Topic: Strategic Planning

In Difficult Economy, City of Hartford Seeks Grant Development Help

We are honored to have been recently chosen by the City of Hartford to facilitate grant development services, in support of their effort to increase sustainable funding for needed and viable city programs. This is the fourth contract with a municipality we have received in the last year. We are enthusiastic about this project and will keep you all updated as to the outcomes we are helping them to achieve!

Grants are certainly an important part of every organizations funding mix- whether you’re a 501C3, a municipal agency, or a private membership group, your unearned revenue plan should include some grant funding. Grant development goes beyond grant writing, it takes into account assessment of your grantable programs, viable outcomes, and identifying funding opportunities. Additionally, it encompasses facilitating a team to develop grant components including financials, and to write and refine the grant package before submission.
Once received, grants require careful attention to detail as most grantors want a clear and defined accounting of not only expenditures but outcomes.
Grants can be a valuable source of income and all organizations should be generating some grant revenue.

Capacity Building

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If we ask any of our nonprofit prospects and clients, what is there biggest challenge besides fundraising, the answer is invariably “building capacity“.

Capacity building is a broad term that encompasses “actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness”. According to a journal released by the Foundation Center in 2003 entitled “Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High-Impact Approaches”, capacity building can take many forms, including:

  • Professional development for staff and board members
  • Opportunities for peer learning, networking or leadership development
  • Creating or re-examining organizational plans
  • Initiating collaboration with other nonprofits
  • Developing new sources for earned income
  • Utilizing pro bono support for high-impact projects

Many of the community foundations and professional associations for nonprofits with whom we work offer numerous opportunities for capacity building- from grants directly to the organizations to bring on talent, expand knowledge and build strategy; to offering workshops, seminars and conferences from which the nonprofits can learn.

Yet we are still talking about capacity building over a decade later. If we know these things mentioned prior can work, what isn’t working?

Our firm has studied this issue for two years. We have worked with over 1000 prospective clients in trying to establish a solution set that met their needs and their budget.  We’ve heard from each of them as to what they have tried to do on their own and with help from foundations, associations and in some cases universities. What we learned was that for each one, where the process of capacity building fell apart was in execution.

Good ideas, strategy, recommendations, action steps, all are excellent in theory but will fail the nonprofit if they feel unable to execute. Some obstacles to execution are time and resources, confidence and experience, and accountability.

Of the thousands of prospects and clients we spoke with, about 80% were deserving, viable nonprofits. They have neither the resources nor the time or support needed to truly benefit from a contract for private consulting support.

after our study of this issue, we built what we believe to be a game changing answer to the capacity building issue for these nonprofits.

BLOSSOM

When we realized the scope of this problem, we thought, what if we could create a learning lab, curating the best of educational videos, podcasts, journal articles, and books, in which nonprofit executives could reliably and affordably access these tools in an online workspace, at any time. And what if we supported each learner with a private coach, who would have complete access to their learning progress in the lab, evaluating and mentoring them through assignment completion and assessments, and meet with the learner by phone, skype or google hangout once a month for 90 minutes.

And then what if we could provide an upfront assessment for the learner and the coach and learner could identify one looming key performance issue in the organization that they want to create a long term project around, affecting real time change to the nonprofits outcomes.

And finally what if we assembled six learners in a team, where they could interact, share ideas and have rich discussions around topics relevant to the nonprofit industry, effecting their organizations?

Around these assumptions we built BLOSSOM: The Virtual Incubator for Nonprofit Executives.

The incubator is a twelve month program, covering fifteen different nonprofits business topics. Learners start with an assessment on their influence style and on their organizations health. From these assessments the coach will develop leadership learning opportunities and will define with the learner their long term project. The Learner receives an online workspace that has the best of curated educational materials, tools, and templates, along with a resource library of additional information and downloadables. Learners are assembled with five other executives, for teams of six, who meet once per month online to discuss general nonprofit topics of interest. They also hold each other accountable for the progress and completion of their long term projects. The program culminates with a review of real time outcomes acheived, completion of the long term project, and a new network of colleagues and support members to continue the growth and sustainability acheived.

