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What the Best Nonprofits Are Doing Right

Looking for a little inspiration to improve your nonprofit? Fundraising consultant Joan Garry shares what some organizations are doing that really sets them apart.

  • Yours is a “workplace of choice.” Staff is your most important asset. “Hiring and retaining the right people is essential to serving your clients or community in the best way you can,” Garry posts in her blog. Citing the high cost of turnover, she states, “The best nonprofit organizations get the right people… pay them as well as they can, appreciate the hell out of them, are generous with comp time, and care about them like the three-dimensional people they are.”
  • Fundraising streams are balanced, diverse, and sophisticated. Garry says the best nonprofits diversify their revenue streams, raising both small and large donations from a mix of individuals and soliciting from a variety of sources. Instead of relying solely on events for fundraising, they add online and direct mail to their communications strategy.
  • A thoughtful long-term strategy is developed jointly by board and staff. Garry says it’s not a 5-year plan of key performance indicators, but instead a goal that the board and staff “can wrap their heads and hearts around, that they can raise money around, and (take) the big steps they have to take to get there.”
  • A clear, strong, and compelling external presence is created that includes “everything from a finely tuned ‘elevator pitch’ to a smart website to press visibility.”
  • Regular performance reviews and assessments are conducted for both staff and the board. Garry suggests implementing a strong Board Governance committee that administers a “simple self-assessment to each board member as a catalyst for a conversation about what’s working and what each board member needs to be successful.”

The “best traits” Garry lists are not indicative of only large, well-funded groups, she says. “The only resources you really need (are) passion, boundless energy, enough money and commitment to get the right staff, and a clear vision that invites smart and diverse board members to the table that are willing to do what’s needed to grow the scope and impact of your work.”

Those are just a few of her recommendations. For more information, visit “The 14 Attributes of a Thriving Nonprofit.”

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