Nonprofit Horror Stories: George's Financial Peril
PREPARE TO BE SPOOKED WITH OUR REAL LIFE HORROR STORIES
We won’t bore you with talk of ghoulish haunted homes or creepy things that may be lurking in the dark. Terror comes in all shapes and sizes. In celebration of a month where The Walking Dead and Knott’s Scary Farm will be overly promoted, we’re here to tell you real life horror stories in the nonprofit world. There are frightening things you would not believe have happened, but does in real life. And these things happen every day.
While these horror stories will forever haunt our minds, considering we're nonprofit consultants, there's hope at the end of it all and we have a happy ending to how you can solve these unseemingly freaky mysteries.
THE HORROR: George was a beloved Programs Manager. He had grown both personally and professionally during his time in this particular position. Not only did staff and program partners enjoy working with him, but clients loved him dearly. It was clear that he was great as a Programs Manager and with such confidence in his abilities, the board of directors decided to promote George to a leadership position. Despite knowing that fundraising was his weakness.
In his new role, George further excelled as a leader, but when the board asked for monthly reports, George fell short. He never received training nor did he have anyone help supervise the financial components of his job role. Due to George’s lack of experience in this arena, he didn't know how to follow a development calendar, didn't oversee grant funding applications and wasn't creative in how to pull money in to the organization. A few months down the road with no tracking and accountability and the board was left with a leader who put the organization in financial peril!
THE RESOLVE: As a board member, you’ll want to be sure that any person who will be considered in a leadership role will be someone who is familiar with where to pull funds from, whether it’s through charity events, peer-to-peer fundraising or forming relationships with foundation officers.
Here are three key fundraising experiences you should consider in hiring a savvy leader:
THEY ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE GRANT APPLICATIONS PROCESS
Don’t know how grants work? The key to successfully attaining and retaining grants is understanding the process and commitment. The truth is that money never comes for free so just remember that what is earned must be well deserved. In addition to filling out an application that usually takes a week, foundation officers usually ask for a tour of offices and facilities, resulting into an additional day for staff to prep for a good impression. Some foundations also require quarterly reports as well as a final report to conclude how a grant may have impacted programming.
THEY UNDERSTAND HOW TO FOLLOW A DEVELOPMENT CALENDAR
Let’s be frank. Donations don’t pour in every day and while that is the dream of all nonprofits, it’s part of why every fundraiser should be proud to add the title, “Hustler” to their resumes. A usual development calendar will outline certain fundraising events that will generate revenue and gives an organization a sense of the highs and lows of when money will be coming in, which ultimately lends an idea of what financial peaks and burdens to expect throughout the year.
THEY SET FUNDRAISING GOALS AND TIMELINES
In order to set the budget, a strategic planning team needs to plan 18 - 24 months out in advance to see the big picture. Once a timeline is set, the team therefore builds everything backwards by reserving certain dates for events and creating deadlines for applications and donation appeals. This is important because it helps your team gauge if you should be doing what you think you should be doing and when certain things need to happen in order to stay viable. Specific things to look out for include galas, annual appeals and direct mail campaigns.
THEY KNOW BETTER THAN TO EXPECT FOR MULTI-YEAR GRANTS TO BE RENEWED
NEWS FLASH: Multi-year grants rarely ever happen. That’s why nonprofit professionals celebrate at happy hour if they can secure one for their organization. At some point, foundations and funders will want take a break from supporting you and move on to others in need. Instead of taking this personally, keep in mind that you can’t rely on having the same foundations to fund you over and over again. An experienced leader knows that their team should always look for more support to anticipate a non-renewal situation.
THEY DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF INDIVIDUAL FUNDRAISING
Just like today’s modern family dynamic, you never want to rely on any one source of income, especially if it’s government funding. Even if you are confident that you will be forever fueled by approved funding, chances are that your organization will remain stagnant with a stipend that will never expand itself, which will lead to no growth and no room to create financial reserves. Plus, there’s always the possibility of budgetary cuts at the government level which could result in less funding for your organization. And if you didn’t plan for financial reserves either, you could be in the same rut as George!
THEY ARE INNOVATIVE AND UNDERSTAND HOW TO DIVERSIFY REVENUE STREAMS
In a time where HR professionals are publishing articles on how to deal with “millennials” on LinkedIn, it’s clear that we’re living in a different society age than 30 years ago when donations were only received via in person or in mail. Very well into 2015, we're living in a nonprofit landscape where not only are organizations having to compete for the pockets of civilians, but there are countless ways to receive the money. Nonprofits now need to consider the entrepreneurial thinking of their teams and ask, how creative are we being with ensuring that we are generating enough money at the end of the day?
Luckily for you, we have an upcoming Entrepreneurs Bootcamp for Nonprofits on November 13 that’ll train you and any of your leaders on how to think and act like an entrepreneur in the modern nonprofit landscape.
Work with us to recruit and hire the ideal executive leader for your organization. We also provide development and fundraising consultation services.