Who needs to think about succession planning?  We all do!

successplanning

 

I am thinking about retiring in 18 months.  Do I need to think about succession planning?  YES.

My organization is relatively flat.  Do I need to think about succession planning?  YES.

My organization is small.  Do I need to think about succession planning? YES.

I have only been in my leadership role for a year.  Do I need to think about succession planning? YES.

No matter the size, stage or structure of your organization, succession planning is something that deserves your attention.  Here’s why.

We should always be thinking about the next generation of leaders.  Who will take your place when you depart?  It is prudent to consider those who could step into your position upon your departure – whether planned, as in a retirement – or unplanned, as in an unexpected illness or resignation.  You want to leave the organization – and the team – in a position to succeed in your absence.  This is also important if you are getting a promotion, as you will want someone to move into your role quickly and seamlessly so you can assume responsibility in your new position as soon as possible.

In addition, you want to be sure that the person or people who step in to assume responsibility feel prepared and at least somewhat confident.  Whenever possible, look for opportunities to include employees in various aspects of your job.  This may mean including them in the annual budgeting process, inviting them to attend a Board meeting, or participating in an external meeting with a vendor or service provider.  Take a few minutes before the meeting to “set the stage” and follow the meeting with a debrief and time to answer any questions.

We should always be thinking about employee engagement and retention.  It is especially important in a flat organization to provide opportunities for employees to develop new skills and feel like they have opportunities to grow, even if a promotion is not in the cards.  Individuals who have a chance to spend time in a different department, attend a training course or enter into a mentoring relationship will not only learn and bring new perspective to their current role, but they will likely have an increased sense of loyalty to the organization.

We should all take responsibility for succession planning.  Finally, succession planning needs to be integrated and embraced throughout the organization.  It is NOT an “HR initiative”.  In order for succession planning to work, all leaders must share responsibility for talent management, retention and growth.   Make it a priority in your organization!

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

Advertisements

What Legacy are You Leaving?

legacy1.jpg

One of the things we strive to do at HUB Philanthropic Solutions is to leave our clients stronger than they were when we arrived. Most fundraising consultants balance two or three clients at a time. So this is continually on my mind. I think about what am I contributing to the organization’s long-term success.  You know, things will be in place long after I move on to a different client with a different mission.

So let me offer these suggestions:

  1. Train the junior development officer – We all know nonprofit staffs are slim. But if there is anyone at your nonprofit who reports to you, train them thoughtfully and train them well. Inform them of what needs to be done — and why. Explain your strategies thoroughly. Bring them in on decisions you make and invite them to meetings. Let them stretch their wings and manage their own projects. When you have donor visit bring them along. Help them craft remarks for your next events. You are grooming them to take on more responsibility and it will make them a stronger in their support role and arm the organization with a stronger employee when it comes time for you to move on.
  1. Make Strategic Plan—Would any of us jump into the car for spring break without a plan and a plan of where we are headed? Probably not. A Strategic Plan is a road map to where your organization is going. Most strategic plans look three to five years into the future. If your nonprofit doesn’t have one, work with your Executive Director, senior leadership staff, and Board of Directors to create one. This document should outline the purpose of an organization. It should also include key strategic goals and how the organization plans to meet them. Key areas should include Programs and Development. The plan is very important. Investors and stakeholders will look at the plan to determine how likely it is to achieve success.  Plus it helps everyone to be on the same page. The structures will vary quite a bit and a quick internet search will provide several good templates to get started.
  1. Make a Development Plan – Once the strategic plan is in place, a Development Plan should then be created. The goals for the Development Plan should tie together with the Development Goals that are outlined in the Strategic Plan, but contain detailed strategies and tactics. These should be one step more detailed. At one client site, they were struggling with turnover in the Development Department, so I created the Development Plan as a sort of “how to” manual.  That way, whoever holds the position in the future will be able to carry on the activities with consistency.

Doing these simple things will bring clarity about how to spend your time to be the most effective in your role.  It will also leave your organization stronger for the future. That’s a legacy we can be proud of.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Presents and Thank You’s and Lists…Oh My!

