How does your nonprofit report on its work? How do you share your vision, work and impact? Do you send an email? Create an annual report? What about an annual meeting that brings together your stakeholders? Are you up to it? Can you make the time? Our perspective: how can you not afford the time?
The work of your nonprofit is at the core of all you do. Ideally, your work is driven by your vision. And, ideally your board takes the time – periodically – to reflect on your vision. Does it need to be adjusted? Do programs need to be eliminated, modified, or introduced so you can best live into your vision in a changing environment? Do you need to modify your strategies, partnerships, or the very way you are organized?
These are a few of the important questions for a board to grapple with. The process is important, and so is the process of reporting out to your constituents. Who exactly are these “constituents?” They’re the people you serve, your donors, funders, vendors, staff, fellow board members, faith leaders, elected officials, government workers, community leaders, teachers, neighbors, and leaders of local businesses and major corporations. They are as diverse as the community you live in.
With a continuous focus on the people we serve and advocate for, it is understandable that taking the time to create community “report outs” and listening forums may not always be a number one priority. But it’s critical.
You have to share your vision, direction, impact and thinking with those who support you and those who work alongside you in an effort to create a better world, or a least a healthier community. Some organizations will create an annual report – print, electronic or both. Others share updates regularly via email, Facebook, or their website.
Here’s our suggestion: consider hosting an annual meeting. We recently attended the annual meeting of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis (WFGM) and were impressed. The board of directors took the time to craft a concise agenda that shared their vision and current work with their stakeholders. What was so refreshing was that board members made the majority of presentations. They opened the meeting, the clearly and concisely communicated their vision for the next five years. They named it Vision 2020 and they shared their history, vision and process of collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders.
These were live people talking to live people, sharing their collaborations in a clear, concise and compelling way: WFGM seeks to reduce poverty in a specific zipcode by 1% a year for the next five years. Board members spoke to an audience of neighbors and community stakeholders about a major undertaking and invited their support. Take the time to share your vision – you’re worth it.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.