October 19, 2021

Seven Steps To Compete In The 21st Century

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Every year is finding nonprofits with more challenging environments for funding their programs and operations. There is less support from Federal and State Governments as they reallocate resources to meet their own expanding needs. Grants from foundations are harder to qualify for, and more difficult to obtain. Yet expenditures keep going up. Programs are more costly to fund, and salaries need to be kept competitive with the commercial sector. There are things every nonprofit needs to do to stay viable. Nonprofits need to recognize that they are operating in a competitive environment. Every donor and every grant are being sought by other nonprofits. Here are seven things you can do to stand out from the crowd.

1. Modernize your website. Make it a place that people come to for current information. Keep adding new features as your webmaster makes them available to you. Incorporate features like webmail, flash, search and other applications. Use your website as a conduit to accept donations online. Be sure to include an ‘About Us’ section that does much more than list staff email addresses. Use pictures and biographies to make your web visitors feel they know that person on your staff.

2. Sit down with your bank and find out what they can do for you to make your operations more efficient. Use tools such as ‘Billpay’ and direct payroll services to streamline your financial functions. Integrate your online banking activities with your desktop accounting software.

3. Start thinking as if you were a for profit. Many non-profits pass up easy revenue by focusing on the tax implications of having that revenue deemed unrelated business income. If that were to happen, the worst is that the IRS can tax that revenue, putting the nonprofit in the same tax position as a for-profit, and still leaving a ‘profit.’ Open a store that sells branded merchandise. Subscribe to online marketplaces that will return money to you when people shop online.

4. Review the composition of your Board. Many Boards have members who are chosen not for their ability, but for their contributions to the Organization. Make contributors ‘Honorary’ members with privileges to attend all meetings, but be sure your ‘Working’ members are talented, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and available to attend meetings and serve on committees.

5. Bring in two outside consultants. Have the first expert review your operations and make recommendations for improvement. If you are anticipating a capital campaign, bring in a second consultant to perform a feasibility study. The conclusions of that study will give you a good idea of the likelihood of success, as well as specific recommendations for steps you can initiate now to better qualify you for success.

6. Major companies are always asking their customers for feedback. You should do the same. This is the most valuable marketing information you can compile. It will point out areas that need attention, as well as programs that are being well received and could be expanded.

7. We are living in a media-driven society. Make sure that newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio are kept informed about the services you provide. Write press releases, invite interviews, and visit with editors.

This is a competitive world, but being a non-profit does not mean you are excluded from the consequences. Initiating some of these steps will help put you at the head of the pack.

About the Author

Jim Gould is the Chairman of Fundraising Solutions, a fundraising company that offer a free fundraising program for non profit organization fundraising and ClickShopSupport.org, a charity shopping site.

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