Staff Involvement In Strategic Planning & Keeping in Touch With Donors

Sections of this topic

    This week, two short and to the point pieces from Tony !!

    1. Staff Involvement In Strategic Planning

    Should/must nonprofit staff be involved in the strategic planning process ??

    With all of the discussion that I’ve seen/heard on this subject over the years, with the range of positions respondents have taken – from the globally inclusive to the highly restrictive, and considering the passions that this question and its responses often evoke, I offer, here, my attempt to clarify the issue:

    • The Board of an NPO has the sole responsibility and authority for determining vision, mission and strategic goals;

    • Staff of an NPO are employees who can be great resources in the vision and planning processes, but who do not have the authority, responsibility or mandate to shape the future of an NPO, just to pursue the vision the governing Board has adopted;

    • Absolutely, staff should be included in the process, but only when the Board, in its wisdom, requests/requires that participation;

    • Ideally, it would be wonderfully warm and fuzzy for all to be included in the planning process, and it would be preferable to have staff buy-in to the process end-product (the strategic plan); but,

    • The CEO hires/evaluates/replaces staff on the basis of whether they do their jobs in a way that supports/advances the NPO’s mission.

    It is not my position that staff should be excluded from the planning process, but neither should it be imposed upon a Board that they must include staff members.

    It might be nice if all aspects of NPO “vision-making and planning” tended toward inclusivity, but in some cases, more can be accomplished in “restricted” groups.

    The key is in knowing what would work best in specific circumstances, and not insisting it has to be any one way.

    2. Keeping in Touch with Donors

    Even if you successfully get donors to make site visits, to see personally what your organization does, and are able to reach out to them with visits to where they do their business, it is not enough.

    You need to do more !!

    After all, how many times a year will a donor be willing to come to the organization, or how frequently can you call for an appointment without becoming a pest? There are many ways to communicate and express interest in donors.

    Let’s begin by looking at communication that is more about the donor than the organization. Send birthday and other appropriate greeting cards. Send get-well cards and even flowers to a donor in the hospital. Keep your eye open for items about donors in newspapers. When you see one, clip it and send it along with a “congratulations” note to the donor.

    In the more formal communication media: You should have a regular newsletter that goes out to donors. By regular, I mean at least every other month. Actually, I would recommend monthly. The newsletter can be sent as paper or email.

    The latter will cost far less and make a more frequent schedule easier to maintain, but be prepared to get paper into the hands of those who do not want to receive email. I would expect that number to be very small and shrinking almost daily. The newsletter should be aimed at the donor community, rather than something that goes to everybody from clients to employees.

    Include donors on your press list and make sure they get copies of every press release you send out. Think email again.

    Send photographs of things the organization is doing. Again email is easier, quicker, and far less expensive.

    And, finally, send something special that reflects well on the organization. If you’re a social service organization and your clients make crafts, how about sending something made by a client?

    Share with donors the thank-you notes you receive from the people whom you serve – names withheld, unless you have an OK. Have clients of the organization write to a donor explaining the difference the organization has made in their lives. You would be surprised how many would be ready and willing to do so. Just ask.

    Next Week Hank Lewis revisits the GIFT TABLE,
    It’s Construction and its Use.

    Have a question or comment about the above posting?
    You can Ask Tony.
    There is also a lot of good fundraising information on his website:
    Have you seen
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    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

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