Early feedback was overwhelmingly rejoiceful! Yes, rejoiceful, lol!  Brilliant was one word used, Something I can really rely on for change in my organization was another phrase heard often.

We would love to get your feedback. Request access to the Free Trial Module and tell us what you think!

Email us for acccess to your FREE TRIAL MODULE

roots@harvestdevelopmentgrp.com or call us at 888-586-1103 ex2 to get immediate entry to the trial.

Success Strategies for Engaging, Recruiting, and Maintaining Volunteers Morning Musing Workshop

Hosted by The Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Presented by Harvest Development Group, LLC. Client Engagement Director, Jeanne Boyer Roy.

If you want to go fast – go alone! If you want to go far – go together!

Nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers – their passion, their commitment, and their time. Volunteers help nonprofit organizations meet their mission, and in doing so, they are key ambassadors in the community.

Harvest Development Group provides tools and strategies to craft a plan for managing volunteers that will ultimately lead to increased participation in fund development.

This workshop is free to nonprofit organizations – space is limited and pre-registration is requested.

Register by e-mailing Jamie or calling 860.347.0025.

Date/Time
14 Oct 2014
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Location
Community Foundation of Middlesex County, 211 South Main Street, Middletown, Connecticut

 

It’s All About Principle and Method

Clients come to Harvest Development Group with a variety of challenges facing their nonprofit organizations, but the underlying reason they need our help boils down to two simple aspects of their operations —  Principle and Method.

Principle and Method are the key elements of our work. The principles and methods may differ from organization to organization, but both are required to reach successful outcomes. Let’s put this into simple terms and examine the principle and method for getting dressed in the morning.

A Principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. Principles are established through trial, error, and observation. There are some common principles in getting dressed: one has to believe and agree that being dressed is important. An article of clothing is required to be classified as being dressed. To be accessible, the garment needs a place to reside when it’s not on our body. The garment also needs to be the right size and shape to fit our body. Finally, we need to be trained to assemble and secure the garment, learning techniques like buttoning, zippering and tying.

A Method is a particular form of procedure for accomplishing or approaching something;  a simple or detailed organized plan, sufficient to achieve successful outcomes. Some methods are “proven” meaning they have a good track record of success. Others are groundbreaking and innovative. There are many methods one can apply to getting dressed, each one personalized to our desired outcome. I used to watch my children get dressed — one putting one leg at a time into his pants and the other putting both legs into the pants before pulling them up. Each served their own purpose and both reached the successful outcome of wearing their pants. Efficiency and personal preference seemed to drive their actions.

The same concept of Principles and Methods can be applied to the business operations of a nonprofit organization. There are established, researched, well defined principles in program development, board development, philanthropy, recruitment and staffing. There are individualized methods that have been proven to work, and others that are innovative, which are applied to each as well.

When nonprofits contact Harvest Development Group for help, we assess to gauge what is at the root of the problem. With this information in mind, we teach the organization to apply the principles that lend support to these problems, and develop and apply the methods necessary to deliver on the outcomes they desire. So, as you can see, it all boils down to two simple aspects of your operation — Principles and Methods.

Intellectual Capital -or- He who has the best brains wins.

Intellectual Capital

               “We have moved from an economy of hands to an economy of heads.”

How are you managing the ‘heads’ of your organization?

The growing power of ideas – as manifested in innovative programs, policies and processes – is the key differentiator for a successful nonprofit organization.

This means that the most important resource in your nonprofit is not your donor database, or your special event… it’s the heads that walk through your door every day. These heads make up the differentiator known as Intellectual Capital.

Building your organization’s Intellectual Capital has become a science that has been shown to propel programs, services and fundraising, to higher standards of success.

To raise Intellectual Capital in your nonprofit in today’s competitive environment, create a culture that encourages creativity, innovation – get that good stuff out of those heads- and one that keeps your best heads around.

