Sorry for the late post! I’ve had a sick little baby who has needed my constant attention today… which I’m definitely not complaining about because that means I snuggled with my little guy all day!
Today I want to share my 3 of my favorite posts from The Nonprofit Collective thus far.
#1 Nonprofit Financial Streams and Grants
Many organizations go into grant writing with the idea that grants should be one of their first funding sources or that grants should be one of their main financial streams. They have the mistaken impression that if they can just write one or two really good grants, their organization will be set for years. Some think that if they can just secure “that one grant,” then their organization won’t struggle ever again for funding.
What these organizations fail to understand is that grants are a great financial stream for nonprofits, but that grants should only be sought once the organization has other stable financial streams. Most funders will not fund your organization to just keep doing what you have been doing. Additionally, most funders will not fund your organization if they fail to see other, successful financial streams that will keep your organization afloat once the grant money runs out.
So, what exactly are grants for, if they aren’t to sustain your organization’s general operations?
What are grants for if they aren’t to get your organization up and running in the first place?
What are grants for if they aren’t to be your organization’s main financial stream?
Grants are meant to be just one element of your organization’s larger funding plan. Your plan ought to include multiple sources of income and incorporate varying income methods.
Most successful, healthy organizations have diverse funding and financial streams so they don’t become reliant on just one source, because what if that source dries up?
For instance, let’s say that your organization only relied on one $500,000 grant to fund your entire operational budget each year. You have a great relationship with this funder and so you have become extremely reliant on this one funding source. Everything works out great for 4, maybe 5 years, but then something happens to the funder. Perhaps the original funder hires someone else to hand out the grants, or maybe the funder and foundation decide to start funding different causes. Before they were only funding HIV research (what your organization does), but now they have decided to fund some HIV prevention projects (something that your organization does not do). For whatever reason, when you apply for the grant next year, your organization is not awarded the funds. Now what? Your ONLY source of income is gone, and your organization is no longer able to pay it’s staff, conduct the research, or do anything else.
This same kind of issue can arise if your organization relies too heavily on any one financial stream, and grant writers, or funders, do not want to be that one financial stream for your organization. Therefore, it is important to have multiple financial streams in place before your organization begins seeking grants.
Here is a list of financial streams for your organization to consider before seeking for grants:
Repeat, Individual Donors
First of all, Seek funding from donors who are close to your organization, and who will give repeat donations over time.
Who are these people?
These are the people who are on your Board of Directors.
These are people who are deeply invested in your organization and in the mission of your organization.
Additionally, these are people like the little lady in West Virginia who lost a grandchild to lung cancer (your organization’s cause), and has been heavily dedicated to the cause ever since.
Fee for Services
Secondly, if your organization provides any services, charge a fee for service.
Do you provide after school activities for youth? Charge a little for the youth to participate.
Do you care for abandoned animals until you can find people to adopt them? Charge an adoption fee.
Is your organization a club or some sort of exclusive group? Then consider charging a membership fee.
My husband recently joined a nonprofit organization for Gliding and he is charged a membership fee each month to be able to use the glider planes.
Are there any annual fundraising events that your organization can put on?
Here are some options:
- An annual gala
- A 5K, 10K, or half-marathon
- A school dance
- A golf tournament
- A Christmas party
Honestly, that is an extremely pathetic list for the amount of fundraising event options there are out there. Get creative and come up with an event that matches your organization and can be hosted at least once a year.
Overall, grants are not intended to be your organization’s first financial stream. Nor are they meant to be one of your organization’s only financial streams. Therefore, it is important that your organization sets up various financial streams before you start seeking grants.
#2 5 Most Important Nonprofit Resources of All Time
Are you ever searching for nonprofit information? I know I am constantly looking for information, whether it be for fundraising, data, statistics, stories, or anything else. Here is a list of my top 5 favorite nonprofit resources. Also, be sure to download the free PDF version!
Guidestar is the number one place I go to for nonprofit information. By signing up you have free access to the largest database of nonprofit organizations and foundations on the web. This is a great place to learn about other organizations, and for others to learn about your organization. Make sure your profile is filled out so other potential donors can learn about you!
Additionally, it is a great place to research foundation grant opportunities. By using their Advanced Search option, search for foundations in your area. You can then find contact information, giving patterns, past 990’s, etc., which will all help you find out whether your organization should apply for their grant opportunities.
