“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”
“Don’t boo, vote” - the legendary words of former President Barack Obama have gained renewed relevance in today’s political climate. With midterm elections closely approaching us in November, nonprofit advocacy groups (with 501(c)(3) status) should commit to remaining steadfastly nonpartisan and focus efforts on voter outreach and candidate education.
Many nonprofits struggle to keep up in today’s ever-changing technology environment. However, even when organizations suffer glaring inefficiencies, investing in new technology to alleviate these issues is rarely a top priority. Your Board might argue that the learning curve for adopting new technologies is too steep or that your organization has exhausted its budget. After all, nonprofits have limited resources and Boards are quick to shoot down any investment that will not provide an immediate benefit to members. Improving your backend systems will lighten your staff’s workload and allow them to focus on the programs and projects that your members value. Presenting a comprehensive, well-thought-out proposal will force your Board to take you seriously and help you prepare for any objections. However, writing a formal proposal is a huge undertaking and many don’t know where to begin. Here are six steps to take:
Fundraising. Let’s be honest -- fundraising can be difficult, it can require many phone calls and serve up a fair amount of rejection. You may have to reach out to potential nonprofit donors while they are at home or at work, and ask them to donate when they would rather not be on the phone with you. It can be a very impersonal and machine-like process if handled incorrectly, and one that can influence how your nonprofit donors percieve your organization. However, fundraising is often vital to sustaining an effective nonprofit organization. To this end, a creative and strategic approach approach to fundraising is necessary.
In an article entitled, “Creating High-Impact Nonprofits”, Stanford researchers Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie Crutchfield identified key characteristics of high-performing nonprofits. They found that successful nonprofits were able to effectively mobilize citizens around their mission by implementing robust public policy programs and advocacy initiatives. Here's a brief excerpt:
“The secret to their success lies in how high-impact nonprofits mobilize every sector of society – government, business, nonprofits, and the public – to be a force for good. In other words, greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than with how they manage their own internal operations.”
Just as we read our local newspapers to keep up-to-date with community events, keeping up with nonprofit trends and/or association industry news helps us stay better informed professionally. Learning from innovative nonprofit leaders and influencers equips us to excel in our careers by bringing new thinking and leadership to the sectors we work in. We’ve compiled a list of 5 thought leaders in the nonprofit, nonprofit technology, and grassroots space to inspire you: