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nonprofit case for support

Tools to Build a Stronger Nonprofit Sector

A little over a year ago I started introducing tools on the Social Velocity web site to help nonprofits, who might not be able to afford consulting services, grow their programs, create a financing strategy, revamp their board. I am blown away by how popular these tools have become.

I started Social Velocity almost four years ago because I saw a real hole in the nonprofit sector. Small and medium nonprofits working on social change lacked access to expertise and resources to strengthen and grow their solutions. The Teach for Americas of the world were building impressive organizations and replicating their solution far and wide. But they were doing so with the help of deep networks of experts and money. They were the lucky ones.

But there are equally impressive solutions housed in much smaller, less resourced nonprofit organizations that aren’t really seeing the light of day.  Because these organizations don’t know how to put a growth plan together, figure out how to finance the impact they want to have, or create a compelling ask for money to build, their solutions are not reaching as far as they could.

Social Velocity exists to help those small and medium-size nonprofits who want to be entrepreneurial, grow their programs, get their board engaged and invested, raise money to build their organization, break out of the starvation cycle.

And there are some nonprofits that are so small or so new that they aren’t ready yet for a customized solution. So our tools are there to help them start creating momentum on their own.

Our Step-by-Step Guides help a nonprofit to:

And the E-books we have developed describe:

And our Monthly Webinars describe how to find individual donors, evaluate earned income potential, create a message of impact, raise capacity capital and much more.

You can learn more about all of our tools here.

I’m committed to continuing to expand our inventory of tools so that more nonprofits can strengthen and grow their impact. So I’d love your ideas for other tools you would like to see.

Where do you struggle and where do you need guidance? Let me know the kinds of tools you would like to see in this post’s comments, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter or email.

Photo Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography

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Articulating Your Nonprofit’s Value Through a Theory of Change

If you want to raise more money, chart a strategic direction, make your nonprofit more effective, get your board engaged, and achieve your mission, you need a theory of change. A theory of change is basically an argument for how your nonprofit turns community resources (money, volunteers, clients, staff, materials) into positive change in the community. Articulating this simple argument can dramatically increase your nonprofit’s effectiveness and financial sustainability. In order to help your nonprofit create a theory of change, I’m delighted to announce that we are releasing today our newest Step-by-Step Guide, Creating a Theory of Change.

More and more donors and board members want to understand how the nonprofit they are involved with creates social change. A theory of change helps your nonprofit do that.

A theory of change can strengthen your nonprofit in many ways:

  • As the backbone of a case for support or other fundraising collateral. With a theory of change, you can articulate the impact you are working to achieve, in a compelling way.
  • To revise the vision and mission of your organization, making them stronger and more compelling.
  • As a filter for new opportunities as they arise. Do new opportunities fit within your theory of change? If not, perhaps you should not pursue them.
  • To guide your strategic planning process. If you understand the organization’s overall theory of change and what you exist to do, it is much easier to chart a future course.
  • To get board members and other volunteers, friends and supporters engaged, committed, and excited about your work. If people understand the bigger picture, they will be more inclined to give more time, energy, and other resources to the work.
  • To help staff understand how their individual roles and responsibilities fit into the larger vision of the organization. This can increase staff morale, productivity, communication and overall commitment to the organization.

The Creating a Theory of Change Guide is organized around the parts of a Theory of Change. In each of the 8 sections of this guide there is a series of questions, which you will answer. Your answers to these questions become the basis for your final theory of change.

The sections of the guide are:

  1. Community Need
  2. Inputs
  3. Activities
  4. Outputs
  5. Outcomes
  6. Impact
  7. Final Theory of Change
  8. Next Steps

You can find out more about the Creating a Theory of Change guide here. And for information on our other Step-by-Step Guides, like the Financing Plan Guide, Business Plan Guide, or Case for Investment Guide, check out our Tools page.

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How Do You Convince Donors to Give?

Convincing a donor to give to your nonprofit is a tricky business, and it’s getting harder all the time. Now more than ever nonprofits are struggling for funding amid growing competition and decreasing available dollars. It has become harder and harder to stand out and recruit donors. These days, donors, especially major ones, are less likely to give because an organization “does good work” and more likely to give because an organization provides a solution to a social problem the donor cares about.

Which is why every nonprofit needs a compelling Case for Support. Our newest Social Velocity Step-by-Step Guide, helps you create your nonprofit’s Case for Support.

This new environment requires those nonprofits that want to continue to attract and grow philanthropic support create a compelling argument for why a donor should give to them. Driven by a thoughtful combination of data and emotion, a good Case for Support can help you communicate and connect with your target donors much more effectively.

Our Case for Support Guide is organized into the 8 sections of a Case for Support:

1. The Community Need
2. Our Solution
3. Why Us
4. Our Impact
5. Financial Model
6. Strategic Direction
7. Resources Required
8. Social Return on Investment

In each section of the guide there is a series of questions. Your answers to these questions become the basis of your final Case for Support. But your Case for Support cannot be written in just a day, by one or two people. You will need to get feedback and insight from staff and board. And you’ll need to gather data to make your Case for Support stronger. This work will take time, so it may be a few weeks or months before you have a final Case for Support that is compelling, convincing and agreed upon by the organization as a whole.

A good Case for Support is an increasingly critical part of any fundraising campaign. You must be clear about why someone should give to your organization. Because if you don’t know, how will they?

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Photo Credit: puzzledmonkey

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