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‘People are the magic behind our impact’ is message to remember

Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, Notes on Nonprofits


This week’s column is a round-up of topics, issues, and news you can use.

Being a working board

A nonprofit asked me to share my thoughts on what it means to be a “working board.”

I’ll start by recognizing the nonprofit sector is largely comprised of very small organizations with limited, sometimes zero, money. These grass-roots organizations are often governed by “working boards” until they secure sufficient financial support to hire staff. As a result, a “working board” requires its members to understand the big picture while also being action-oriented, accountable to each other, and impact driven. These are positive attributes for any nonprofit regardless of size.

If the board you serve on seems disengaged and could benefit from a more hands-on approach to achieving the organization’s goals, consider discussing these questions at a future board meeting: (1) What would it mean if this board saw itself as a working board? (2) How might this affect the board’s work and its relationship with staff? (3) What actions should the board consider to maximize the benefits of a working board?

Support mental health of staff

Speaker, author, and mental health advocate Ian Adair recently posted this call to action, “We can’t keep pushing the notion in the nonprofit sector that we have to give so much of ourselves (all the time) until there is nothing left mentally or emotionally, and we burnout. Our people are the magic behind our impact, it’s time we take care of them.”

I couldn’t agree more and hope this issue is being discussed by staff and board leaders to ensure organizational goals include caring for the people who do the work to achieve them.

New data on donor communications

New research from Charity Digital and Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Experience Index reveals only 4 in 10 donors, beneficiaries, and volunteers say they receive personalized communications. The report asked 4,900 adults in seven countries including Australia, United Kingdom and United States about their more recent interactions with nonprofits in 2021.

The report reveals 2 in 5 beneficiaries say the charity that helped them exceeded expectations but only 1 in 5 donors said the same. 1 in 6 donors say they have not received a meaningful thank you message. 36% of donors say they would give more if it was easier to do so. All of this suggests there’s room for improvement when it comes to donor communication and engagement. Here’s a link to the full report: https://sforce.co/3IGhVWo.

Community Foundation celebrates 25 years

Hats off to the Community Foundation of North Florida which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022. With initial support from the Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council in 1995, the foundation came to life in 1997. Thanks to Carrol Dadisman, former publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, Brooks Pettit, and other community leaders, 25 founding members were asked and agreed to provide the initial operating support for the foundation. Joy Watkins, founding President/CEO, was hired in 1999 and retired in 2019 after leading the organization for 20 years.

The Big Bend region is fortunate to have a community foundation dedicated to promoting philanthropy, serving as a resource to help people achieve their charitable goals, and helping nonprofits build endowments.

Thank you to the board members, fundholders, professional advisors, and staff who have contributed to the growth and success of the foundation. Happy 25th anniversary!

Appreciate the giver, not just the gift

I love this reminder from fundraising coach Beth Ann Locke to thank people for their generosity as a human being, rather than for the generous gift. This means thanking a donor for their kindness, support, and thoughtfulness rather than just their twenty-five dollars. This approach shifts the focus of the acknowledgement from the transaction to the person which is the first step in building authentic relationships.

Special events: is the juice worth the squeeze?

I’ve seen a slew of posts and promos from established nonprofits around the state who are launching brand new special events including garden parties, beer tastings, and themed costume parties in May and June. All appear to be outdoor events to address COVID concerns.

I’ve written many times about the high cost of hosting special events (with or without the costs being underwritten), the extensive staff time required to organize them, and the transactional nature of the money that is raised. No matter how fun and festive the theme, I keep coming back to this question: is the juice worth the squeeze? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Labor shortage impacts nonprofits

Join me and Felina Martin at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 8, for Notes on Nonprofits Live on Facebook. We will be talking about the impact of the labor shortage on the nonprofit sector, the impact of the increase in the minimum wage, and the challenges associated with finding, hiring, and retaining employees.

Notes on Nonprofits if produced by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting, and includes nonprofit news, resources, responses to reader questions, guest columns, and timeless topics from the vault. Please send your comments and questions to notesonnonprofits@gmail.com. This article first appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on Sunday, January 30.

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