Trust.Guidestar.org is Guidestar’s blog. I know, this is technically still Guidestar, but it deserves it’s own number and explanation. Guidestar’s blog has nonprofit information on everything from social media to recruiting a Board of Directors, to fundraising. Plus, they always have seasoned, successful professionals who write the blog posts, meaning there is always quality content.
Classy.org is an online mobile fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. They have worked with many top nonprofits including Pencils of Promise, Charity:Water, and National Geographic. Additionally, Classy has the best blog to learn about fundraising. Their posts give great fundraising ideas and tell you about the research they have conducted about diverse fundraising campaigns.
GrantSpace is run by the Foundation Center and is a great resource for organizations going through the grant writing process. They have tips about grant writing and help you find grant opportunities in the United States. They also have a great learning center where you can find a plethora of information on various nonprofit topics.
Nonprofit Information houses information about leadership, strategy, fundraising, and volunteer management. This is a great supplemental website for learning about your nonprofit needs.
#3 How to Use a SWOT Analysis for Your Social Media
Generation Y, known as the millennial generation, includes all of us who were born between 1980 and 2000. We are a visual generation; we like videos, pictures, graphics and social media. We like visually appealing websites that draw us in with large pictures and fewer words.
With regards to the nonprofit sector, we typically lean towards nonprofit organizations with fantastic websites and social media platforms that are clean and simple with high-quality images. We also like transparent organizations that we can find all of their information and records straight through their website. Furthermore, we like seeing almost instantaneous progress and updates on your nonprofit’s programs.
How is your organization doing in these areas? Do you have visually appealing social media platforms? Is your website clean and filled with beautiful pictures?
Today I want to help you analyze your social media presence and find areas where you can improve. This has the power to increase donations and increase support for your cause by appealing to Generation Y.
How are we going to do this? A SWOT analysis.
What is a SWOT analysis?
The SWOT model analyzes an aspect of your organization (for instance, your social media presence) based on four areas: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
As you can see in the visual below, the strengths and opportunities categories can be helpful to your organization. These describe how your organization is performing well and where you can expand to increase the impact of your social media presence.
On the other hand, the weaknesses and threats are harmful to your social media presence. This might include posts that aren’t visually appealing and actually drive traffic away from your organization.
The strengths and weaknesses in a SWOT analysis are parts of your social media campaign that you can control. You can control when you post, how much you post, and the quality that you make your posts. Therefore, these categories are internal, or within your organization.
On the contrary, the opportunities and threats categories refer to things outside of your organization. A new opportunity might be a new social media platform that you aren’t currently utilizing. A threat might be a similar organization using their social media platforms better than you.
Using a SWOT Analysis for Your Current Social Media Presence
How are your organization’s social media platforms measuring up to the competition? Are you posting high-quality, visually appealing posts regularly? Are there opportunities that your organization has not used? What are the possible threats that your social media campaign is facing? What are you doing well? What could you improve?
These are great questions to ask about your organization as you work through the SWOT analysis.
Strengths: What is your organization doing well with social media?
- Are you posting regularly?
- Are your images high-quality?
- Do you have a good amount of followers?
- Is your website updated regularly?
- Do you share beneficiaries stories regularly on your blog?
- Do you have someone in charge of your organization’s social media?
Weaknesses: Where is your organization’s social media struggling?
- Do you have a Twitter account that has never been used?
- Do you have other social media accounts that you have forgotten to update?
- Are your pictures grainy or outdated?
- Are you only posting once a week? Once a month?
- Is the person who is in charge of your social media also in charge of a thousand other things for the organization?
Opportunities: Where can your organization expand or improve your social media?
- Could you have more followers if you improved one of your platforms?
- Is there a new platform that you want to try?
- Do you have the funds to buy a new camera or new editing programs?
- Could you hire a social media expert?
Threats: What are some possible threats to your social media?
- Are there too many social media platforms for your organization’s bandwidth?
- Are fewer people using Facebook today than last year?
- Do you not have the money to hire a social media specialist?
Now that you have gone through your social media platforms and recognized your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, what are you going to change? How can you improve your social media campaign?
This is where you can make your action plan. Consider bringing your organization together for a meeting where you discuss your social media and bounce ideas off each other.