Has your organization set a New Year’s resolution?

| Business Miscellaneous

By Chris Mennel and Natalie Hopkins   It’s that time of year – time to set workout goals and lose those bad habits that the holidays helped create.  We all know New Year’s resolutions serve as a way to challenge us as individuals, but perhaps that should be extended into our organizations as we move into 2017. Let’s explore three areas that are easy to bypass when running organizations on a day-to-day basis, but could be instrumental steps for success in 2017.

Setting donor goals

Many organizations utilize a fundraising budget that can be tracked with actual comparisons throughout the year.  In order to help you meet these budgets, try setting targets in non-financial terms.  For example, maybe you want to contact 25 corporations and 10 major donors in 2017.  Consider breaking down specific categories into smaller groups. Instead of budgeting a dollar amount in grants, set a goal of 10 grant applications of less than $10,000, 10 grant applications of $10,000 to $50,000, and so on.  By examining your historical success rate and comparing it to your target number of asks, you’ll have a better idea which formula may bring the most success. Could putting efforts into one larger grant bring you the same financial results as spending significant time on multiple smaller grants?

Further, are your special events meeting your projections? Look at the “net” value of your events.  Yes, the gross revenues raised may be significant.  But when you offset the direct costs and more importantly, the indirect costs (staff and volunteer time), did the event create significant value to the organization?  Could you reach your target audience, tell your story, and add value to the organization in revitalized ways that go beyond the annual dinner/silent auction or golf outing?

Consider the impact on expenses

As you are looking at revenues, also consider the expenses necessary to support development efforts.  Internal grant writers, as well as outsourced grant writers, are common, especially in smaller nonprofits.  This may be an expense that you hadn’t considered before. It may be cost effective, freeing-up staff time to address other more vital issues. A fresh approach to grants could also make the addition of a part-time person or an outsourced contractor worthwhile. Similarly, nonprofits are increasingly adding donation management software to manage their donor relationships.  While it’s an added cost, the data it provides and the increased efficiency should be considered.

Don’t forget the overall structure

The overall structure of your organization is something that should be periodically evaluated to make sure you are operating efficiently. The start of a new year is a great opportunity to analyze committee roles. Should new committees be added or existing committees merged to better accomplish the goals of the organization?

What is the current composition of your Board of Directors?  Do you have the right mix of professional skills and are you adequately positioned for the future?  Board term limits are becoming a more common practice; however, this challenges organizations to ensure there is an adequate pipeline of board member candidates.

Use your Board of Directors as a sounding board for future goals.  Many organizations host annual board retreats where long-term goals are discussed and outlined.  There are various websites that offer free surveys.  Send one to your board of directors and ask them to evaluate such things as strengths and weaknesses of the organization, major challenges in the coming year or perhaps how they feel about the leadership of the organization.  Allowing board members to do this anonymously may invite constructive dialogue as you plan for the future.

Whichever area of your organization you decide to focus on, hopefully this New Year’s resolution will continue providing benefits well into 2017.

This post was written by:

Christopher Mennel, CPA
Senior Audit Manager

Chris oversees audit and accounting services, not-for-profit and consulting services. Chris’ specialties include manufacturing, distribution/wholesale, retail, health and welfare, service and civic organizations. Chris also prepares financial statement projections and other financial analyses.
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