Nonprofit New Year’s Resolutions – What is Holding You Back?

We are already a week into the New Year and I cannot help but wonder how many personal resolutions have already been disregarded, if not outright discarded, or as I prefer frame it – tweaked into something more … manageable.  We all have big dreams on January 1, but to paraphrase Ms. Grant, nothing short of payment in perspiration is going to turn intention into reality.  Let’s just face it, evidence suggests that our resolutions are more likely to fall by the wayside than be attained.  Nothing horrible will happen when day #364 arrives and you never did register for that marathon or crack that volume of Proust, but when your organization is the one in desperate need of a “lifestyle change” how do you ensure that the change sticks?

There are at least three major problem areas nonprofits may need to reevaluate for 2013:

Money.

This year will be even more challenging on the funding front for any nonprofit that hopes spending cuts and words of austerity were just a passing storm.  This is an excellent opportunity to directly confront departmental or organizational fears that keep you hanging on to events that are no longer profitable and deferring serious talks about diversifying methods of giving and ditching your two-decade-old donor profile.  Be creative.  Be bold. The time for wishing things were different is over – 2013 is the year to revamp and revitalize your fundraising strategy and Beth Kanter has an excellent post on how to start thinking about doing just that.

 

Message.

The ability to meaningfully communicate why your nonprofit does what it does uniquely and effectively is key to successful messaging.  Solid content and consistent promotion of your organization indicates a good level of fitness, but engagement is what will take you to the next level.  The goal of storytelling, posting, and other social media activities is to compel your audience to action. This requires genuine engagement. Who are you talking to online?

I agree with Debra Askanase – 2013 is going to take social media to a whole new level in nonprofit communication, marketing, and even operations. If you are not doing more than dabbling in it (as in the requisite accounts and an intern as sole content curator/poster) you have whip your social media muscles into shape! Check out Debra’s post on nonprofit technology for plenty of workout material.

 

Making it Happen.

You could have the most knowledgeable staff working for the most dynamic Executive Director but your nonprofit is going to keep spinning its wheels if the Board is more impediment than inspiration. Board performance is a sensitive issue, but in this challenging climate it is one that can no longer be ignored with a “boards will be boards” attitude.  Challenge your board to explore their capability as a group and move beyond what can be accomplished around the big table to how they can actively help your nonprofit get closer to your organizational vision by December 31.   A helpful tool to begin this conversation is Elephants in the Boardroom: A Framework for Discussing Board Effectiveness Issues from the Fieldstone Alliance.

 

What is your nonprofit-related New Year’s resolution?