Tag Archives: evaluation

Nonprofit dating game

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, nonprofit partnership, nonprofit collaboration, evaluationThe holiday mistletoe, love songs, and New Year’s Eve parties conjure up the allure – and the drama – of dating. Who are you dating? Who do you want to be dating? Who will you be dating in 2015? And, if you’re married, how will you reaffirm your marriage in 2015?

What does all this have to do with nonprofits and fundraising? Well, we want you to have a happy love life, and we want you to enjoy your nonprofit relationships, especially your partnerships and collaborations. While there is a lot of pressure this time of year to be in a relationship, that isn’t always the right thing for everybody. Healthy relationships are characterized by love and mutual respect. There’s also pressure for nonprofits to partner and collaborate, but as with people, it has to be a right fit.

The end of the year is a good time to reassess, recommit or plan for a mutually agreeable dissolution. Consider the following as you make your assessment: what were the objectives of the relationship when it began? Have the initial expectations been met? Did the relationship help your nonprofit increase revenue? Did it help reduce costs through joint purchasing or shared resources such as facilities, personnel, services, or joint fundraising? Were you able to allocate the time and personnel required for the collaboration to thrive, or did these relationships tax your organization in terms of time and money? Were they more of a distraction than a benefit? Were these relationships like a planned marriage, begun with the encouragement of a foundation or funder? Has a love grown? Or did mutual attraction ignite both parties from the beginning?

While mutually beneficial, well-managed partnerships and collaborations can put your nonprofit at the head of the class, those that are a burden or take your nonprofit off course should be reevaluated. You may not have formed the right relationship. Related to this, it is okay if you are not a part of a partnership or collaboration, especially if such a relationship isn’t in line with your vision or if a prospective partner just isn’t a match. Being in the wrong relationship can be more of a negative than a plus if all parties are not in sync.

Here are our thoughts. Aim for mutual benefit. Question your motives: is the partnership for show, or for real? What is the substance of the relationship? Do your collaborations help your organization meet its goals and bring its mission to life? What about the goals and mission of your collaborators? Has the relationship changed over time? Is the vision that brought you together one that continues to inspire all parties, or are you staying together “for the children” (i.e. for a funder)?

Whether your nonprofit is single, dating or married make the most of the coming year.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.


Is your nonprofit meeting the needs of your community?

Meeting the needs of the community, fundraising, nonprofit, evaluation, community needs“What do you do when an organization wants to raise money, but there really isn’t a need for the organization?” That was the question we were asked recently. We were taken aback by the bluntness, but recognized its value. Here are our thoughts.

Most people we meet believe passionately in the organizations they are involved with. They see the impact being made and want it to continue. The challenge is to step outside of the organization and look at it within the context of the community. Are there other organizations now offering similar, competing, or more effective services? Is the need for your nonprofit as great as it was ten years ago? Have demographic shifts increased or decreased the need for your work? Have new needs emerged within the community that require funders and individuals to reallocate their giving?

The needs that nonprofits respond to and advocate for change over time. And the priority that others place on our needs change. Some changes we can anticipate, others we can’t. Sometimes we are proactive, and sometimes all we can do is react and retrench.  Because of this each organization needs to periodically assess its role within the community. What – if anything – do you need to change? Which organizations are you competing against? How could you be more effective? Ask donors and funders. Ask those who support you and those who have never provided funding.

Nonprofits who have received federal funds either directly or indirectly know about decreasing revenue streams. Grants have been decreasing and disappearing for a long time now. Continuing to cut programs and services and make do with less is one way to address this market challenge. Another is to look to collaborate, partner and as appropriate merge organizations. You may need to restructure how you provide services. You may need to be bold and launch a major fundraising campaign. Consider engaging your board in a dialog that looks beyond “how do we get through this fiscal year?” to asking deeper questions about how the organization can best serve its market.

Here is the hardest question: is your nonprofit relevant? Does it really meet a need? Even if you are successful with your fundraising, could the funds invested in your organization better benefit the community if invested in another nonprofit? If you are a new organization: were your founding assumptions accurate? If you have a history of service, are younger organizations better able to meet emerging needs? Don’t be afraid to ask these hard questions: doing so may open new doors. Assuming that your organization should continue to exist – without testing those assumptions – may prevent you from being of greatest value to those you serve. Only you and your board can provide the answers.

Image courtesy of xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Corporate Partnerships: What Does Your Nonprofit Bring to the Table?

Does your nonprofit’s special event help sponsors and underwriters meet their business objectives? Do the benefits you offer align with the business needs of your sponsors/ underwriters? Here are some things to consider as you build your corporate partnership program.

SubaruCauseMarketingPhilanthropic support can be directed by an executive within the business, through the community relations department, or its foundation. Marketing dollars are typically secured from the marketing department. Distinctions between the two types of giving include the expected “return on investment.” Sponsorships from the marketing side of a business need to advance the business’ objectives. Pursuing such a relationship will require you learn these objectives; know your demographics; and are prepared to apply creativity in creating sponsorship benefits that have meaning to your partners.

Businesses know who they want to communicate and interact with. They know which communication methods work best with specific target markets, and they have prioritized their markets. They will want to know the demographics associated with your event, program, or nonprofit as a whole, so be prepared. What do you know about the people you serve; those attending your events; people you reach by email, social media and print communications? Can you provide traditionally requested information such as gender, race, age, zipcode, income, education, and children in the household, for your different constituencies and/or audiences?

Some businesses may value the opportunity to sponsor intimate events that provide an opportunity to participate in meaningful conversations with individuals who represent their target market. Others know their ideal consumer communicates via social media. Still others want a very specific demographic such as highly African American educated females with incomes over $60,000 who are homeowners. Some businesses will want to build and strengthen brand loyalty. Others may be searching for a new market. You won’t know until you do some research and talk with those responsible for creating or influencing partnerships.

Here’s the bottom line: Growing a corporate partnership program requires data management systems that provide accurate demographics, as well as staff – or qualified volunteers – who can manage the program and meet sponsor/underwriter expectations. Focus on your sponsors’ needs and how your nonprofit will advance their brand. Be prepared to answer specific questions such as: How will results be measured? What will the metrics be? For events, what happens before, after and during the event? Are there multiple “touch points” through which sponsors can engage with your audience? Will you provide sponsors/underwriters with the names of people attending the events they support? Are you offering industry exclusivity? For example, will you engage five banks as sponsors, or one bank, one realtor, one national retailer….?

Most businesses know who they want to communicate with.  They also know their demographic and geographic markets. The question is, are you a match?

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 @saadshaw.