throwing every staffer they have in dealing with the small organizational aspects: caterers, lights, sound, etc. These aren’t small things, per se, but they don’t compare to the bigger picture: cultivating your donors—and no cultivation comes from incessantly negotiating the food and beverage cost.
Planning the event includes post-event activities, too. Most non-profits look at how much they raised and from whom; some compare these numbers with previous events or events organized by similar organizations; few consider steps to be taken after the event—who needs to be cultivated further, now that they’ve attended the gala; fewer even actually take those steps.
4. When publicity is expected to sell tickets
One of the biggest misnomers about selling event tickets and sponsorships is that publicity will do it. “Spend something on promoting the event and we’ll sell enough tickets,” the saying goes. Publicity cannot sell big-level sponsorships, people do, and people who aren’t excited about the event won’t. Equip those helping you with at least three case statements: 1) this is why our organization’s work is important; 2) this is why this event is important; 3) this is how the proceeds will be spent.
5. When there are too many events to begin with
Done right, your events would take so many internal resources that you shouldn’t afford more than one gala per year. The problem is with smaller events, which creep up on the calendar and, before you know it, there’s one every other week. In most cases, these smaller events share the same donor base with the big gala and even the most enthusiastic donors need a break once in a while. Choose which events you want to do carefully and segment your supporters: too few touch points during the year won’t properly engage them, but too many and donor fatigue sets in.
There are many reasons why nonprofits would be interested in putting the time, energy and money to organize special events; there are many more, like the ones discussed here, why they’d be advised not to.
* Meaning, this aspect has been discussed and not making any money off of the event won’t be a surprise to anyone.
** Of importance here: craft these future plans wisely, so that donors understand that they’re not funding this year’s administrative costs; rather, they’re investing in a bigger concept that will bring significant change.
Image credit: Dan Șendroiu
Big data seems to be the concept of the day: how companies get, analyze, search for, share, store or protect information may be what’s differentiating them in the marketplace. On the one hand, big data sounds like something scary—“OMG, Facebook has my cat photos, Google knows I’m secretly into Justin Bieber, Fitbit tracks how lazy I am, we’re all going extinct surrounded by a cruel world of bots and technology!” On the other, it’s a cliché dressed as a silver bullet—“Statistical analysis will tell you these three things about your customers and ensure their lifelong loyalty.” Yeah, sure.
Realistically, big data enables the analysis of huge amounts of data and offers unexpected insights by linking multiple data sets*. Looking beyond the hype, what does this mean for non-profit organizations and what are the implications for fundraisers and donors?
The gist of it: Big data helps nonprofits and donors to measure the effectiveness of their initiatives.
Implications: Once they’re in the mindset of tracking data, which is a cultural shift in and of itself, the two areas that offer nonprofits critical information are: measuring conversion points and analyzing longitudinal giving data. That’s fancy-speak for understanding, for instance, how many new donors, upgrades (or downgrades) your most recent fundraising campaign had—and correlating that with the different marketing strategies you’ve used, to see which one was the most successful. Or, how many of your gala guests brought their friends to your event and how much these friends donated (if they did). Or, how many of your prospective donors are more likely to shop at H&M, for instance, and how can you, the nonprofit, communicate with them effectively while they’re in the store.
This type of granular analysis, done for a specific event and, more importantly, over time, to identify and act upon trends, requires a level of intentionality that starts with an orderly donor database and a long-term strategy.
Donors, on their end, can use data to their advantage to compare nonprofits. An earlier blog post, Why investing beats charity (and why non-profits should be judged like corporations), goes into the criteria donors should have in mind before investing in any nonprofit.
Big data, big numbers
The gist of it: To be statistically relevant, the bigger the data set the better
Implications: For smaller nonprofits, big data won’t mean a lot. To be applicable and to identify trends, it needs volume. The danger here is that, if you twist and turn a data point enough, it will give in and tell you what you want to hear—and the chances of that happening with smaller data sets are greater.
If you’re a small to medium-sized nonprofit, instead of losing yourself in the big data universe, keep a close eye on the following reports—which, by the way, you can extract from any donor database without the complicated analytics characteristic to big data:
If you’re a big nonprofit, like, say, a museum, big data can help by giving you insight on how attendance varies in the life of a special exhibit, with, presumably, more people coming in the opening and ending weeks, so that you can schedule additional staff accordingly.
The gist of it: Public and private in today’s digital universe is harder to separate
Implications: Some insights hailed as “big data speaks” are generated from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like, which makes users nervous about disclosing personal data.
Accenture put out five principles for corporate digital responsibility that may be applied to the nonprofit sector, too: collecting data responsibly (digital stewardship), offering clear opt-in choices for sharing personal data (digital transparency), using data in support of customers’ wellbeing (digital empowerment), sharing profits with the users (digital equity), and sharing data for the social good (digital inclusion).
Over the years, many trends have been heralded as “the thing that will change the face of philanthropy”—a face that’s inherently difficult to change, since, even in the heyday of technology, a lot of the work behind donations in the millions of dollars is so old-school: personal contacts and people’s affinity to various social causes drive giving and not (yet) algorithms.
Nate Silver**, in a book that I recommend highly, The signal and the noise, provides the best ending for this post: “Big data will produce progress—eventually. How quickly it does, and whether we regress in the meantime, will depend on us.”
