nonprofit strategic planning
I announced last month that I was recommitting to the Reader Question Series on the blog. I received some really great questions, thanks to all of you who submitted a question. As I read through the questions, I thought it might make sense to combine two of my new year’s resolutions (the relaunched Reader Question series and using more video on the blog) into this new series. So I’m going to start answering the Reader Questions via video. Below is my answer to this great question from a reader:
“The executive director is often so busy putting out the day-to-day fires that they lose time to work on the big strategic goals. How can an ED break the cycle of jumping from crisis to crisis?”
If you have a question you’d like me to answer in an upcoming Reader Question video, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Reader Question.” I look forward to reading your questions. Thanks!
Over the past few weeks I’ve started using video more often on the blog. My plan is to do even more of that. So today I’m excited to share the below video with you (click here to see the video if you are reading this in an email.) It explains how I help nonprofit organizations, of all shapes and sizes, navigate dramatic change in their organizations so that they can raise more money, engage their board, achieve their mission, and ultimately create more social change.
I have launched a Social Velocity channel on YouTube, and I plan to add additional videos and even video blog posts in the coming months. I encourage you to check it out and subscribe to the channel if you are interested.
As summer winds down, I’m starting to plan the fall lineup of Social Velocity webinars, but I need your help. I started offering monthly webinars a little over a year ago and have been amazed by their popularity. Several of the webinars sold out and had to be repeated. And all of our past webinars are available 24-7 as recorded webinars (you can see the whole list here).
And here’s where you come in. I need your help determining the content for the next round of webinars. What problems or issues do you struggle with? What would you love to learn more about? What challenges you in the worlds of raising money, strategic planning, board development, business planning, donor management, social innovation, philanthropy? What do you need direction on? I’d love to hear your ideas.
And just to show you how much I appreciate your input, I’ll award a free registration to anyone who submits an idea that turns into a Social Velocity webinar.
So send your webinar ideas to email@example.com with the subject line, “Webinar Idea.” And if we turn your idea into a webinar, you will attend for free. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!
And in the meantime, be sure to check out the Getting Your Board to Raise Money webinar:
Financing Not Fundraising: Getting Your Board to Raise Money
Wednesday, May 22, 2013. 12 noon – 1pm EST
Here’s what some previous attendees had to say about this webinar:
“The webinar was very concrete and actionable – gave specific suggestions regarding engaging board members. This was very useful. Well done.”
“This really opened my eyes to new possibilities – thank you so much!”
This webinar will give you tactical steps for how to:
- Set up a structure for effective board involvement in fundraising
- Get every board member raising money
- Create a compelling fundraising message for board to deliver
- Develop a system for moving prospects to donors
- Give every board member a job
- Overcome board fear and inertia
Photo Credit: urbanshoregirl
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:
- Create a theory of change, which is the fundamental backbone of any nonprofit effort to get more strategic and garner more external support.
- Develop a case for support, a clear, well-articulated, compelling argument for why a donor should give to your nonprofit.
- Craft a sustainable financing plan, that lays out how enough, sustainable money will flow through your doors to support your mission.
- Create a business plan for an earned income venture to result in new, unrestricted revenue for your nonprofit.
And the E-books we have developed describe:
- How to move from the exhausting hamster wheel of fundraising to a more strategic, sustainable effort to finance your nonprofit, and
- How to create a groundbreaking board of directors that can strengthen and grow your impact
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.
Photo Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography
Once a month (or maybe more often depending on the response) I will pick a reader’s question to answer. It can be about anything related to nonprofits, social innovation, boards, financing, fundraising, social innovation, philanthropy, you name it. Each month I’ll pick the most interesting question and write a blog post response to it.
And as an incentive, the person whose question is selected for the first month’s post in the series will receive a free copy of my e-book, “10 Traits of a Groundbreaking Nonprofit Board”
So start sending me your questions. I can’t wait to read them!
Photo Credit: e-magic
If you are serious about finding a way out of the nonprofit starvation cycle in this new year, you need a clear plan to get there. It amazes me how many nonprofits think that they can raise enough money through disjointed activities and hope. The only way you can raise the money it will take to accomplish your goals is to get strategic. And that means you need a strategic financing plan. Our Financing Not Fundraising webinar “Creating a Financing Plan” can help you do just that.
This webinar is part of our ongoing Financing Not Fundraising webinar series. Based on the popular Financing Not Fundraising blog series, the monthly webinar series breaks down this new approach to finding enough money to achieve a nonprofit’s mission into the steps necessary to get there. You can learn more about all of the upcoming webinars in this monthly series here.
