As Seneca wrote, if you don’t know which harbour you are heading for, no wind is the right wind. He probably didn’t have fundraising in mind, but his quotation is strangely relevant to charity business planning today.
For those feeling daunted by 2012, a word of encouragement. It’s not all bad news. Yes, things will be tough, but we’re all getting used to that. Nevertheless, you will still need something to carry you through the year and help you raise the funds your organisation depends on.
In his blog this week Jeff Brooks talks about three self-destructive courses of action not-for-profit organisations are following in a flawed attempt to survive the current tough economic climate. He cites three main behaviours suggested by fundraising consultant Michael Rosen:
Do Not Have a Compelling Case for Support.
Ignore Current Supporters.
Given our experience of the last three years, I’d add a few more linked behaviours guaranteed to make it tougher for not for profits and charities to survive an economic downturn:
Last week, I came across an interesting article written by Suzanne Lucas on the BNET site entitled "9 signs your HR manager is terrible". In a nutshell, it's about how a commercial HR function doesn't always help the business achieve it's goals.
If you take a look you will immediately notice that it's fairly commercial and yes, a little USA-centric but there's a lot here other sectors and cultures can learn from. I'm no HR expert but like many, I've led and managed plenty of people and worked in lots of teams across commercial and non-profit sectors.
Consequently, the article got me to thinking about how some of the organisations I've been exposed to over the last 20 years have maybe missed the 'people' point. Here's my top five tangible things we don't always seem to do to focus on our people as the best way of helping us to meet our bottom line objectives, whatever they are. (Incidentally, by "HR", I mean the people in your organisation who are responsible for HR-type tasks - I know we don't all have a dedicated HR department)
Steve Bridger is a well-respected (rightfully so) and experienced online community builder. His blog this week was interesting and challenged pervading views that social media isn't successful for organisations.
"The so-called failures of social media to deliver are misplaced; rather they are the result of our own failure to commit – to sustain an online presence for more than a fleeting, one-night stand."
Personally, I think this makes sense. If we all gave up learning to swim after the first uncomfortable width, we'd never appreciate the benefits of being able to snorkel or scuba dive in the future. Experience of hindsight tells us that some things will be worth persevering with.
I've been completing application forms for volunteer opportunities and aside from the fact that they are very long, it struck me that they are almost indistinguishable from job application forms. It appears charities are becomming fussier about who they will accept as volunteers; and I think this is a good thing. But that's for another blog. What I liked were the thought-provoking questions around successful teams and team dynamcis.
I will never stop believing, or probably saying that, whichever audience(s) we serve as organisations, their needs should underpin our thinking and actions. That's not to say that we shouldn't seek to achieve our own objectives - of course we should. The customer / supporter / volunteer is not always right and we have our own targets to meet.