Before Jack Welch retired, he was quoted as saying, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
The start of a New Year is the perfect opportunity for nonprofit leaders to vision cast (or recast) for their staff, volunteers, and donors. Without a vision for where you’re headed, your philanthropic goals are likely to go out the window with your New Year’s resolutions … sometime in late March.
Casting vision for your nonprofit can be tricky. Your staff, board, and volunteers believe in the mission but can get burnt out from the day-to-day challenges of serving with a nonprofit.
The New Year is a great opportunity to remind each of your board members what you appreciate about the unique gifts they bring to the table – and not just the financial ones. Whether it’s their organizational skills, relational skills, financial prowess, or technological proficiency, each of your board members was brought on for a specific reason.
The same goes for your staff and other volunteers. They are likely going above and beyond because they believe in the mission of your organization. Yet, they are probably being given very few resources to make everything happen. That can be the exhausting reality in the nonprofit world. Simple gifts, handwritten thank you notes, or a festive party they don’t have to organize or clean up after can go a long way in boosting morale, reconnecting the team, and demonstrate your gratitude.
Paint a Bigger Picture
People give to charities for emotional reasons, not rational ones. But even the most devoted donors can lose sight of the reasons they choose your organization over another. Be diligent in painting a vivid picture for them of their impact. For example, don’t just ask donors to sponsor a child, tell them what life will be like for a child in the future compared to their current situation because of the generous gift. Don’t just show a drawing of a building, tell a story of someone walking into the new, modern facility with updated equipment and staff that can meet their healthcare needs right around the corner so they don’t have to wait for their nephew to pick them up and drive them 45 minutes to the nearest doctor. Your fundraising goals matter for a reason – life change – remember to share stories to reignite the emotional fire within your community of donors, staff, and volunteers.
Brag About Your People
Your volunteers, staff, and donors are your biggest fans and best assets, yet they may hardly interact with one another. They need to know they are part of a larger community who is passionate about the same things. Brag about them to one another. Tell your donors how your staff stayed to clean up after the gala and ended up having a dance competition. Share the story with your staff when a donor gives a heart-felt gift that – while not impressive on the balance sheet – is one of the most beautiful gifts you’ve received because of how it was given. You are the connection between all of your people, brag about their goodness.
Even Small Campaigns are a Big Deal
It’s a big deal to ask people for donations. Even if the campaign feels small in size, you’d better have a good reason for launching it. And you’d better know exactly why you need the funds, what they will be used for, and what difference it will make for the organization and in the lives of the people you serve. Make sure you have a strong partnership with your fundraising consultants to ensure your campaign will meet your desired needs. Then own it. Talk about it often and give progress reports. If you want a thriving organization, you need to champion your fundraising campaigns.
Strong leaders can cast vision to help everyone keep the big picture in mind, but they also take time to show gratitude, brag about their people, and champion their fundraising efforts. The start of a new year is a great time to recast the vision for your nonprofit so that you can reach your fundraising and life-changing potential.