Time for a Change?

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A few of my clients are in the process of reevaluating their major fundraising events, an exercise I think can be very beneficial, especially if it is approached in the right way and with the right spirit.  If your fundraising events are in need of review (or more importantly, a complete overhaul), here are a few steps you can follow.

First, be objective

The facts don’t lie.  Evaluate your event statistics going back at least 5 years: revenue and expenses, sponsors, number of attendees, etc. Identify trends, successes and areas of concern.

Then, be subjective

Our HPS motto is, “people support what they help to create.”  If you are considering making changes to your event (or more importantly, replacing it all together), it is imperative to seek input from your constituents.  Take time to meet with committee members, both current and past.  Consider conducting a survey or a few focus groups.  In addition to requesting feedback on this event, ask your constituents about events they have attended for other organizations and determine what they like (and don’t like) about those events.  What you will discover through this process is that, no matter what decision you make, your constituents will feel like they had a voice in the process.

Now what?

While change can be unnerving, it can also be refreshing.  Whether you are simply eliminating a silent auction or replacing an entire event, make the decision and move forward with gusto.  Communication will continue to be an essential part of the process going forward.  Recruit some “ambassadors” – key volunteers, staff members, etc. to help you share the good news.  Arm them with the simple facts regarding the change and provide them with some exciting details about the new event.

Give it time

If you are replacing an event or part of an event, it is a good idea to remind your Board members, your volunteers, and especially yourself that change takes time.  You may not net the same about of revenue in the first year.  You may also determine that the change you made was not the right decision or did not go far enough.  Consider this a process, be willing to objectively evaluate the outcomes and continue to make the changes necessary to grow your event and ultimately your constituent base.  And remember…change is exciting!

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

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Transitions

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My wife and I aren’t the biggest TV watchers beyond the nightly news, a White Sox game and the occasional political news station, however, we have recently been engrossed with the Netflix biographical drama The Crown. We’re just a few episodes into the first season where the show highlights Queen Elizabeth’s sudden ascension of power soon after her father King George VI passes away.

One of the key themes is the many transitions that take place because of the new leadership. We see promotions and demotions with the new assistants, deputies and private aides which lead to a lot of uncertainty. It’s no different when changes happen at a non-profit. When a new President, department head or manager joins the team, there is without a doubt change that will transpire. The changes mostly likely aren’t going to be made overnight but change is inevitable.

One of the roles we can play and assist with during these times of transition is making sure the new team members are properly informed on the institutional background of the organization. Yes, they will have to do their own homework, learn the systems and especially familiarize themselves with the many stakeholders but taking the time to provide them with your knowledge is the right thing to do personally and for the organization.

Transition without solid communication is a recipe for confusion and frustration. It is essential to keep the lines of communication open as there will most likely be anxiety amongst the team and employees will require some time to engage the newness. Transitions are hard on everyone and making sure that everyone is informed can be an easy win to avoid pessimists and unnecessary conversation. If you aren’t in a position of authority you should speak up and ask questions so you are informed.

For transitions that are self-induced, they should be handled skillfully as your reputation is on the line. Think back on the time you joined the organization and how well or how poorly the transition went. It’s important to make sure you are leaving your replacement and team in good hands so any required reports or notes that are provided are completed with accuracy and are on point.

Assisting in the transition no matter what role you play or what level you are in the organization is everyone’s job. As I’ve witnessed in The Crown and in work evolutions I’ve been a part of, support and most of all trust are required ingredients to have in a successful and smooth transition.

 by: Tim Kennedy, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

One step at a time

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The new administration has left many feeling surprised, overwhelmed and at times, helpless.  “What can I do given these swift changes?”  “How can I make a difference?”  “What is coming next?”  I have found myself contemplating this often over the past few weeks and have gained inspiration by watching people come together for the greater good.  Whether it is a peaceful protest, a letter to a politician or simply facing each day with a positive attitude, we all have the ability to make an impact.

Each of us has made a decision to work in the non-profit field, which means your work is making a difference in the lives of others every day.  It is imperative that we remind ourselves of this – and we must remind those around us of the impact they are having as well.  Whether it is a fellow staffer, a Board member or a volunteer, the time and effort they put forth to forward your organization’s mission is essential.  We must lift each other up and reinforce the fact that the work we do is positively impacting others.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Keep your clients “front and center” in your daily routine and your conversations – they will inspire and energize you
  • Thank those around you and remind them that your organization – and the clients you serve – need them
  • Continue to participate in ways which make you feel empowered – write to your congressman, sign a petition, attend a discussion or serve on a committee in your community
  • Look for extra ways in which you can make a difference to someone around you – help a neighbor or friend in need, serve at a soup kitchen, give the homeless person on your route a pair of gloves

I know I can’t influence policy, but I do have the ability to make a difference in the life of someone in my community.  I have found a renewed sense of spirit in looking for more opportunities to make someone’s day a little brighter.

by:  Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Taking Inventory of Your Development Department

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by Susan Bottum, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Over the past several months, I have been in a number of conversations with clients regarding the structure of their Development department.  These conversations have been interesting and have pushed my clients to think objectively the needs of their organization today.  Often times, Development departments “evolve”, based on the skill set of the team and the immediate needs of the organization.  I find it beneficial to take a step back every now and then to take inventory.

