Every nonprofit aspires to provide positive outcomes for its beneficiaries. However, to do so successfully, your organization must master many moving parts—from acquiring donors to managing finances to engaging its employees.
It’s not uncommon for nonprofits to have to make do with limited time, energy, and funds. That’s why, when it comes to making the most of your resources, you’ll need to assemble a powerful technology toolkit, effective teams, and detailed data. You can get started by following four simple best practices:
- Embrace technology solutions.
- Invest in your managers.
- Strengthen board governance.
- Leverage data for decision-making.
Your nonprofit must juggle a multitude of essential activities and responsibilities to continue fulfilling its purpose. By taking the time to improve your basic operations, you’ll be able to tackle your goals with fewer roadblocks.
1. Embrace technology solutions.
Technology has permeated almost every aspect of modern society. As a result, how nonprofits choose to apply technology affects their interactions with donors and their ability to secure critical support for their missions. Whether you’re designing your donation page or partnering with a text-to-give provider, making use of the tools at your disposal allows your organization to save time and energy on necessary, everyday tasks.
Some key technology solutions that can be useful to nonprofits include:
- Donor Management Software. This software grants you the ability to sort important donor information, such as their demographic details and communication preferences, into individual profiles. This makes it easy to track engagement, personalize your messages, and ultimately build a strong, lasting relationship with each donor.
- Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a website builder that facilitates creating an engaging, high-quality nonprofit website without any coding required on your team’s end. With the ability to add your branding across website elements and optimize your pages for mobile use, your organization can effortlessly establish an online hub for sharing information about its cause and engaging with supporters.
- Email Marketing Software. By employing email marketing software, your nonprofit can send newsletters and other personalized emails to specific segments of its audience. Additionally, you’ll be able to access analytics and reporting tools to evaluate your email campaign performance and improve your future efforts.
- Social Media Management Tools. Social media is highly valuable when it comes to spreading awareness of your nonprofit and uncovering new donors around the world. With social media management tools, your team can schedule posts and measure results with ease.
- Video Conferencing Platform. Your nonprofit’s success depends on productive collaboration between staff members, board members, external partners, and volunteers. A video conferencing platform, like Zoom, enables face-to-face communication regardless of location or space.
A study conducted by NonProfit PRO found that 40% of nonprofit leaders indicated a “lack of resources” to be one of their organization’s top challenges, with 70% stating that they’re lacking in specific positions or roles. By embracing technology and automation, your nonprofit can free up more of your staff time and energy to concentrate on mission-critical activities.
2. Invest in your managers.
Your nonprofit’s managers are an indispensable link between your overall mission and your day-to-day operations. They’re responsible for fostering a fulfilling work environment and aligning team members with their goals. By providing purposeful, actionable training to managers, you’ll empower them to do more with limited resources and increase your organizational capacity.
According to Laridae’s nonprofit management overview, dedicated training can help managers thrive by teaching skills and best practices related to:
- Recruiting and onboarding new team members.
- Recognizing and fortifying staff strengths.
- Helping team members identify areas for improvement.
- Setting clear expectations and delegating tasks.
- Improving team- and organization-wide communication.
Nonprofit managers face unique circumstances and challenges in their positions. By investing in their training, you’ll equip them with the confidence, skills, and mindset to succeed. As a result, your whole team is likely to benefit.
3. Strengthen board governance.
Board members play many crucial roles to ensure the long-term success of your nonprofit. From uncovering major donors to overseeing the annual budget, they set the foundation for how well your organization can continue furthering its mission.
To strengthen governance and cultivate a dynamic, unified board, consider these tips:
- Prioritize diversity. When recruiting board members, aim to assemble people of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, and backgrounds to promote more well-rounded discussions, decision-making, and viewpoints.
- Clarify responsibilities and expectations. Board members should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and what is expected of them in their roles. For instance, if your organization is about to conduct nonprofit strategic planning, let them know what input you expect them to provide during the process. Then, supply them with everything they need to review and approve your plan at the end.
- Conduct regular self-assessments. Strengthening board governance is an ongoing process that requires frequent reflection. Establish a process for encouraging board members to reflect on the board’s current performance and offer feedback on how to improve it moving forward.
