3 Simple Tools to Help Your Non-Profit Grow
As a non-profit organization, your ability to continue fulfilling your mission—whatever it may be—is an uphill battle every day. Finding donors and volunteers, dealing with governmental regulations, and providing your services to the people that need them is no easy task. In fact, it’s a challenge that the majority of non-profit organizations are unable to meet. According to research conducted by the Washington Post, only about 28% of non-profits were still active after 10 years of operation. (1)
What causes these non-profits to fail? Obviously a number of factors can affect the success of an individual organization, but there may be some common threads that lead to failure. We’ve done some research, and we’ve found the 3 tools that non-profit organizations need to succeed. If you’re not already using these tools in your organization, then we strongly advise doing so in order to ensure the future success of your endeavor.
1. Social Media Network
You already know that you need support from your community for your non-profit to succeed. The people and organizations in your area are the ones who will provide you with donations, volunteers, and other forms of support that allow you to fulfill your mission. But how can you easily grow and expand that network?
A strong social media network is the most sure-fire way to reach out to individuals who may not know about your organization yet.
Though there’s no magical formula for finding donors, a strong social media network is the most sure-fire way to reach out to individuals who may not know about your organization yet. Have current supporters like or follow your social media account, and encourage them to share your posts—especially those about upcoming events or calls for donors. This spreads the word to all of their friends and followers, helping you to reach out to new potential donors and volunteers.
Though a full 97% of non-profits are on Facebook, more than half of them are not allocating enough time and resources into managing this tool. In fact, in one study, half of respondents only had one employee working on social media efforts, and this individual often split their time with other tasks. A large portion of the remaining respondents admitted to just “winging it” when it came to social media usage. (2)
Remember, generally speaking, large donations from businesses and organizations only make up a small percentage of a non-profit’s income. (3) If you really want to garner the financial support your organization needs, then you need to reach out to individuals, and social media is the best way to do that. So make use of this tool, and allocate the right amount of time and resources to it if you want to see results.
2. A Full Cost Analysis
Every once in a while, it’s important to step back and do a full, thorough cost analysis of your organization. This means a lot more than simply looking back over your books to see what your overhead costs were this quarter; it means getting down into all the details of where costs are allocated, if the costs are justified, and how they can be adjusted. This is a vital tool that your organization should be using on an annual basis, particularly if your non-profit offers multiple programs.
A full cost analysis for such an organization will help you determine which programs contribute to the organization’s income, which programs receive the bulk of the organization’s funds, and where programs and costs can be adjusted to ensure each program is contributing to the organization as a whole.
Again, this is a complex, detailed financial analysis for your company, and you shouldn’t try to do it on your own unless you have a lot of experience in this field. In order to make proper use of this tool, you should have an expert financial advisor perform the analysis for you.
3. A Document Organization System
Non-profits—especially smaller ones—have a general reputation for being poorly organized. This is usually directly related to a lack of funds and resources to properly organize paperwork and keep track of the many types of documents associated with running a non-profit organization. However, failing to keep documents properly organized can lead to difficulties in raising funds and enlisting sufficient volunteers.
Failing to keep documents properly organized can lead to difficulties in raising funds and enlisting sufficient volunteers.
For example, if you have a propensity for losing volunteer release forms, and your volunteers feel that they are filling out the same paperwork every time they help with your organization, they may search for other philanthropic ventures to participate in. The same idea applies to your donors; if they wish to make regular donations, but you continue to lose their personal information and require them to provide it every time they donate, frustration may lead them to focus their generosity on another cause.
Though you may not have total control over the resources at your disposal, a lack of manpower doesn’t have to equate to a lack of organization with your documents. Employing proper document management software will help you to easily organize volunteer release forms, donor information, event registration forms, tax exemption paperwork, financial reports, and any other form of documentation associated with your organization. It minimizes the need for manual labor, which means you can stay organized even if you are your only source of regular manpower.
Your non-profit is trying to do some good in the world, and it shouldn’t be prevented from doing so simply because you didn’t use the right tools. There are ample ways that you can simplify, organize, and find additional funding for your non-profit, if you only use the tools listed above. These tools can help lead your organization to financial stability and greater growth, allowing you to do even more to improve your community and the world at large.
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