What are some signs that you are not leveraging the Intellectual Capital of your organization? Thomas Stewart, early proponent of the concept of Intellectual Capital through knowledge management states “like Lyme disease, knowledge management problems have  symptoms that sometimes mimic other problems.” Each of these symptoms indicate that people in the organization are not finding knowledge, moving it around, keeping it refreshed  and up to date, sharing it, or using it. (Zurbuchen, 1998)

Here is what to look for to determine where your organization stands in nurturing Intellectual Capital:

  • Same Mistake – seventh time.
  • Duplicated effort
  • “Silos”
  • Someone is out, and work comes to a halt
  • Consistent loss of materials and information for routine projects and processes
  • Goals and Objectives consistently not met
  • Poor customer feedback on performance
  • High turnover of excellent performing staff
  • Declining values: Financial, Performance, Membership
  • Poor Employee Morale

This list is not exhaustive but you get the picture, it’s a great illustration of the environment experienced by nonprofits who have not yet placed knowledge management of Intellectual Capital as a core business function.

Growing and retaining Intellectual Capital requires strategy, plan and measurement.

Growing Intellectual Capital

Some steps to take in growing Intellectual Capital:

  1. Make sharing knowledge easy: Create an organizational Wiki, a place for staff to enter learned concepts and share information or ideas.
  2. Encourage online communication: Organizational bulletin boards where your brightest can test theories through communication
  3. Reward innovative thinking: Most organizations are risk averse. This translates into new processes and programs meeting significant pushback. Flip your model of operating around to encourage, embrace and reward new processes and programs.

Retaining Intellectual Capital

Findings from the 2012 national Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey conducted by Nonprofit HR Solutions indicate that three-quarters of nonprofits do not have any formal strategy for retaining staff. That’s money out the door.

What are the key factors in retaining your Intellectual Capital investment? Surprisingly, in repeated studies of the nonprofit sector, rate of pay is not as important to retention as you may think. Here is what is important:

  1. An environment that encourages and rewards autonomy. That means self-direction, flexible work hours and environment (work from home, café, beach) and a results only measurement model. Innovative people like innovative work styles.
  2. Frequent, positive and meaningful feedback on work results. Especially with our newer generation of rising stars, Millennials thrive on feedback. This is a generation that, for good or bad, had helicopter parents, teachers and coaches, giving direction, encouragement and correction at every step.
  3. A role that requires diversity of talents, skills and functions. Many of the most successful people I know, have an entrepreneurial attitude about their work, even if they don’t own the company. Unlike multi-tasking (doing many things at once), multi-talenting is using a variety of talents, learned experiences and ideas in the execution of your work.
  4. Collaborative work. As a society, we have gained an addiction to tribal-ness: the desire to be affiliated and interrelated in our communication, experiences and work efforts. Collaboration also has the benefit of growing your Intellectual Capital through knowledge management. It needs to be encouraged.
  5. Work that is meaningful. Your creatives, innovators and those who are bringing the most Intellectual Capital to your organization, want to know that the results they are accomplishing actually are feeding into higher levels of success. Show them the corollary in an authentic and factual way.

Intellectual Capital is a key driver for competitive advantage in today’s environment for the nonprofit sector. He who grows the brightest and holds them, wins. Therefore, Intellectual Capital is an important, if not THE important, resource that nonprofits need to develop in order to gain sustained strategic advantage increasing their effectiveness in serving their constituency  and funding their mission.

Be Prepared…Not just for Boy Scouts anymore

With the rash of earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, floods and other natural disasters pressing down on us this season…and having just gone throughHurricane Irene ourselves, giving us personalized experience…its probably a good time to dig out and dust off the white paper we wrote a few months back on Emergency Preparedness. Find it here on our Free Stuff tab, at www.harvestdevelopmentgrp.com

For more detailed analysis and information, look for our Webinar on Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity coming up on October 25th, at 12 noon and again at 3pm, and register through the 501c3university.

27.1 million golf players ….. and you without a tournament?

Golf is in the air.  TPC, US Open and your local favorite charity.

Golf has become big business for nonprofits.  At one time,  I lead my staff through more than forty-two… 42! …annual fundraising golf tournaments. Most were third party events, lead by dedicated- borderline maniacal- golf enthusiasts.