First, make sure you have a good understanding of the organization’s goals:

  • What are the organization’s objectives over the next 12-24 months?
  • What is the Development department’s role in helping to meet these objectives?
  • Do we have the right roles in place within the Development department?
    • If not, what roles are missing?
    • What roles are no longer needed?

Next, take inventory:

  • Do we have the right skillsets within our current team?
  • If so, are those skills aligned to the correct positions?
  • If not, what is missing?
    • Can we identify training to address this?
    • Do we need to add resources to the team?

This exercise can prove beneficial in ensuring the right support for the organization and it can often prove uplifting for members of the Development team.  Sometimes a little change to a current position can be exciting and energizing with new opportunities and challenges.

Lastly, if you determine the need to hire a new person, here are a few good resources for non-profits:

Job posting – You can post your position at npo.net for as little as $70.  Most of my clients have used this website and have had good luck in finding qualified candidates.

Salary information – If you are unsure about a salary range for a position, go to Payscale.com.  It will provide salary ranges and other details free of charge.

 

Strategically Expanding Into New Communities

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by Susan Bottum, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

One of my clients just moved out of their loop high rise.  Their administrative team and several of the program offerings were housed in this location.  And while the loop address made it easier for some Board members to attend monthly meetings, it was convenient for many of the clients they serve.  And so, when the lease was up, they moved out.  The administrative team made a move to their north campus – the established site of their therapeutic day school and residential treatment facility.  The programs which were previously housed in the loop moved out into the communities they serve.  And while this may pose some internal logistical challenges going forward, it makes great sense, as it makes it easier for many of their clients to access services.

In my opinion, this organization is being strategic and thoughtful about connecting with communities.  It is very easy to get comfortable “where we are”, both literally and figuratively.  Being proactive and reaching out to new communities is not always easy – or even welcome.  Yet, for many organizations, it is imperative.  Whether you want to better connect with clients or reach new donors, it takes planning and effort.  Regardless of the reason, if you are looking to expand into new communities, here are a few simple ideas and questions to get you started.

Identify the reason for expansion. 

  • Are you looking to expand your service offerings to additional communities?   Or is your goal to expand your donor base? Or is it simply to increase awareness?
  • What research have you done to identify which communities are the “best fit” to help meet your objectives?
  • If you are looking to expand services, what organizations exist in the targeted community that may be influential?  For example, are their other service providers with whom you may partner?  Are their service organizations, such as a neighborhood association or Rotary Club?  Are there churches or other community organizations who may be helpful?
  • If you are hoping to expand your donor pool, it may be helpful to know if there are other organizations that the community currently supports.
  • What is your timeline?

Communicate your idea to key constituents.

  • It is essential to share your plans with the Board and solicit their support.  You may also have others (staff members, donors, volunteers) who may be influential in your efforts to expand.
  • Share your objectives, research and timeline with key constituents and ask for their help.
  • What are their thoughts about this expansion?
  • Do they know people in that community who may be influential in this expansion?  If so, would they be willing to help?  Perhaps they could provide an introduction or host a lunch to educate those in the community about the organization.
  • Be sure to listen to your key constituents!   Perhaps they have ideas and other ways to expand your organization’s footprint.

Identify and reach out to community connectors or influencers.

  • Take advantage of any and all introductions.  Reach out and ask for meetings.  Listen to those in the community; they know it best and may have wonderful ideas to share.
  • Be patient but persistent.
  • Be sure to say thank you.  Thank those who have made introductions.  Thank the community influencers.  Be grateful for their assistance.
  • Whether your objective is to open a local clinic – or start an Auxiliary fundraising board – use all of the knowledge you have gathered and put your plan into action!

Be present.  And patient.

If you truly want this expansion to be successful, it is important to be present – not just in the beginning, but for the long haul.  Building relationships takes time.  And, as my client realized when they made the decision to move into the communities, it is easy to get “busy” where you are, but if where you are is in your desired community, you will begin to establish roots and meaningful relationships.