* From The Bridgespan Group’s Nonprofit Management Tools and Trends Report 2014.
** More about Nate Silver in this recent Freakonomics podcast.
Image credit: Flavio Takemoto
Corporate social responsibility is easy to define depending on whom you ask: ask cynics and they’ll tell you it’s corporate propaganda camouflaged as community involvement; ask idealists and they’ll tell you that corporations have finally understood they’re accountable for more than their legal obligations, and social responsibility is one of them. (I’ve discussed this in a previous blog post, What’s in it for me? An idealist’s case for selfish giving*.)
For cause-related marketing (CRM) though, there’s no debate: while it is folded into corporate social responsibility programs, it’s deeply rooted in marketing.
Elementary, my dear Watson, the clue is in the name.
But what really is CRM and, more importantly, how does it support, if it does, the corporation and the nonprofit? Furthermore, is CRM more effective than other marketing strategies and how is it informing consumers’ purchasing decisions?
In short, CRM is the practice of advocating corporate social responsibility in marketing communications activities by “committing to donate an amount that depends on the sales the company achieved in a certain period of time to a cause.”** (From Anghel et al., Cause-related marketing, part of corporate social responsibility, and its influence upon consumers’ attitude)
How should it look like?
Since it’s part of corporate social responsibility programs, CRM should at least be:
Why is CRM better than other marketing strategies?
Like all marketing strategies, CRM aims to grow the customer base by reaching new segments and increase overall sales of products and services. Where CRM stands out is in consolidating brand equity, by associating the company with a worthy cause, and by raising funds for nonprofits.
A 2013 study*** on the effectiveness of CRM compared to other brand popularity initiatives concluded that:
Done right—strategically, in sync with other business goals and marketing initiatives—cause-related marketing can represent the typical win-win, with the corporation getting a boost in reputation and the non-profit receiving a percentage of the sales as contributions.
* This paper on corporate sustainability drivers adds to the subject.
** A more scholarly definition refers to CRM as “the process of formulating and implementing marketing activities that are characterized by contributing a specific amount to a designated nonprofit effort that, in turn, causes customers to engage in revenue providing exchanges.” Bronn and Vrioni’s Corporate social responsibility and cause-related marketing: An overview, which, aside from providing this definition and an introductory rundown to CRM, also discusses cross-cultural differences in the acceptance of corporate social responsibility.
*** The study, which can be read in its entirety here, includes the responses of 275 undergraduate and postgraduate teachers at RK University, a private university in India, and while it doesn’t benefit from a statistically relevant and diverse sample size, its conclusions on the effectiveness of CRM are worth mentioning.
There are lists upon lists with the most important elements in non-profit management and they correctly include strong leadership, clear vision, dedicated staff, loyal funders or thoughtful marketing.
The two that I’m proposing in completing the list are sustainability and replicability. They frequently go together in that sustainable organizations usually have replicable programs, and replicable programs are easier to fundraise for, thus ensuring their sustainability. But, in the rush to get everything right, these two take the back seat, having negative effects in at least three dimensions:
This one is easy—being financially sustainable means having a healthy balance between current and future program expenses, on the one hand, and keeping existing and prospective donors engaged, on the other—but far too many organizations rely too much on one or two vital donors. Truth is, it doesn’t really matter if these key contributions come from corporations or wealthy individuals (it’s equally harmful either way), but it’s particularly difficult if your main line of funding comes from public sources. Government funds, so dependent on factors like tax collection or political changes, can be cut with no warning from one year to the next leaving you, and your beneficiaries, stranded.
Financial replicability assumes that your business model is relatively easy to scale, and that start up, growth and implementation expenses aren’t prohibitively high. All nonprofits need angel investors, but if your mission requires all 12 apostles’ intervention, you may want to rethink your costs. Speaking of scaling up, the Stanford Social Innovation Review has a five-part series on how to set up for programmatic expansion before you consider growing.
The risk of the One and Only Fundraiser in Chief is evident when the person who’s been involved with the majority of the fundraising can’t continue doing it for various reasons. Not enough organizations, and I’m including here for-profit companies, spend adequate time to groom the next generation for leadership positions. It’s OK for nonprofits to have “one face” (usually that of the CEO or the Executive Director) for strategic projects, like press appearances or dealing with big funders. Problems appear when the Fundraiser in Chief assumes so many roles and is so synonymous with the organization that his/her sudden departure would threaten its survival.
Scaling up and sustainability are based on allowing the next generation of leaders to absorb from the practical knowledge of those who are more experienced.
The most straightforward method in judging your programs’ sustainability is to see them displayed in the Matrix Map. This visual grid shows which programs have a high programmatic impact and their funding, or lack thereof, and which initiatives might not be so close to the mission core and how they bring, or ask for, funding. The Star, Heart, Tree and Stop diagram, as it’s also known, prevents you from implementing that great program that can’t exist anywhere else because it requires so much staff attention and financial investments that it can’t really be replicated (or sustained in the long run).
Wanting to maximize an organization’s impact is the natural path in any nonprofit’s development and ensuring its sustainability and replicability in the financial, staffing and programmatic dimensions ensures that.
Image credit: Schouten de Jel