People take their golf very seriously. According to the National Golf Foundation’s 2010 golf participation study, there were 27.1 million golfers in the U.S. in 2009, where they played 486.2 million rounds of golf, at over 15,890 golf facilities. According to a report by SRI International for GOLF 20/20, the total size of the U.S. golf economy in 2005 was just under $70 billion, not including equipment and related purchases.

Those are some serious numbers.

Which is why charities should take their golf seriously too. 

If you haven’t already, consider developing and leading a strategic golf initiative at your organization. Gather the expert, and not so expert, enthusiasts within your volunteer ranks and task them with developing a vision, a charge and a strategy for incorporating more golf into your revenue stream. Ask them to focus on making this effort turnkey or low cost/high return. Your empowered base of greens-walkers will be instrumental in designing a program that captures some of the lucrative trends in the industry. Be certain your plan contains a method of resourcing the effort as well.

The success outcomes from this approach?

  • Expanded volunteer and donor base
  • Reliable new revenue stream
  • Substantial increase in community buzz
  • New executive and corporate relationships
  • Broad dissemination of your mission and programs
Here are some helpful websites to get you “on course”  (lol, you didn’t think I could go a whole post without an awful pun, did you!)
GolfLink: A database of golf tournaments

GolfRegistrations.com: This site has valuable freebies to help you get started on your own tournament

 

Capital Campaigns as Transformative Projects

Capital Campaigns are incredible projects – consuming of immense amounts of resources, but the returns of which can be transformative for your organization.

Capital Campaigns are important strategies to include in your organizations long term philanthropy development plans. Campaigns that are integrated (including all of the organizations’ stakeholders in its design and implementation);  unified (with the goal of raising campaign funds as well as enhancing and improving annual and other donations); and are strategically designed, have the power to change the level and quality of your fundraising forever.

Campaigns have a history of being synonymous with specialized one time fundraising, while the reality is that most organizations today operate campaigns on a regular basis, completing one as they are planning and launching another.  Such is the need for large capital project development for any nonprofit organization, whether you be hospital, school, church or social service. The good news is that this has changed the culture of philanthropy for your donor base. They are more attuned to the segmentation of capital needs vs operating needs for programs and service delivery. And many major donors are considering the next campaign project for your organization, as they prepare their own giving strategy.

Preparing for your capital campaign begins with a feasibility study, six to twelve months before you host your first campaign meeting of volunteers.

Studying What is Feasible

A feasibility study is a specialized process in which analysis is conducted on your organizations ability, capacity and capabilities to successfully operate a capital campaign. Studies show a 92 percent success rate for campaigns preceded by feasibility/planning studies.  A study is traditionally facilitated by a consulting group, such as Harvest Development Group. Through experience with other studies, as well as by providing third party anonymity to study participants, more accurate data is collected and assessed when a feasibility study is lead by a consulting firm, resulting in better decisions in the construction and launch of your campaign. Results of the feasibility study are developed and presented in a report that outlines not only your organizations internal ability to operate a campaign (human resources, data collection tools,  organizational capability to devote time and money to a campaign), but also to the external capacity for campaign success.

How is a Campaign’s Financial Goal Set?

The financial goal of your campaign cannot be determined without a study. Your campaign goal is not how much you need, but by how much you can be forecasted to raise. Taking a measurement of past giving history, donor statistics, environmental issues impacting your efforts, as well as time and human resources available, your feasibility study consultant will project a range in which you can rely on campaign funding, if all activities are implemented as directed. This range is a more realistic and reliable goal than using the cost of your project as a campaign goal. In many cases the goal revealed through your feasibility study will be sent back to your project planning and/or finance committee for consideration, as it will affect the projects scope and funding plans. Without a study to determine how much can be raised, it would be folly to start out a campaign, fundraising to reach an artificial and unknown amount. Worse is to ignore the feasibility study determination and set an artificially increased goal. No organization can benefit from falling short financially on a capital campaign, it does more harm than any of the good from the effort.