Sorry, real and substantial change takes time

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by George Rattin, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

I was thinking recently about effecting “real” change and remembered this story.  I was an administrator at an organization and involved in the budgeting process.  As I was responsible for developing the Development revenue and expense budget, I really created what I thought was a smart, budget proposal that was frugal in spending but realistically aggressive on the revenue side.  As we went around the table and shared our individual budgets, people seemed to agree with my rationale.  However, by the end of the meeting we had created the first draft of our organization’s budget and there was a revenue shortfall.  This organization’s approach to balancing the budget was to add the substantial revenue shortfall to Development.  In the words of one member of the budget committee, “We will just need to raise more money.”  I am all for pushing our revenue generating segments to be as efficient and effective as possible, however, the shortfall added to the revenue goals for the Development arm were unrealistic and set that organization up for failure.  I will spare you the conversations and heated arguments trying to get the team to be realistic, because when thinking back , I thought, “How could this organization substantially (and quickly) transform its giving and increase its revenue generation for the good of the organization? ”

The reality is that change takes time.  Several factors that affected that organization’s progress were institutional leadership turnover, significantly varied demands upon the Development Department and a misunderstanding  that development revenue was like a light switch that you could turn on and off.  What I have learned from experience and that is backed up by research is that change takes time.  To effect real and substantial change it takes a period of stability and a plan that promotes cultivation, engagement and stewardship.  This is not a surprise to most, however, in my experience, many organizations do not behave as if they have this understanding.  What follows are three things that will enhance your organization’s ability to make real changes:

  1. Stability – Stability at the institutional leader level (in place at least two years), Development leader level and with the Board of Directors is crucial to making progress.  Good Development is based upon relationships.  It is impossible to force a relationship, they are built and strengthened over time.  The ideal period of stability is 4-5 years to have the best chance to truly effect change.
  2. Commitment – To effect change, the organization must commit to creating a culture that builds on the behaviors that will allow the organization to grow.  Is their an understanding of where the organization is going ?  Do all the members understand their role in achieving this vision?  This is the commitment it takes to truely realize change.
  3. Bold action – Change is hard.  However, it takes bold action to break the status quo and move forward in a different direction.  It takes audacity.

Change takes time, stability, commitment and audacity.  When these things come together, great things can be realized and your organization will change for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime and year end planning

Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

I always enjoy the summer – going to the beach, BBQ’s with friends, bike rides – but summertime, for those of us in the non-profit world also means putting our plans together for our new fiscal year that kicked-off on July 1.  So, if you haven’t already taken a look at your development plan from last year and made some tweaks and adjustments, now is the time to do it!

A good development plan is a like a roadmap…you need one to guide your activities along the way so that you can achieve your results.  So, here are some things to consider when making or adjusting your new plan….

Clearly Define Goals and Responsibilities

One of the most important things you can do to ensure fundraising success is to make sure that your plan includes specific goals and responsibilities.  For example, you may want to increase the revenue of your annual Gala by 15 percent this year.  Or, this year, you would like to increase your major gifts by 10 percent.  So, where do you start?  The best approach is to have a strategy outlined as well as who is responsible for making this happen.  Clearly defined goals and responsibilities increase accountability, they make expectations clear to staff, volunteers and board members, and they allow you to correct course if milestones aren’t met.

Try Something New!

As fundraisers, it is our job to continue to think outside the box and try new things to benefit the organizations in which we work. Take a good hard look at what has worked well and what has not.  Is it time to change-up or stop hosting that “signature” event that you’ve held for the last 10 years?  Try something new and test your donor’s response.  Did you generate new donors or connect with more friends as a result?  If so, keep it.  If not, try something else next year.

Keep your Plan Out – Track your Progress

Sometimes the easy part is to tweak and adjust your plan each year.  But, once we’ve done this…keep the plan out front and center.  Do you know how many visits you need to make each week?  How many touch points you need to make to cultivate your donors each month?  Do you have a thermometer to visually track your corporate gifts to your Gala?  Track and show your progress!  Use your plan with your staff, your Board and your Executive Director so that you can see the progress you and your team are making.  As you move further into the year, your plan can also indicate where more of your attention needs to be directed.  Enjoy the dog days of summer and get your plan ready to go for a great fundraising year ahead!

Change Happens!

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As a consultant, my life revolves around preparation and planning.  Yet on a daily basis I deal with change.  The change a client needs to make when they hire a consultant to help them improve.  The change we provide when we study an organization and offer our suggestions.  The change a Board of Directors makes after they go through training.  Change happens!  As we face change, and we all will in one form or another, here are a few steps you can take to prepare yourself to navigate change:

  1. Identify the change.  By naming the change you quantify it and give it substance.  It moves from ethereal to physical.  Once there, it can be dealt with.  Send time identifying the change with which you are confronted .
  2. Identify the impacts of the change.  How will this change affect your company, the way you conduct your business and how will it affect you.  While one can never identify all the ripples of change, preparation helps lesson the unanticipated surprises that change creates.
  3. Stay positive.  Change is always an opportunity, even if it is hard to see in the short-term.
  4. Decide how you will adapt to change.  The hardest part about change is that it requires us to act differently.  Identify how you will respond to the demands of change.  How will you learn new things, act differently, perform in a different way?  In other words, how will you change to embrace the change you are experiencing

Though I don’t know what they are, I can state with confidence that everyone reading this blog will experience  a change soon.  The secret for navigating change is to identify the change and the impact, stay positive and make a plan.  In this way, like most of our successful clients, you will come through change better and stronger.