Saturday, August 31, 2013

The 5 Cs of Nonprofit Success


Stating the obvious here but running a SUCCESSFUL nonprofit is HARD WORK!

Here is a new rubric to help you (and me!) do it better!

What else would you add?  Please respond in the comments!

1. A Compelling Cause

In order to run a successful nonprofit you need a compelling cause.  But let's face it, some causes like some products are simply more compelling than others.  Just because YOU are passionate about a certain issue, ideology, or identity doesn't mean people will pay for it and/or work with you to realize your vision. The art and science of fundraising and managing involves ALIGNING your work with your DONORS' and EMPLOYEE's interests.

If you want your donors and volunteers to jump out of bed in the morning to help you, you've got to have a compelling cause.

Here are the questions to answer.

What are our most compelling programs and services and why?

What does our organization do to change the world better, faster, and cheaper than anyone else?

2. Great Colleagues

There is ample research to show that people who have close friends at the office are happier and more productive at work.

This just makes sense!

Wouldn't you rather spend 10 hours a day with people you like, respect, and admire?

Here is the question to answer.

What can I do as a hiring manager, leader, and employee to build a collegial atmosphere in my organization?

3. A Kick-Ass Culture

There is also tons written about the role that culture plays in making or breaking an organization and how leaders must PROACTIVELY and CONTINUOUSLY set about building the one they want.

A great culture is like a great brand. It is something you tend to every day by modeling your organization's values in the way you think, walk, and talk.

For my money, a successful organization requires a culture focused on ACHIEVEMENT and INNOVATION.

Here's why.  1) People want (and star performers need) to hit the right targets. They need to know where we are we going.  And they have to understand their unique role in making progress.  This is especially true in fundraising and sales.  2)  People want (and star performers need) the freedom and responsibility to think about ways to improve the business.  Encourage your team members to "stick to the knitting" and execute well.  But also give them license to look around the corner to see what is coming next.

Here are the questions to answer.

How can we reduce inefficiencies?

How can we better delight our donors?

What else (a mobile website, social marketing, etc.) can we put in motion today to get us ready for the future?

If you need guidance on culture creation and communication, check out The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love.  This is the benchmark. 

4. Fair Comp

If you read the research on what motivates employees, you will see that while compensation is not necessarily the most important driver of employee satisfaction, it is part of the package.

Pay people fairly so that they are not distracted by feeling or being underpaid. 

Nuff said! 

5. Cash

This is the biggie.  Sorry to state the obvious but you simply must have cash to run a successful nonprofit or for profit. Salaries, i.e., human bodies are not enough.  I'm dismayed at how hard it is for most nonprofits to answer this question - "What's the budget?" - when embarking on a new campaign or initiative.  (We are driving our vendors crazy!)

Cash is still king.

You need cash to tell donors about all the great things they are doing through your organization. You need cash to upgrade your software.  You need cash to enter new markets or find a new funding model.  You need cash to find new donors who may be interested in investing with you.  You need cash to train, reward, and celebrate your employees!

That said, cash is not a silver bullet. Plenty of nonprofits and for profits have squandered angel and other investments.

Here are the questions to answer. 

What are we doing to create a reserve or cushion to power our nonprofit?

Once we get more cash, how will we invest it STRATEGICALLY to ensure the financial health of our organization far into the future?

Cheers!

Jocelyn

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hold Hands, Stay Together, Have Faith. We ARE the Change We Seek.




I was so moved by the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington yesterday. Here is what I learned/remembered.

1. Peace is possible.  When we practice peace in our own lives, it reverberates. When we practice peace we also honor all of the activists who came before - King, Mandela, Parks, Ghandi, Chavez, Aung San Suu Kyi.  Our heroes and heroines were/are persistent, firm, and unfathomably kind in the face of struggle. We can draw strength from their witness and learn to be warriors for good too.

2. People want to live in fair, forward-thinking societies where everyone can flourish.  Sometimes we just get scared and confused. 

3. Holding hands and staying close, especially during the tough times, is vital. We NEED each other.  We BELONG to each other.

4. The glass of our collective life is half FULL. Get out of your house. Get into your community. SEE the amazing work that others do. You will be humbled and inspired by ALL of the stories that are not in the news!

5. The Universe is on our side!  We just have to keep breathing and keep believing.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
"The arc of the morale universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

SO MANY people want a more just, humane, and joyful society and are willing to do the work of FORGIVENESS and COMMUNION to get there.  Let's hold hands, keep breathing, and move forward together!

The future is open.

Jocelyn

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Patience



"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves...Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."  
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Patience is a virtue but it is not mine.

I honestly can't remember being patient a day in my life.  It is not my default setting.    I have to CONSCIOUSLY work to SLOW DOWN.

My days are filled with ENERGETIC activity.

Like most things, this is good and bad.  I'm a fast talker.  Have a quick wit.  Am a quick study.  But I also MISS information and other people with all of my rushing around.  

My daughter makes me pay attention.  She SQUEEZES it out of my unwitting pores.
  • "Watch me dance."
  • "Listen to me sing."
  • "Can I ask you another question?"
Silvia Boorstein calls patience "unglamorous courage." Hmmm.  I do like the idea of being a warrior...

While I get that everything happens in its own time.  And aspire to the "if you love something, set it free" philosophy.  Patience is much harder to practice in reality!

How do you WAIT for the answers?  How do you remember to BREATHE in and out every day?

Jocelyn

Friday, August 9, 2013

Play the Tape All the Way to the End and Other Advice on How to Make Better Decisions!


NO, this is not a post about 80s bands! 

YES, I am betraying my age!

But I LOVE this advice from one of my wonderful friends and wanted to share it with you.

If you want to make better decisions for your organization, career, or family, "play the tape all the way to the end."

For example, when vetting a new marketing or fundraising opportunity. Don't get swept up in delusions of grandeur and millions in new money and immediately sign on the dotted line. 

Pause. Ask questions. Pause again.

Write out all the pros and cons of the deal.  

Then...
  1. Talk to a cheerleader.  What could go right? We raise a ton of money for our mission. We get amazing PR. We attract even more funding. (We all get raises!)  Yippee!
  2. Talk to a devil's advocate. What could go wrong?  We get waaayyy off mission.  We squander precious resources. We are unable to execute the program.  We alienate current funders. #FAIL
  3. Seek expert advice. Hint: Expertise = Experience not Title! Talk to someone who has already traversed this road TWICE!
In short, "play the tape all the way to the end." And ONLY THEN make your "go/no go" decision.

I don't know about you but I often decide with my gut. I am intuitive and can literally FEEL the rightness or wrongness of a next move. But making decisions based on intuition alone can be perilous. 

Especially, in high risk (and highly emotional) situations, we need the discipline, tools, and criterion for good decision making. And we have to be willing to be wrong to get it right!

In Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (which you MUST read), Chip and Dan Heath remind us that,
"Overconfidence about the future disrupts our decisions.  It makes us lackadaisical about preparing for problems.  It tempts us to ignore signs of early failure. It leaves us unprepared for pleasant surprises...Fighting overconfidence means we've got to treat the future as a spectrum, not a point."
And we have no excuse for not doing our due diligence. (Say that 10x fast!)  There are great tools out there, including Decisive to help us walk carefully and CONSCIOUSLY through alternatives.

Predicting the future is a crap shoot.  There are ALWAYS surprises in life and work. But you significantly increase your chances of success when you spend time (breathing!) and thoroughly vetting multiple scenarios.

Here's to better decision making!

Thanks M3!

Jocelyn