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4 Nonprofit Management Tips for 2020

By January 28, 2020

By: Amit Patel

Looking for nonprofit management tips for 2020? A few strategic suggestions: As each new year approaches, we typically set goals and dream about ways to become our best selves. With the resetting of our calendars, we aspire to better ourselves personally, but we should also look forward professionally by setting goals and metrics at work.

As you look ahead to 2020 and the new decade to come, consider four resolutions for your nonprofit organization:

  1. Develop your 2020 goals while also defining or refining your vision for 2030,
  2. Partner in new ways with organizations as well as your staff and volunteers,
  3. Personalize your donor giving experience, and
  4. Celebrate your successes and impact with those who helped to achieve it.

1. Define goals and plans for the year and decade ahead

At the start of a new decade, nonprofits must look at what they have accomplished and what they hope to achieve over the next ten years. Setting a vision and game plan toward 2030 is imperative, but as the pace of change and innovation accelerates, consider how you can newly define or refine your organization’s evolving needs. Do you know the specific tasks you must accomplish this year to move towards achieving your nonprofit’s mission? Have you set a vision and long-term course for 2030 to accomplish your organization’s objectives? Most successful organizations have these game plans, but as the pace of change and innovation accelerates, consider how you can newly define or refine your organization’s evolving needs.

Your vision, mission and any existing strategic plan are long-term goals. How can you break down your overall vision into a 2020-specific mission? Will you grow your organization by reaching a certain number of people or expanding into new geographies? Has your organization been dreaming of adding a new service to your offerings? Can you better understand and support the needs of employees, members, and volunteers through feedback sessions and surveys? What are the actionable and attainable steps to achieving this year’s goals? Here’s a helpful e-book from on impact measurement.

Once you’ve defined these measures of success, teach and empower your staff and volunteers. Get them excited and directly involved in accomplishing your organization’s goals. Let volunteers and staff know that they are a crucial part of achieving the dreams and successes of your nonprofit!

 Volunteers in the community

2. Partner with the community

No individual or organization changes the world on their own—meaningful and sustained impact only happens in partnership with others. A recent study on 12 high-impact nonprofits, published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, highlighted six patterns of effective and successful nonprofits. More than one focus on the importance of collaboration—both with others in the sector as well as across sectors. Not every organization is capable of meeting every need internally, nor should it be. Excel at those things that fall within your mission while partnering with other organizations to provide for needs that fall outside of your mission.

For example, an organization devoted to shelter and food to the homeless can partner with a variety of organizations across industries to expand its impact: a mentoring organization to help with academic and learning needs, a counseling organization to help with emotional needs and traumas, and a medical organization to meet physical needs. Don’t lose sight of your mission – instead explore partnerships with other organizations to maximize effectiveness in caring for your community.

Has your organization ever considered partnering with a for-profit business? A recent Accenture survey showed that 80% of people in North America would buy more and/or donate more to a brand that was offering a unique product or experience through a partnership. Many for-profit businesses have “Buy-One, Give-One” campaigns in which they donate one product for every one purchased. Many companies donate their employees time in the form of pro-bono work or paid volunteering time for the employees. When potential partnerships with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations are on the table, the possibilities are endless.

While you’re looking outward, don’t forget how your own employees and volunteers drive your organization’s value. Would you move any closer to achieving your nonprofit’s mission without their help? Many organizations rely on volunteers to move the needle forward. Is there a sense of community in your own organization? Do you regularly celebrate the commitment and successes of your volunteers? Use monthly media mentions or awards at national conferences to recognize those who went the extra mile. Make sure that your organization’s members feel appreciated and understand their value and impact in driving your organization.

Online donors

3. Personalize your giving experience

The desire for a personalized experience or product is growing in all industries and nonprofit work is no exception. According to a recent Accenture survey, 66% of people say that they expect the same personalized experience from nonprofits as they do from technology, and 64% for people claim that they would donate 10% or more than they already do for a personalized experience. Let donors have a personal stake in your mission by providing a personalized experience.

As outlined in a recurring giving benchmark study, the best way to understand how to optimize recurring giving is to look at it from the donor’s perspective. Try to navigate your website – is it easy to find out what your organization does? Can donors give easily? Are you satisfied with your customer service? Likewise, if your organization has social media accounts or other advertisements, do they communicate the mission of your organization well? Do they compel donors to give as well as provide easy access to donation links? Use your website and social media accounts as an avenue to promote the meaningful work that your organization has accomplished.

According to recent Accenture research conducted across six countries, we learned that “between 60 and 70 percent of donors say nonprofits should use more digital technology, such as social media, online portals, mobile apps and handheld devices to communicate with people they interact with and serve. At the same time, less than half the respondents say nonprofits use social media effectively.” Social media can help donors feel more invested in your organization’s mission. Use social media to not only communicate your mission to a community but also as a platform to provide personalized stories and interactives of how every dollar donated is going to change someone’s life. Further increase donor engagement by starting an online giving campaign or recognizing donors who give above and beyond. Individuals are often persuaded to give or participate in something because their friends are sharing about it online. Ask your volunteers to share why they volunteer at your organization on their personal accounts and see how their peers are moved by their personal story and connection.

Thank you card

4. Celebrate your success and impact with those who made it possible

In addition to personalized ways to engage and give, donors are especially interested in understanding how their donations can make an impact. When a donor gives, they take pride in knowing the tangible outcomes of their donation. Donors are more compelled to give when they see their donation tied to impact overall. How will you tell your stories of impact in new ways to inspire new investment?

One way to promote your mission and motivate donors to give might be to use new technologies to help donors empathize with a cause. Sometimes they just don’t understand the importance or severity of your mission. A Washington Post article tells about how recent projects “have demonstrated the technology’s potential to tell real-life stories in more compelling ways.” Organizations are using tools like augmented reality (AR) to create experiences that inspire people to act, by showing them a world that is not their own, and internet of things (IoT) to meet donors digitally where they are physically. What if people could really see the circumstances that your organization is working to eliminate? The article tells about how Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools in Ghana, Guatemala, Laos, and Nicaragua, simulated a school in Ghana using AR at a Gala. That night, as people understood the reality of life in Ghana for the first time, Pencils of Promise raised $2 million and the video has been viewed nearly 8 million times since.

According to a recent Accenture survey of foundation leaders, 70% placed a priority on nonprofits using technology to achieve their mission and 80% said they would approve a grant for the creation of a technological capacity. How can your organization implement a new technology to help donors really understand the importance of your work?

Likewise, individual donors are focused less on whether donations support non-programmatic work as long as end impacts are achieved. Historically, the focus on giving has been to ensure donations are going directly to programmatic vs “overhead.” This is changing. Again, according to our latest survey, when asked if they care more about overall impact versus percentage of each dollar toward the mission, the majority of people surveyed said they care more about the overall impact.

No matter your 2019 success or setbacks, 2020 is a new year and new decade full of opportunities for improvement and even greater impact. We hope these nonprofit management tips set your organization up for both continued and newfound success.

For nonprofit management tips on measuring your impact, get this impact measurement e-book.

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About the Author

Amit Patel
Amit Patel

As a leader in Accenture’s Nonprofit Group, Amit helps domestic and international nonprofit organizations and foundations define strategic objectives and then design and implement successful projects that drive value. With over fourteen years of experience, Amit volunteers with several nonprofits across a range of causes. Passionate about making a difference in solving the challenges facing our communities, he believes that working together across the private, nonprofit and government sectors, we can solve these problems, strengthen our communities, and improve the lives of those we serve. Outside of work, Amit is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing tennis when the weather permits.