GoEnglish_com_BurningTheCandleAtBothEnds

The holidays are such a busy time of year for everyone.  We are scurrying around buying gifts…like the head-scratching gift for your Aunt Sally and the obscure toy that is at the top of your child’s wish list that you just have to find.  We are off to holiday parties, and waiting in line at the post office to mail packages and trying to get a photo for the holiday card that meets the approval of the scrutinizing eyes of the teenagers in the family.

As development folks, it’s also our busiest work season!  Final eblasts are going out, year-end letters are in the mail and hopefully, gifts are pouring in and you’re busy making calls and writing thank you notes.   On top of all of this, maybe a proposal has to get in the mail or you finally got that meeting set with a donor that you have been hoping you’d see about a major gift.

While gratifying and exciting (when you’ve found that perfect gift for cousin Andy, and, a large gift comes in as a result of cultivation and stewardship across the year), this time of year can be overwhelming and exhausting.  We are burning the candle at both ends to make sure that everything, both at home and at work, goes smoothly.

At this time of year, I’m not offering any thoughts on how to tweak that final eblast to include ideas about stock gifts or IRA distributions (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).  I do offer this thought, however…take some time for yourself.

You may think you don’t have an ounce of time to carve out for some “me time.”  But, work hard to find it.  Go to a yoga class and breathe deeply.  Make a lunch date and catch up with an old friend.  Go to the movies or a holiday concert – with a friend or by yourself.  Take a nap or read a book.  Whatever it is that brings you a little peace and joy during this busy time, make the effort to get out of the office and do it.  This little treat to yourself will go a long way …it will help clear your mind and recharge your battery so that you can be your best self – both at home and at work.

Happy and Peaceful Holidays to You and Yours!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Fundraising During National Disasters

Generosity-With-Heart

The overwhelming misery and human need emerging from the recent hurricanes impacting Florida, Texas and Louisiana have prompted Americans of good will to give generously to charities who provide direct aid to the victims. Athletes, celebrities and civic leaders have stepped forward and provided leadership for donations to meet the enormous needs of our fellow citizens.

It is inspiring to see the nation come together, putting aside differences, with generous donations in times of national disaster. History would suggest that millions of individual Americans will donate to relief organizations in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

As fundraisers, we wonder if donor fatigue sets in, and if maybe we should put a pause on our own fundraising efforts until the unfolding human tragedy fades from the front pages and the nightly news broadcasts. The answer is an emphatic NO!

We know at least two things from prior national emergencies. One is that the increased giving to meet the emergency will persist into the second year, so it makes absolutely no sense to try to “wait out” the period of donations to relief organizations.

The second thing we know is that there is no evidence of diminished giving to other non-profits following national disasters. Now is still the best time and the only time to make the case in the strongest possible terms, for financial support for your organization. Fundraising is not a zero sum enterprise. You are not competing for limited dollars with the legitimate and compelling needs of other people. You are only competing to tap in to the endless generosity of the human heart.

Remember, people give to your mission. Your mission is important to your donors before, during, and after a national emergency. If you haven’t already done so, make a donation to a relief organization to help the victims of the hurricanes. But after you do so, get to work on your next fundraising appeal for your non-profit organization!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What are your SWOTs???

Creative-swot-678x381

Early on in my career I received some good advice. My supervisor asked me to put together a Development Plan for the new fiscal year. Being new to the organization, I asked where the plan from the previous year was located.

Why? She asked.

Well, so I know where to start, I replied.

She told me she wanted to start with a SWOT analysis. At the next Development Committee meeting we took time to get feedback from our trusted volunteers. They shared what they thought were the organization’s Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. We shared our own insights as staff.

From that conversation, the Development Plan was born. It wasn’t a “save as” document where fiscal years were updated but strategies remained the same.

Instead a variety of new topics emerged and rose to the top. Even  better, we involved our volunteers in the process. They shared openly and had buy in with the ideas.

This was a valuable lesson and one I hope you will implement.

Our team steered the activities of the organization over the next year in a creative way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We realized the need for new committee members, the need for a second appeal letter, and implemented a strategy to increase online giving.