A nonprofit financing plan is different that a typical nonprofit fundraising plan for many reasons. Here is how they differ:
- A fundraising plan sets goals only for private revenue streams (foundation grants, individual gifts), but a financing plan includes goals for all money flowing to the organization (government grants, earned income, etc).
- A fundraising plan’s dollar goals are based on what the nonprofit thinks it can raise, but a financing plan’s dollar goals are based on what the nonprofit needs in order to meet the goals of their organization’s strategic plan.
- A fundraising plan is created only by the fundraising staff with no input or knowledge from the rest of the organization, but a financing plan is created with the whole organization’s input (board and staff) and is fully integrated into the organization’s overall strategic plan.
- A fundraising plan only includes activities that raise money for programs, but a financing plan includes strategies for raising infrastructure dollars as well.
This “Creating a Financing Plan” webinar will help nonprofit leaders break down the steps of creating a financing plan. Webinar participants will think through how to:
- Set goals for ALL revenue streams flowing to the organization
- Tie their financing plan to their organization strategic plan
- Determine the infrastructure dollars they need to raise
- Create tactical steps to make the plan a reality, with activities, deliverables, people responsible, timeline
- Divide tasks by staff and board members
- Develop ways to monitor the plan going forward
Financing Not Fundraising: Creating a Financing Plan
Photo Credit: kolix
I hope you all find time over the holidays to relax, unwind and spend time with friends and family. Thank you all for reading and contributing to the Social Velocity blog this year. I really appreciate all of my readers and look forward to talking with you in the new year. Happy Holidays!
The 10 most popular Social Velocity blog posts of 2011 were:
- 5 Lies to Stop Telling Donors
- The Financing Not Fundraising Blog Series
- 10 Great Social Innovation Reads: November
- The Problem with Strategic Planning
- 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2011
- 4 Things Every Nonprofit Needs
- What is Social Innovation?
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Nonprofit Financing Plan
- 7 Things Board Members Can Do to Raise More Money
- Why Nonprofit Overhead is Destructive
Photo Credit: Charline Tetiyevsky
The term “strategic plan” has become so misused and abused in the nonprofit sector that it has almost become meaningless. So many organizations have undergone a poor strategic planning process that the idea of “strategic planning” has almost become laughable. But the fact remains that to be truly effective at creating social change a nonprofit organization MUST have a strategy for the future and a plan for how they will get there.
There are some very clear ways that a good strategic plan differs from a poor one:
- A good strategic plan starts from an in-depth understanding of the outside community marketplace in which the nonprofit operates (trends in clients, funders, competitors, etc). Whereas a bad strategic plan is created in a vacuum among only board and staff. One nonprofit told me that at a board retreat years ago, board members were asked to write their goals for the organization on post-it notes, which were then tacked all over the room and voted on. And like that, their strategic plan was born.
- A good strategic plan forces the organization to articulate its value proposition, i.e. how the organization uniquely uses community inputs to create significant social value (change to a social problem). A poor strategic plan fails to articulate a value proposition and assumes that everyone outside the organization loves it and understands its value just as much as everyone inside the organization.
- A good strategic plan puts everything on the table and allows no sacred cows. Board members with pet interests are reigned in and staff members who are not contributing are encouraged to realign themselves with the new plan. A poor strategic plan only deals with the easy or non-controversial issues and leaves the difficult questions aside.
- A good strategic plan makes sure that the strategy for programs is aligned with the organization’s business and financial model so that the resulting strategic plan includes programs, financing and operations in an integrated way. A poor strategic plan focuses only on programs and assumes that the money will somehow follow.
- A good strategic plan includes a tactical plan so that the broad goals are broken down into individual steps to get there. This allows the organization to monitor and revise the plan on an on-going basis. A poor strategic plan has no tactical plan or monitoring system attached to it. Once approved, staff or board don’t see it again and it certainly doesn’t drive the day-to-day activity of the organization.
- A good strategic plan is inspiring and compelling to potential funders. It sets forth a bold vision for the future and a specific road map for getting there, which inspires confidence and investment. A poor strategic plan is boring, maintains the status quo, and elicits only nominal external support.
It’s not enough to go through the “strategy” motions. A real strategic plan is bold, compelling, tactical, well-financed, integrated and inspiring. It gets everyone (staff, board, funders, volunteers, clients) moving forward in a common direction from which real change flows.
If you’re interested in exactly what Social Velocity’s strategic planning process looks like, go here.
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com
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