Who Do We Ask?

Another outcome from your feasibility study is analysis of your current and potential donor base to the campaign. A well facilitated study will determine best prospects, range of gifts (as a gift chart) and the number of gifts required, and a categorized donor base for consideration. Imagine an infographic outlining who to ask, how much to ask for and when to make the ask. With this information you can confidently move into planning and implementation with a visualization of how you can be successful.

Planning for your Campaign

After your feasibility study is completed, your organization has to take the next step- planning for, launching and operating your campaign. Feasibility studies are time sensitive, because it deals with dynamic data. The data revealed and used for results in your feasibility study has an expiration date, like milk. Waiting too long after a feasibility study is completed for your campaign to begin, can be detrimental to your campaign.  Sometimes waiting too long to launch after a study is completed  results in money being left on the table, because the information used has changed drastically for the better.  It would be horrible to ask a donor for an amount that is too low, because the study was produced with information three years prior! Worse, and more common, is a campaign delayed resulting in missed goals due to donors leaving, other organizations in the community launching their own campaign, project costs increasing, etc. Ideally, study results are valid for about six to twelve months, but no longer. Be certain that your organization is ready to move forward when the feasibility study is completed.

As with the feasibility study, the planning, launching and implementation of your capital campaign benefits tremendously by bringing in counsel. Don’t try to save money in this area, as a good consulting firm will not only help you raise more money but save you money as well.

Develop our Volunteer Leaders

Your feasibility study will have delivered a list of potential volunteers for your campaign effort. Include these individuals in your campaign committees as well as your board. Begin to inspire, organize and engage your volunteer campaign members immediately after your feasibility study ends, while the experience of being interviewed and the buzz of the study is still fresh in their minds. Preparing your committees and drafting your plan will be a four month project at least, given the busyness and chaotic schedules of volunteers and competing organizational priorities.

Pieces of the Plan

Planning for your campaign requires attention to details in a broad area. Staffing is critical, and plans may need to be developed to increase staffing temporarily to assist with campaign or back office workloads. In addition, operational tools for managing the campaign will be essential- CRM software, Data management, material production, media and distribution lines for campaign materials. Financial forecasts should be developed in collaboration with finance, so everyone invested in the financial outcomes has a schedule of when the funds can be anticipated for use.  Internal policies and procedures for campaign implementation are to be developed as guiding and aligning instruments. Crafting a campaign case statement that is inspiring, informative and catalytic is an early planning activity. Additionally, prospect development and solicitation briefs and strategies set the foundation for your cultivation’s and asks. Good counsel will lead and facilitate all of this and more as you move toward your campaign launch date.

Campaigns Added Benefits

Although campaigns require a significant investment of time and resources – expect to spend about 20% of your campaign goal on the planning and implementation of your campaign- the return in campaign funding, future funding, increased donor base, increased visibility and internal enthusiasm and engagement for your mission is invaluable and well worth the investment. A well organized and operated campaign can change your organization for ever.

 

For further information or to speak about how a  campaign can help your organization reach new heights contact Harvest Development Group, LLC at   roots@harvestdevelopmentgrp.com    or    at    860-575-5132

C.R.I.B. Notes

C.R.I.B. Notes:

10 Steps critical to launching (or enhancing) a Comprehensive, Responsive, Integrated, Balanced fundraising program.

More frequently, nonprofits are taking a step back and evaluating their fundraising programs. Philanthropy has become an essential income line for nonprofit organizations. No longer is it looked upon as an “Oh, and we have fundraising, whatever it brings in I hope it’s a lot” approach. Now, in response to recent economic influences and increased competition for donor’s attention, it is considered part of a critical and required stream of sustainable funding.

Sustainable funding is a concept widely demanded by donors, grantors and program evaluators. It is a measurable and indispensable part of your nonprofits business practice. But how to go about establishing a viable and sustainable fundraising program?

For a fundraising program to be sustainable it must be comprehensively designed, integrated throughout the nonprofit organizations strategy and work plan, responsive to donor and program needs and balanced to ensure its smooth transition through the many economic and societal impacts the organization will face in its lifetime.

