MORE FROM BUFFALO
Laurie Dean Torrell, Executive Director of the Just Buffalo Literary Center and I talked soon after the Gardner Report September article extolling their collaborative project. She added three key points:
1. Planning is the most important component and process to ensure a successful collaboration. It cannot be rushed. Clearly define and understand your NPO’s priorities and needs and those of your prospective partners. Make sure that your mission, culture and operating styles can mesh. Engage your board and donors in the process.
2. Buffalo’s most impactful decision was hiring a shared development consultant. Each of the three NPOs found that the consultant helped them focus, become consistent and refine their message. Over time they worked more with the consultant as they became more fundraising savvy.
3. The rewards of collaboration continue to appear and grow as the collaborating groups work together and learn about each other.
She reported that not only have they saved in effort and expenses, but are attracting high quality volunteers and board members. The community gained an appreciation for the NPOs’ efforts to be more effective and efficient. The financial rewards have been increased support from donors, corporations and foundations coupled with operational savings.
START YOUR ONLINE EFFORTS WITH A CONTRACTOR
A recent Convio study of small NPOs using online programming found that 9 out of 10 do not have sufficient staff to manage their online programs because of budget or lack of expertise. These constraints cause NPOs to pass up online projects, events and activities. Convio found that the right person in the position is as important as the number of staff. Small NPOs (those with less than $1 million revenue) rely on contractors to manage, design and monitor their online programs. Read more at www.convio.com, Online Success: Why Structure Matters.
G&A’s experience (and that of our clients) is that a contractor allows you to get online quickly, effectively and at reasonable expense. Jeannette Balleza of Scribe Marketing is our go-to expert. You will see that she has helped us make our website accessible and has just provided a secure online survey for one of our clients on the whygardner site. She made the survey accessible and did it without fuss and in just hours.
IS AN INDEPENDENT FUNDRAISING EVENT (IFE) IN YOUR NPO’S FUTURE?
As the 2005 Komen Race Chair I was impressed how Komen for the Cure engages local leaders in “imagining” local events to increase mission awareness and raise funds. In 2005 we added a “sleep in” to the race to engage those who were not runners or walkers. It added $20,000 to our goal and added supporters that were not attracted by the race. Since then a kids event and a dog walk have been added. Other NPOs, like the Lance Armstrong, Diabetes and Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundations encourage their local supporters to create independent fundraising events (ifes). It may be a bake sale, race, car wash, art exhibit or online event. All these groups are experts at giving their supporters permission to advance the cause. They strengthen their organization and grow a new crop of leaders. These NPOs understood the concept of “tribes” before Seth Godwin wrote his great book, Tribes.
Gardner & Associates encourages its clients to explore IFEs. It does not matter whether they are a library, university, social service or healthcare agency. IFEs help the NPO in four vital ways:
1. Engages the zeal, energy and creativity of supporters. Gives supporters a role and an opportunity to shine. Empowers them with ownership.
2. Broadens your NPO’s appeal and reach through personal emails, phone calls, enewsletters, Facebook and other media outreach efforts from your supporters. Let’s them take your message and appeal to their friends.
3. Reduces the demands on your staff and budget by cultivating your supporters to fundraise.
4. Opens your NPO to whole new demographics of supporters through personal appeals.
One caution: make sure that your mission, message and vision are clearly defined so that your supporters will know what and how to deliver your message.
NPO POWER IN NWA
A recent Arkansas Coalition for Excellence study reported that NPOs are the third and fastest growing segment of the economy. The 2005-8 study showed that NPOs add 114,212 jobs and $6 billion in wages to the Arkansas economy. Northwest Arkansas has over 800 NPOs.
Economic planners may not consider the impact of NPO or NGO entities in economic growth. Recently, Gardner & Associates participated in an Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) work session to determine how the State of Arkansas could help NPOs and grow the economy. The recommendations were to establish an institute to develop board members and staff and to provide incentives to businesses to support this training and share their expertise.
The Arkansas Economic Issues Breakfast also highlighted the importance and impact of NPOs in growing the economy and enhancing the quality of life across the State.