So next time are planning for your organization take time to do a SWOT analysis first. It’s time well spent.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Ready, Set, Give!

Ready_Set_Go

Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was a designed in response to commercialization in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).  This past year, 98 countries participated and over $177,000,000 was raised.  The number of organizations participating in Giving Tuesday continues to grow – 34,000 and counting.   Due to this growth and increased awareness, I am confident that your Board members, donors and other constituents will want to know how your organization will “get in on the action”.

Now is the time to plan!  The Giving Tuesday website, www.givingtuesday.org, offers a wealth of information, including a timeline and toolkits, to help you launch a successful Giving Tuesday campaign.  And, if your organization is located in Illinois, be sure to register and participate in, #ILGive.  #ILGive is an initiative of Forefront (Illinois’ state association of grantmakers, nonprofits, and advisors to the sector), that raises money for Illinois communities, brings in new donors, and increases awareness about local nonprofits while leveraging the national marketing of #GivingTuesday.

Since they have provided the details, I will simply add a few pointers of my own, which come from lessons learned with clients over the past few years.

Be cohesive in your approach

If your organization does a Holiday appeal, be sure that your Giving Tuesday messaging is consistent with your appeal.  For example, if you are sharing a success story about a client in your Holiday appeal, tell a related story in your Giving Tuesday campaign.  I have often found that the “simpler the better”.  Inspire your donors by sharing one cohesive storyline.  And don’t forget to include photos!

Make it personal

Because there is a chance that donors will grow weary of the number of emails, posts and requests they receive in a 24-hour period and may begin ignore requests altogether, try and personalize your emails as much as possible.  Include the recipient’s name in the body of the email and utilize a creative subject line.

Giving Tuesday also provides a great opportunity to enlist your Board members and volunteers.  Ask them to forward the Giving Tuesday email/link to their contacts and include a personal message about why the organization is important to them.  Recipients are more likely to open an email from a friend – and they are more likely to give when there is a personal connection.

Utilize a match

Big or small, the use of a matching gift is inspirational to donors.  If you have a donor who is interested in providing a match or challenge for Giving Tuesday, take advantage!  Donors love it when their gift goes farther.  If you do have a matching or challenge gift, try and keep it as simple as possible.  For example, the Smith Foundation will match every dollar raised up to $2,500.  A challenge is also a good way to inspire new donors; for example, the Smith Foundation will match all new gifts 2:1, so for every dollar a new donor gives, the Smith Foundation will donate $2. 

Watch your timing

While you want to be sure your donors are aware of – and donate on – Giving Tuesday, be strategic.  Consider sending an email the week before to let them know Giving Tuesday is just around the corner.  When the big day arrives, consider sending two (or three, at most) emails to your constituents.  The first could be timed to arrive when people are getting to work or starting their day.  The second could be sent in the evening, when people are arriving home or winding down for the day.   That said, it is important not to inundate your donors; by sending too many emails, they may simply delete them all.

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

Does Your Organization Have a Development Plan?

Marketing-Roadmap-Success

For many of our clients, summer brings a bit slower pace…and with it, time to plan for the year ahead.  I am currently working with several clients on either updating or creating an annual Development Plan.  Do you have one for your organization?  If not, now would be as good a time as any to create one!  Here are a few things to consider.

Determine your fundraising goal for the year

This is often easier said than done!  Ideally, the Executive Director and Director of Development, in conjunction with Finance and the Board, should identify a realistic – yet stretch – fundraising goal for the year.  This goal should NOT be based on a “gap” in the budget.  Too often, when asked how the fundraising goal was identified, the answer I receive is, “Well, we determined the annual operating budget for the year, and there was a shortfall, so Development is responsible for “funding the gap”.  This almost always backfires and positions the Development office for failure.   This goal should be based on objectives and outcomes from the prior 1-3 years, along with an understanding of any specific needs in the year ahead.  A realistic stretch goal will challenge everyone to work a little harder – and smarter – to accomplish this objective.

