This article is originally published on Bristol Strategy Group which is a “knoweldge” partner of Your Funding Network.
How DO You Know You’ve Been Successful This Year?
PS: Board Member Opinions Don’t Count.
Leaders, managers and directors of nonprofit organizations need to know how successful they’ve been at the end of the year so they can plan wisely for next year. Yet our research shows:
Only 65.5% of nonprofits track total income compared to goal.
Only 49.5% of nonprofits track income by funding stream to goal for that stream.
And 83.6% FAIL to have documented ideal-donor profiles including giving motivations.
These statistics are alarming. They suggest too many nonprofits base decision-making on gut feel and anecdotes, rather than data. Failure to track progress against plan regularly means leadership doesn’t know the “brutal facts,” and can’t correct course when results are undesirable. Lack of ideal-donor, ideal-corporate sponsor, ideal-grant-maker, even ideal-board-member profiles leave the fundraising team (and the nominating committee) shooting in the dark. There are other risks as well.
We believe that great leadership and great management require good answers to these questions, yet the evidence suggests far too few NPOs and NGO’s have those answers.
One of our clients, the leader of a mid-sized development team, put it this way. “When we stand before the governing board, we can only share anecdotes about our progress. Invariably, this turns a positive conversation into a negative one.” No leader wants an angry, dissatisfied board.
The CEO of a major organization, with a budget in the hundreds of millions a year, told us this: “We track our progress relentlessly throughout the year, emphasizing metrics about things we need to do early in the cycle, the leading indicators. We’re dedicated to our mission, and we always know where we stand, so our staff AND our board are eager advocates.”
Regardless of your nonprofit’s size, sector or mission, the risk to the organization’s sustainability, even its survival, relies on leadership’s ability to know what’s happening now, not just what happened last year. In other words, accurate, meaningful reports comparing progress to goal, and the ability to interpret those reports, suggest improvement initiatives, or correct course where needed.
It’s not just the way you DO fundraising. It’s the way you MANAGE it.