Short Story

  • Sign up for alerts. Being on top of the timelines is very important!
  • Read everything. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to apply.
  • Engage in webinars and ask questions. Learn more and build relationships.
  • Be careful! Federal grants are reliable until they aren’t.

 

By Dave Overfelt

Build Something Sustainable

Some of this will apply with grants in general but there are some differences when working with federal grants. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but if you can find a reliable stream of funding, you can launch, grow, and sustain specific programs over a long period of time.


By Heather Dimitt-Fletcher

Institutional memory is a big concern in nonprofit succession planning. Many nonprofits have small staffs, especially at the administrative or operations level. Over 66% of nonprofits in the U.S. have an annual budget under $1 million dollars, thousands are grassroots organizations with dramatically smaller budgets. It isn’t uncommon for people in those positions to each be fulfilling three or four vital roles within the agency, similar to what you might see in a micro-sized business. Whereas, businesses look to cross training as an answer, that’s even more difficult for many nonprofits. Take for instance, the bookkeeping and accounting role in an agency. That’s a very specialized skill set. When you only have one or two other people at the administrative and operations level and they are fulfilling the needs for HR, marketing, program development and management, compliance, fundraising, grant writing, etc., there really isn’t anyone else at that level to cross train to do the books. That leaves cross training someone at the program implementation level which may be fine if your nonprofit provides free or low cost accounting services and all of your program staff are accountants. However, when the majority of nonprofits classified as grassroots to large are health and human services organizations, it’s a bit more challenging if your program staff are social workers or counselors. The challenge of who to cross train also applies when it comes to marketing, grant writing, HR or any other specialized area necessary for effective agency functioning. For most nonprofits, the skills to provide actual service to clients is a bit easier to continue either because there is an actual program manual detailing how service should be provided or because new programming staff have degrees, training and/or experience in the field. Even in programming, there can be difficulties when it comes to understanding the history of clients, building trust with clients, and in knowing contacts at other agencies to whom you can or should make referrals for your clients.

By Dave Overfelt

There are a lot of survey tools out there and it is easy to get tied to one because it is popular or familiar, which aren’t great reasons to use any tool. As you plan your survey, it may make sense to use one or more survey tools. Here I offer a general overview of the themes across survey tools and a more detailed discussion of individual survey tools.

Plan ahead and pick your tools around three core questions. Who are you surveying? What information do you want to gather? How do you want to report it?

Continue reading “Survey Tools”

Everyone Contributes

  • Retaining fundraising staff is challenging.
  • Turnover is costly.
  • Everyone needs to contribute to fundraising.
  • A team effort helps keep staff around.

Choir


By Heather Dimitt-Fletcher

One of the biggest discrepancies in expectations between nonprofit boards and executive directors is in fundraising. Fundraising frustrations are cited as one of the top reasons executive directors leave their organizations, either voluntarily or at the request of the board. Furthermore, expectation differences are also a top reason development staff leave. When the average tenure of an executive director is three to six years and the tenure of the top development staff member is sixteen to eighteen months, having everyone aligned when it comes to fundraising expectations is crucial if nonprofits are going to retain talent.

By Dave Overfelt

Search Engine Optimization best practices are always changing and recently have changed significantly with the implementation of Google’s BERT, a new natural language processing algorithm.

If there is one key takeaway here, it is that BERT is better! As you draft content for your blog or website, don’t worry too much about formulating your words to try and fool a search engine. Instead, pay attention to answering specific questions and writing good content. If you follow this approach, BERT will like what you do! 

If you have time and are interested, there is a great deal you can learn about BERT from experts in content marketing like Niel Patel.

The key is quality content!

 

Outline

  • Donors Understand
  • Focus Options
  • Target Materials

Find Focus


By Heather Dimitt-Fletcher

Nonprofits can have many funding needs. You may have read that statement and thought, “No kidding.” Here’s the important thing about that statement, more than likely your donors realize that too. They probably recognize that funding is necessary to offer case management if you’re a social services’ organization, to provide feed and tack for horses if you’re a therapeutic riding organization, or to have a theatre if you’re a youth performing arts’ organization. However, as an after school program, when you say to one donor “We need $300,000 to pay staff, $50,000 to buy new computers, $100,000 to provide after school snacks, $5,000 for books, and $1.5 million to build and equip a new gym,” it’s overwhelming. Maybe you know you would NEVER say that in person to a donor, but what about your print materials?

Continue reading “Find Focus”

Everyone expects to be able to easily find answers to all of their questions all of the time. 

By Dave Overfelt

Data is the lifeblood of our economy. Whether you are seeking funding, engaging volunteers or donors, or planning your next program or event, you are expected to use data to tell appealing stories. The challenge for nonprofits is that the internet and the massive investment from major tech companies into mobile technology has led many to believe data should be readily available to answer any question they have at any given moment. Prepare yourself!

By Dave Overfelt

Lean Six Sigma was created for and popularized by the manufacturing industry and has spread to other major industries over time. 

There are plenty of resources out there for understanding Lean Six Sigma, here we help you apply it at your nonprofit. Lean Six Sigma for nonprofits can help improve your performance and outcomes.

A Little Can Go A Long Way


By Dave Overfelt

Developing an in-depth understanding of Six Sigma requires general statistical knowledge but the basics are easy to apply to your day to day work. Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) effectively captures the process and approach that you can apply to make the most out of scarce resources.

 

Why Logic Models

  • Plan your work, work your plan!
  • Focus on outcomes.
  • Measure you work.
  • Tell a story donors want to hear!

 


By Dave Overfelt

What is a Logic Model

Logic models are in use across government, foundations, and nonprofits in order to describe programs and demonstrate success. In a broad sense, logic models describe how a program will work to solve a specific set of identified problems.