Identify specific objectives and outcomes to ensure success

Events are an easy place to start.  Look at your revenue and expenses for each event from the prior 1-3 years.  Set a realistic target  – perhaps a 10% increase – to determine your fundraising goal for each event.  Next, identify ways in which you plan to attain those goals.  Are you doing enough to increase the number of sponsors for each event?  Is it time to raise the ticket price?  Are you giving away too many tickets?  Are there creative ways in which you can cut expenses?

The Annual Fund is another key component.  How many appeal letters are you sending annually?  Is it enough?  Are you sending too many?  What is the ROI on each appeal?  Once you have the facts, you can set your goal to increase your raise for the year.  Make sure you are considering all aspects of your appeals, which includes possibly segmenting and personalizing your letter.   Also, be sure you are telling a story about the work of your organization to make the letter more emotionally appealing.  Consider whether to incorporate Giving Tuesday into your annual fundraising process.  (Note, while there are a lot of great outcomes from Giving Tuesday, I do not feel it is the best use of time for every organization, so I recommend you do your homework and approach this thoughtfully and strategically.)

Consider other sources of revenue for your organization.  Do you have a Planned Giving Society?  Is your organization eligible for grants and/or corporate partnerships?  Set financial goals and specific objectives for each revenue stream.

And…I save the most important for last.  Your individual donors.  Have you defined your giving levels, including major donors (For example, those who give $1,000 or more annually)?  How are you cultivating donors at each level?  Once you have determined the baseline for each level, set a goal to increase the number of donors at each level and identify the objectives to ensure you meet these goals.  And here is the key:  Meeting this goal will require you to set aside time each week for donor cultivation.      

Be strategic

Look at all aspects of your Development operation to ensure that everything you do is supporting your fundraising goals.  Does your monthly newsletter highlight a donor?  Do you list your donors in the Annual Report?  Are you, your staff and/or your Board members calling donors to say Thank You?  Are you strategically publicizing your activities through press releases and other external communications?  How does the website highlight donors?

Creating a strong and realistic Development Plan takes time.  But by investing the time, creating the roadmap and ultimately working the plan, I am confident you can achieve your fundraising goals for the year.  Good luck!

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

What’s on your $ 1 Million Wish List?

what-if-billboard

During the campaign preparation process with one of our clients, a staff member recently offered up, completely unsolicited, a “$1 million idea” that she had developed. This particular individual knew that we were in the process of clarifying the campaign priorities and took the initiative to present a new program she wanted to see developed at the organization. It was an impressive move on her part, and one that also reminded me how important it is for organizations to have a list of potential funding options at the ready.

In my previous role as a development director for a public foundation, we talked with the executive directors and development staff at our grantee organizations about having just such a wish list on hand. The challenge was to have compelling and viable options at the ready and be able to answer the question, “Do you know what you would do with $1 million (or $5m or $10m) if someone came to you with that kind of offer?

There are a couple of things I specifically love about this exercise.

  • First, it is always a good idea to have a menu of funding opportunities on hand to offer your donors in the event they either have interests outside of your current funding priorities, or they are inclined to make an impact investment  beyond the scope of your current ask.
  • Additionally, going through the process of discovery and creating your “what if” menu is a great way to engage the people who care about and have a stake in your organization’s future and to get everyone thinking about impact.

Do you have such a list? Is it something you update regularly or share with your board members and key donors to get their feedback on?

In my experience, as long as the conversations are framed appropriately (so that everyone’s expectations are clear), discussing what ifs with your program staff, donors, current/past board members and other key folks in your organization is not only a smart planning strategy, it’s also a great way to engage people in thinking creatively about your future and focusing together on how you might have an even greater impact.  I mean, who doesn’t like to dream big, right?

by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Countdown to the End of the Fiscal Year

countdown-30

With spring weather approaching (we can only hope!), I find myself gearing up to clean out closets, wash windows and get things in order at home.  I want to be ready to spend more time outside…running (because it’s finally light outside in the morning), working in the garden, riding bikes and watching my son play baseball.

