It’s spring here in the Pacific Northwest. Flowers are bursting open, allergies are going wild, and the locals are donning their shorts and flip-flops with the first sign of sun. As we slowly move away from the gray and drizzle, we begin to think about ways to clear out the clutter and reorganize to make our lives more streamlined and, honestly, more presentable to the outside world.
What if we take that same approach and apply it to our nonprofit programs?
I hear time and again, “If only I had something new and exciting, then we would get the grant.” Or, worse yet, I’ve seen organizations take on the new and exciting so they could apply for funds, even if the project wasn’t mission-centered. Just because you can find funding to support a tranquility garden next to your office, doesn’t mean you should jump down that rabbit hole.
Now is the time to take a critical eye to your current projects and find ways to polish them up and repackage them so that grantors and donors will want to invest (or reinvest) in the great work you are already doing.
Here are four suggestions:
- Everybody loves a theme
- We’ve seen these campaigns time and again: Coats for Kids during the winter months? Summer rec programs to help kiddos stay active while school is on break? A timeframe helps create a more tangible project with quantifiable outputs and outcomes. How can you create a new, exciting campaign for the community to rally behind?
- Build bridges and leverage support
- Sometimes funders decide they only want to fund “objects” such as school supplies or new equipment, but then there are other funders who see the value in investing in operations and staff time. Could you use one foundation to leverage the other? You bet! Doing so helps bring the community together to accomplish even more.
- Measure something new
- Chances are, you are already measuring something in your program. Perhaps you are keeping track of attendance or counting how many hours of service you have provided. What if you went beyond the outputs and started to measure the impact you are having on the people you serve. Is there space in your program for a pre and post survey to measure an increase in understanding, a shift in behavior, or a new skill learned? You may be impressed by what you discover or, conversely, you may decide to alter your services to generate greater impact.
- Partner, Partner, Partner
- Few things are more appealing to a funder than seeing two organizations partner to accomplish more, together. Take a look at the population you are serving. Are they receiving other services somewhere else? For example, let’s say your provide clothes to low-income families and you know those same families are also receiving food from the food pantry across town. What if you partnered together for a one-stop-shop service model – AND – you decided to take that service directly to low-income communities to help eliminate one more barrier for the people you serve.
Deciding to move forward with one or more of these suggestions is a great way to reinvigorate your programs, staff, and organization. Keep it fresh, keep it mission centered, and you simply can’t go wrong.