The capacity of a sustainable organization is aligned with its constituents and its identity.
This post is part 3 of a 4-part series on Nonprofit Impact’s Sustainability Self-Assessment tool. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.
The Sustainability Self-Assessment uses questions developed by Nonprofit Impact and used in hundreds of planning and organizational development projects over the past 16 years. It is organized by the components of the Integrated Strategy. This post continues our 4-part series and focuses on the assessment questions related to capacity.
An organization’s capacity is the human, financial, technological, and organizational resources needed to provide necessary services to meet constituent needs and attain results towards mission; this defines capacity as comprehensive (i.e., more than just funding). read more…
Tagged With: capacity, integrated strategy, sustainability, tools
Constituents are as integral to a sustainable organization as hydrogen and oxygen are to water.
This post is part 2 of a 4-part series on Nonprofit Impact’s Sustainability Self-Assessment tool. Read part 1 here.
The Sustainability Self-Assessment uses questions developed by Nonprofit Impact and used in hundreds of planning and organizational development projects over the past 16 years. It is organized by the components of the Integrated Strategy. This post continues our 4-part series and focuses on the assessment questions related to constituents. read more…
Tagged With: constituents, integrated strategy, sustainability, tools
The identity of a sustainable organization is unique and distinct.
As state and federal budget cuts loom and private fundraising continues to be impacted by the weak economy, more and more clients are asking us about sustainability. While this interest in sustainability is primarily driven by funding worries, it is important to remember that true, long-term sustainability is about much more than money.
A strong, sustainable organization or agency has a clear, focused identity, a base of engaged constituents, and sufficient capacity (including funding) needed to get the work done. This more holistic understanding of sustainability informs our Integrated Strategy for Success and Sustainability.
If sustainability is top of mind in your organization or agency, then our Sustainability Self-Assessment tool will help you think about your current situation and identify gaps that may hinder and strengths that may enhance your sustainability. read more…
Tagged With: identity, integrated strategy, sustainability, tools
This volunteer tour guide's deep understanding of her organization's core constituents made this experience special.
After the training in Albuquerque, I rented a car and drove up to visit Ghost Ranch about an hour north of Santa Fe. If you’re unfamiliar with Ghost Ranch, it is a 21,000 acre property in the Chama River Valley of New Mexico, famous for being the home of the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe has been my favorite artist since my 7th grade art class and I couldn’t pass up a chance to visit the place that inspired so many of her paintings.
I arrived just in time for the “Georgia O’Keeffe Landscape Tour”, paid my $25 dollars, and off I went in a converted school bus with a driver, volunteer tour guide from the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, and 11 other tourists from Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Japan. Ghost Ranch began giving tours following an exhibit that featured photographs taken by art historians who hiked all over the ranch and located the exact spots where O’Keeffe had created some of her most recognizable work. Each photo was hung next to the artwork inspired by that view. People loved the exhibit so much that droves of tourists started showing up and tramping all over the ranch, threatening the fragile landscape. read more…
Tagged With: constituents, sustainability
Aligned capacity is critical to sustainability (image by topfer).
Last week I was with a group in New Mexico conducting a full-day training on organizational and program sustainability. We talked about the factors in their operating environment that make sustainability a challenge, like the down-turned economy and the changing priorities of major funders. We walked through the Integrated Strategy for Success and Sustainability and used it as a lens to assess what opportunities and gaps exist related to long-term sustainability. But things got interesting when the discussion moved from Identity and Constituents to Capacity. read more…
Tagged With: capacity, sustainability
February 7th, 2013 - Karen Buck
Your advisors should be helping you navigate complex challenges (image by gerard79)
Many nonprofit organizations opt to form advisory groups, perhaps as a way to honor or connect with major donors or to keep past board members engaged (and/ or to keep them giving!). For our public sector clients, advisory groups come about for different reasons – in response to a legislative mandate or a funder requirement or as an answer to a need to better engage (or manage, or appease) various stakeholders.
Despite having different origins, advisory groups in both sectors often share a common challenge: a lack of engagement.
It’s important to understand that this lack of engagement can run both ways. The nonprofit or government agency often says, “Our advisors never engage with us (or they engage around the wrong topics or at the wrong level).” On the other side, many advisory group members complain, “I don’t know what my role is. They invite me to a couple of meetings a year and talk at me.” read more…
Tagged With: partners
January 17th, 2013 - Karen Buck
Make sure to decide which ruler you'll use to measure the success of your fundraising efforts (image by Abrozjo)
I just got off the phone with a client we worked with on a fundraising plan last year.
- Client: So far our year-end mail and email campaign is up 50% over last year.
- Me: Congratulations! That’s great news!
- Client: Yes, but… the increase is really from two large gifts that came in out of the blue.
Hmmm. So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? It depends. read more…
Tagged With: fundraising, tools
December 31st, 2012 - Karen Buck
The start of the new year is an ideal time to reflect and make resolutions (image by gabriel77)
As the year draws to a close, it is a time for celebration. We at Nonprofit Impact feel extremely fortunate for all of the wonderful people and organizations we have had the opportunity to work with over the past 12 months. Thank you for the important work that you do.
This is also a natural time to reflect on the past and look toward the future. Many of us spend time considering changes or improvements we’d like to make and setting resolutions for the coming year. This process of reflection and resolution is useful not only for individuals, but also for organizations. read more…
Absent a clear strategy, any direction might be the right one (image by lusi)
I am always amazed how frequently the word “strategic” is used – especially when it is used to describe plans, decisions, and actions that actually aren’t very strategic! In part, this happens because strategic is a buzzword. But, it also seems that many people don’t really know what the term means.
The adjective strategic comes from the noun strategy: the deployment of resources towards a defined end. It derives from the military and originally referred to the deployment of troops to engage an enemy (In fact, its Greek derivation, “strategia” means generalship).
For our organizations and agencies, in the simplest terms strategic refers to making deliberate decisions, based on the context within which you operate (i.e., those forces and factors that define your operating environment).
In our strategic planning sessions, I often quote two noted authors and strategic planning experts to illustrate the meaning of strategic: read more…
Tagged With: strategy
December 4th, 2012 - Karen Buck
Test an event's feasibility to increase its likelihood of success (before all the hard work of planning it!)
My friend Jill* breathed a sigh of relief.
She was exhausted from working long hours planning her organization’s annual fundraiser, but she was thrilled with how the event was going. The 500 people filling the ballroom seemed to be enjoying their dinner. The auction had raised more than anticipated and the keynote speaker kept it funny, compelling, and brief.
Jill signaled the banquet captain and the doors to the ballroom swung open. A small army of waiters began bringing in the dessert course – individual chocolate lava cakes, each topped with a lit sparkler. The guests started to clap as the waiters spread throughout the room.
And then the sprinkler system went off. read more…
Tagged With: fundraising, tools