At the office, I also find myself readying for a new season…and also counting down to the end of the fiscal year.  As most non-profits close the year on June 30, we are in the final stretch to meet our fundraising goals.  It’s a good time to review our budgets…and see where we may be up a little (cheers!) or still have a ways to go.  Now is a good time to take a hard look at each revenue bucket and make final adjustments to our plans to reach…or maybe even exceed our goals.

Is your Gala just around the corner?  Maybe it would be beneficial to add a few more visits with potential sponsors or underwriters.  Enlist your committee or board members and ask each one to bring an additional prospect to the table.   If you have a major gift program, make a mini pyramid of prospects and list the potential gifts that you could work to secure from now to the close of the fiscal year.

How about a spring mailing?  Gone are the days when not for profits only send out one mail appeal at the close of the calendar year.  I’ve found that a spring mailing that asks for support of a special project or has a matching component can go a long way.  Some years ago, one of my clients mailed packets of Forget Me Not seeds to lapsed donors.  Another organization asked their alumnae to make gifts in variations of 3’s… a number special to the organization.  All of these direct mail pieces were complimented by email blasts that were sent before and after the mailing and included options for giving online.  These ideas were creative and not overly complicated, they didn’t break the bank, and, they made it simple for the donor to make a gift.

As we tweak our year-end activities, it’s also perfect timing to begin thinking about our plans for the next fiscal year.  What worked well this year?  What didn’t?  What projects were on the list that we weren’t able tackle?  I always find that a short-term plan with clear goals and specific metrics helps guide me to the finish line.  It’s my short burst to complete the marathon of the fiscal year.  As you gear up for spring, both at home and at the office, enjoy the sunlit mornings, warmer weather and, cheers to your well-mapped out trek to close another successful year!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Are You Using Your Roadmap?

 

road-map

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe 2017 is upon us…have you made any resolutions?  For me, resolutions tend to work in the opposite direction.  For example, if I decide I am going to cut back on eating sweets, it seems that sweets (chocolate in particular) is always on my mind.  If my resolution is to read the news for 15 minutes every morning, I find I am lucky to get to it by 10p.  So, I decided a few years back that my resolution is to not make any resolutions!  It has worked well for me thus far; however, there are a few things I do try and be diligent about, especially as a new year begins.  One of these things is to always have my phone handy, as it has one of my most favorite apps: Google maps.

For those of you who know me, you are probably well aware that I am directionally challenged.  The other day, my husband and I went to the mall.  The good news is that I know how to get to all of my favorite stores in the mall.  But as we began searching for a parking spot that very crowded day-after-Christmas, I suggested a parking location.  My husband very gently said, “I think I am going to park over in that section”, which was nowhere near my recommended spot.  As we were walking towards our destination store, I said, “Oh, this is so much closer!”  And he jokingly said, “Yes, when you made a suggestion, I thought…I am going to go in the complete OPPOSITE direction from what Susan suggested and we should be fine.”  And we were.  So, now you have a sense of the extent of my lack of direction.

Having the ability to google an address and get step-by-step directions is an amazing gift for people like me!  It is so much easier to get places on time, avoid traffic jams and have the ability to relax and truly enjoy the ride instead of wondering if you are actually headed in the right direction (I must admit, I have been on many trips during which I actually drove many, many miles in the wrong direction).  Given my job, I use Google maps on a daily basis and know I would be lost without it.

For the past few weeks, we have been working with one of our HPS clients on their 2017 development plan, which is their “roadmap” for the year.  We have had many conversations about what goals to include, how much to push the team in terms of fundraising and other development activities and our “destination” – what we hope to accomplish this year.  The best part about having this plan in place is that our client “knows where they are going”.  If ever they get to a point where they feel overwhelmed or lost, they can look at their development plan for guidance – and assurance that they are actually making progress each day.

When working in development, it is easy to get distracted, lose sight of what we are trying to do, and feel like the work will never get done.  And while it takes work to prepare for the journey by taking time out of an already overly full schedule, having a development plan in place will ultimately make this journey a little easier.  So, if you haven’t yet drafted your 2017 roadmap, it’s not too late…and I promise it will make the journey a lot more fun.

Cheers!

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