- Develop a succession plan. Be prepared for board transitions by creating a succession plan that prepares for upcoming vacancies, takes your current strategic plan into account, and maintains an ongoing list of potential candidates to consider when a vacancy occurs.
Just as your managers need training to deliver more effective guidance to their teams, your board members need governance training to hold more efficient meetings, work together more productively, and make more informed decisions.
4. Leverage data for decision-making.
Whether you’re planning your next fundraiser or preparing to launch a new program, it’s vital to reference your past performance and strategies to guide your efforts. Learning from experience is an essential skill in any area of life—especially for nonprofits looking to generate a meaningful impact in their communities.
Collect data related to your organization’s program outcomes, finances, donors, and marketing engagement to inform your plans for future initiatives. If you need to gather more information, NPOInfo’s donor data management guide recommends sending surveys to supporters or investing in a data append to fill in any gaps.
Be sure to outline clear data entry procedures, define a process for handling data errors, and collect only essential donor information to maintain data hygiene. This ensures that your nonprofit always has accurate, up-to-date information to reference when planning its next event, program, or outreach.
Remember that streamlining your nonprofit operations is an ongoing process. After all, the landscape and conditions are ever-changing, and there is always room for improvement. If your organization is tight on resources, adopting innovative technology, strengthening your teams, and leveraging data can help you make the most of what you have.
Furthermore, you can even consider turning to a nonprofit consultant for specialized support. These professionals can lend their expertise to supply your organization with the latest tools, tips, and skills to amplify your impact. By adopting a mindset for improvement, your nonprofit will be well on its way to working efficiently and effectively toward its goals.
About Valentina Kibedi, Director of Learning Services
Community development and partnership building have been at the heart of Valentina’s career. For over ten years, Valentina has been building a range of experience in the non-profit and for-profit sectors.
Valentina has a passion for supporting mission-driven organizations to develop customized, actionable strategies, and transform their cultures. At Laridae, Valentina leads a range of strategy, facilitation, and planning projects, and provides training and coaching to non-profit professionals across Canada.
Through strategic facilitation, stakeholder engagement, management and leadership training, and coaching, Valentina helps leaders implement change that lasts, and supports them to develop resilient teams and organizations.
Valentina holds a degree in Criminology from York University and has volunteered for a variety of non-profits across Ontario.
Danielle Rocheleau, C.Dir.,CEO
The foundation of Danielle’s professional experience, career, and passion has been rooted in community development.
Prior to consulting, she held executive roles with the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC) and Peterborough & Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED). While in those roles, she facilitated international partnerships in agricultural and environmental research at Trent University with the aim of driving commercialization and a local innovation economy, as well as managed the business advisory centre (BAC) offering guidance to small businesses. As a result of her work with GPIC, Danielle worked diligently with partners which resulted in $35 million invested in research locally, a number of international partnerships in Japan and across Europe, the beginnings of research centres in biomaterials and small ruminants, and over 100 new jobs.
Danielle has an educational background in Mass Communications from Laurentian University and Public Relations from Cambrian College. She recently completed her Chartered Director (C.Dir.) program at McMaster University. Bilingual, Danielle is originally from Timmins.
Caitlin Patterson, Director of Consulting Services
Caitlin Patterson is a Metis woman with roots from the Highland Waters Region and Kawartha Lakes in Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Women’s studies with an emphasis on Indigenous women and a certificate in Non-profit Leadership for Impact from the University of Toronto. Caitlin has years of experience working with national organizations to create culturally relevant opportunities with Indigenous youth, leading program operations, brand development, and organizational growth.
As a consultant and inclusion specialist, Caitlin applies a culturally informed approach to strategic planning, facilitation and stakeholder engagement, organizational crisis/risk management, and strategic governance. Caitlin has completed projects that include cultural audits, diversity & inclusion consultations, equitable program development, diverse strategic visioning, with organizations such as Girl Guides of Canada, Association of Midwives Trust, York Catholic District School Board, Small Economy Works, and Ontario Camps Association.