I've always been a huge fan of setting goals and making lists. I credit much of the successes I've had in life to setting goals and working toward them. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that I love New Years resolutions. So as another year goes down in the history books, I present to you my New Years resolution wish list for the nonprofit sector:
Create More Content
We live in a world where we are more connected than we've ever been in human history. The internet has democratized who can reach a large audience and create social influence. It's time for nonprofits to catch up to the collaborative era of media, also known as Web 2.0. If you want your supporters to help you spread the word of your good work, then you need to give them content to share, a reason to share it and you need to do so via a medium that enables them. This means more pictures, more videos, more stories via email and social media. Trust me when I say this: No one is making photocopies of your expensive, glossy, color printed end of year report to share with their friends.
Start a Junior Board
Junior Boards are one of the most effective ways for a nonprofit to capitalize on the time, talent, networks and fresh ideas of young professionals. A Junior Board is similar to your standard board of directors, but with less of a time and financial commitment, as well less decision making power on the direction of the organization. Junior Boards should have their own agenda, responsibilities and events to organize and execute on. These events are one of your keys to reaching younger supporters. Junior Boards usually have age limits (no older than 35 in most cases).
Showcase Your Beneficiaries
Over $300 billion dollars will have been donated to U.S. nonprofits in 2013. But where is all that money going? Instead of just telling your donors how your organization fed 5000 hungry mouths in 2013, showcase a handful of the beneficiaries and how their lives were changed by your work. Donors don't want broad statistics -- they're too cold. They want to be able to personally connect with the work you're doing -- the work they helped make possible through their donation. Imagine this: At your organization's next gala, instead of selling a 10-seat table to your corporate sponsors, sell them eight seats and reserve two seats for beneficiaries of your work. Dinner will now be spent making a personal connection with the people their money directly affected. It's these connections that create repeated and increased giving.
Move Into Shorter Buildings
An elevator pitch is a short pitch that outlines your business or services. The term comes from the notion that it can be delivered in a short period of time, under two minutes, or the length of an elevator ride. Every time we speak with a new or potential client at WeDidIt, we ask them to give us their elevator pitch. We want to see how they sell their work and in my experience, most nonprofits must be headquartered at the top floor of the Empire State Building. On average, most "elevator pitches" we hear go on for over five minutes straight. This is a sure fire way to lose the attention of your audience and is definitely not good for communicating your organization to new potential supporters. No matter how "complex" your work is, you can properly describe your mission and organization in under two minutes. Leave the nitty gritty details for after you have the attention of a new supporter.
In the next five years, Millennials will comprise roughly 50 percent of the American workforce. Not only are Millennials your future employees, but they're also the majority of your future donor base. There is no excuse not to engage and embrace these future supporters, donors and board members today. Millennials are the most connected generation in history and therefore are in a better position than any other group to promote your organization's work. Embrace change, embrace new technologies, embrace the future of the nonprofit industry. If you can execute on the above resolutions then you're well on your way to embracing Millennials.
I'm extremely excited and optimistic for 2014. I think we're going to see some amazing things happen in the nonprofit sector this year. Never have we been in a more exciting time period for the social good sector!
What are your New Years Resolutions?