Here are ten fundamental steps that must occur, which if performed successfully, will position your fundraising to be Comprehensive, Responsive, Integrated and Balanced.

  1. Review your organizations Mission/Vision: Why do you exist? What are you seeking to do and who else is doing it as well? Audit the communities’ needs and what other providers of service to those needs exist. Are others doing exactly what you are doing? Successfully? With funding? If you stand out alone in your field, congratulations! If not, but you can justifiably compete, consider collaborating. If you cannot justifiably compete, then consider amending or abandoning your mission focus.
  2. Determine your organizations Value Proposition: What real, fundamental and measureable value impact does your organization have on the community it serves? Your true value must be determined by evidenced based outcomes that you can point to in support of your organizations reason for being. People will not fund what you do, but they will flock to you if you can prove, with results, what changes you bring about that either affect their lives or align with their values. It can be as simple as ‘We lighten the spirits of 5,000 urban and suburban symphony members every year from May through October’; or as complex as ‘We reduced crime 34% in the last 18 months through our youth crime prevention mentoring initiative’. Either way, it will require some work on your part, to consistently and accurately determine your programs valuable achievements.
  3. Establish a financial forecast for your fundraising: Why do you need this money and what are you going to do with it? How much is needed and why that specific amount? Your donors will want this information to be valid, reasonable and transparent, if they are going to trust their investment with your organization and buy in to your ability to be successful in your efforts. No trust, no funding.
  4. Audit and Assess your prospective donor pool and determine your viability in fundraising and your financial capacity: Where will you be pulling your donors from? Internally? Externally? Warm prospects? Cold lists? Individuals? Corporations? Foundations? How much can convincingly be raised from these prospective donor pools? And how long will it take you to move your donors to achieve this amount of funding? Does the amount of money you can project to reasonably raise meet your needs, as outlined above? If not how will you fill the gap? Your board, not to mention your donors, will not want to fund a program set to fail because of poor long term financial planning. Have your ducks lined up and know how your money is going to come in, how much and from whom and how long to achieve your goal.
  5. Develop a budget for your fundraising program: Raising money is a product generating and performance enhancing business practice, which requires a budget for expenditures in its implementation. Set your organizations mind right, by building a budget that will be sufficient to generate the returns you have determined you can achieve.
  6. Establish and follow Performance Metrics: Tangible, measurable, meaningful metrics on your fundraising program, will provide feedback in the short term for iterating your fundraising plan. Iteration is an important part of your plan and should be built into your strategy. The term and technical process of iteration is stolen from the Tech world, but it is a wildly successful and highly focused tool for making significant and donor centric improvements to your fundraising plan over short term intervals. Responsiveness will increase your fundability. Over the long term, performance metrics will validate your efforts to your donors, your clients and your leadership and set a foundation for additional growth.
  7. Develop your case for support: Assess your organizations service programs, your fundraising goals, your measurements as above and your donor prospects. Tell your donors through the development of your Case Statement, specifically why funding you is an excellent investment, what programs will be supported, what outcomes will be achieved, how you will achieve them, by when and by whom.
  8. Get your papers in order: Review your By-Laws. Ensure your organization is set up to fundraise. Consult with your financial advisor and your attorney to validate your organizations filing status with the state or states you are fundraising in. Avoid costly legal and financial miss-steps before they occur.
  9. Organize your interactions: Invest in a Donor Relationship Management database early on, before you launch your new or newly expanded fundraising program. Building on your success and establishing a long term trusting relationship with your donors is the most significant strengthening exercise to your sustainability. This cannot be done without a tool to accurately and confidently track your relationships. Don’t skimp on this one. Luckily, there are many software programs that are no or low cost to qualified nonprofit organizations.

10. Assemble and engage your key stakeholders: Administrative leadership, board, employees- these are not only your first donor set, but your strongest and most important partners in your sustainable fundraising program. Empower them and make them apostles of the fundraising plan. With the first nine steps in place, their confidence will be raised and their enthusiasm to lead the effort will be the natural response.