News & Updates

Simple 6 Point Guideline For Grant Writing

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 4.00.09 PMTo simplify your grant writing, use this simple guideline to collect and prepare your information.  Foundations and organizations often have specific formats they desire, but if one has the essential information, it should be easy to complete the applications.

1) Who:

is in need of this project-program

is to benefit

is to do the work

is to help pay  — matching $ etc.

is to manage and report back (accountability)

is ultimately in charge of the project-program

2) What:

is the reason that this is so important?

is the location of the project-program?

is the short term and long range outcome for the society?

is the benefit that makes this so important?

is the priority that distinguishes this effort?

is plan B if this request is not granted? Read More

How to Stay Focused on Your Nonprofit’s Goals

What did you do last week that moved your nonprofit forward?

I mean something big, something you can truly measure.

It’s funny, but those huge accomplishments usually start with something very small. The difficult part is knowing what to concentrate on and having laser-like focus to get it done.

I’ve found the best way to complete these goals is to measure what I do each week that moves me closer to them. How do I do this? I track my time.

In this post I’ll give you three reasons to start tracking your time, even if just for a week. I’ve also included a video at the end of the post that will make it even easier for you to get started. It shows you exactly how to start tracking your time in just five minutes.

Here are 3 BIG benefits of tracking your time:

1. You Can Set Boundaries for Yourself (And Others)

Tracking your time can help you set beneficial boundaries for yourself and others. By tracking in real time you can start identifying patterns in your day and determine what restraints to put on yourself and others.

Pay attention to interruptions that happen throughout the day and the reasons for them. Could you have prevented some of the interruptions with a quick conversation, outlining when you needed uninterrupted time?

Read More

NBB 30 minutes social media
0

How To Manage Your Nonprofit’s Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day

If you groan every time you see social media on your to-do list because the time commitment seems unbearable, this post is for you.

Social media doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time. If you plan your content using a monthly content calendar, you can keep your audience engaged with just a few minutes per day. By spending a little time in between projects to check social networks, you can have them easily under control.

But there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch!)

You’ve gotta have a plan.

Why? Because “checking” Facebook leads to the one thing Facebook is best at: wasting time. Before you know it, the day’s half over and you’ve missed lunch.

Here’s an example schedule for keeping up with your social networks throughout the day. You can schedule your social media at whatever time works best for you. The times next to each one are just meant to demonstrate a sample schedule.

One other thing to keep in mind: this schedule can change depending on what social channel is dominant for you. For example, your nonprofit might be the most active on Facebook and not have a presence on Twitter. So instead of spending 15 minutes on Twitter, I might put the extra time into responding to comments on Facebook and creating new content.

Alter the schedule to fit your situation.

BLOG | 8:00 – 8:04am

  • 4 minutes: Respond to any comments

FACEBOOK | 9:00 – 9:06

  • 3 minutes: Write one status update
  • 3 minutes: Read and respond to any comments on your page from the day before

TWITTER | 10:30 – 10:45

  • 2 minutes: Write one tweet
  • 3 minutes: Read and respond to @replies
  • 3 minutes: Read your tweetstream and keyword searches. Respond to relevant content in your timeline if you have something good to say back.
  • 3 minutes: Retweet something that you think your followers would benefit from hearing
  • 2 minutes: Follow back relevant people who have followed you
  • 2 minutes: Write another tweet to schedule for later

YOUTUBE | 12:05 – 12:10

  • 2 minutes: Respond to any comments on your wall
  • 3 minutes: Comment on someone else’s video

Great! We’ve got the daily content down. Now let’s look at the weekly and monthly plan.  Some things we don’t need to do every day, so we assign them to the beginning or end of the week and month. Here are a few examples to get you started.

Weekly Tactics

  • At the beginning of the week, check that your content is loaded to your blog and/or Youtube and scheduled to be published.
  • Write social media updates for each post to promote them and schedule them in Hootsuite.

Monthly Tactics

  • Create an analytics report for each of your channels.
  • Brainstorm blog topics for next month, and start creating outlines for each post. Set due dates for each one.

Use this list as a starting point to figure out your daily, weekly, and monthly tactics, and take the guesswork out of your nonprofit’s social media!

Smartphone Interview Tips- Part 1

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 2.51.18 PMWith smartphones, we now have mobile TV studios in our hands. We can interview friends and family, and more importantly for nonprofits, donors, volunteers, clients and more. Personally, I’ve done studio interviews with folks like Olympian Scott Hamilton, author and survivor Elizabeth Smart, business guru Pat Lencioni, and even NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip. I’ve taken some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way and I’m sharing them with you here, with the help of fellow NBBer and nonprofit activist Leah Hayes.

In part 1, we’ll focus on questions like:
-What is the single most important thing to remember when interviewing someone?
-Is too close for comfort just right?
-Where should you look when you’re giving an interview?
-How do you make the interviewee the star?

NEXT, WATCH SHANNON LITTON- SHOULD NON PROFITS FOCUS ON THE HOW OR THE WHY?

3 Smart Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Email List

NBB 3 smart ways email listThere’s no question that email has become the primary communication channel for nonprofits. And if that’s true, each of your marketing efforts should lead back to building your email list.

Here are my favorite ways to quickly and effectively build your email list and the reasons why it’s so important.

Why is Growing Your List Important?

If we don’t know why we are building our email list, there’s zero motivation to do it. There needs to be a strategy in place to see results.

Most people don’t understand the real benefits of an email list. They simply see it as a way to send out a monthly newsletter. A newsletter is one benefit, but here are several other reasons for building a quality email list for your nonprofit.

Keep Donors Up-to-Date

Email provides an inexpensive way to keep donors up-to-date. For example, you can create specific email lists for different types of donors, and send them updates based on what type of news interests them.

Read More

August 15- 5 Fundamentals of Core Financial Clarity

Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 9.51.12 AM What are the most common mistakes nonprofit leaders make with their finances?

If an accountant were to walk into your office to help you sort things out, would you know what to give him or her?

When cash flow is short, should you make your own paycheck the variable?

Brian Moyer, of Moyer Financial Services, will lead a discussion on these and other issues that are so important, but often overlooked, by non profit leaders.

 

How To Free Up Time to Think “Big Picture” for Your Nonprofit

Time managementWhen you work in a nonprofit, you know what it’s like to have a mission that drives you to work harder than you thought possible. It’s incredible what the power of a clear, compelling mission can do.

But it can also be dangerous if you don’t take time to step back and look at the bigger picture.

When was the last time you truly stepped away from your day to day tasks and took time to think about your nonprofit’s big picture? Have you made sure you are headed down the right path?

Proactive vs. Reactive Tasks

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
-Greg McKeown

It’s easy to do one ‘big picture’ planning session. But doing it consistently is much more difficult.  To think about the big picture consistently, take a step back and look at your day.

Do you know how much of your day is run by you and how much of it is run by others? If more than 50% is reacting to others, it doesn’t matter if you’re the boss, because other people are controlling your day.

This week, take time to record how much time you spend responding to others requests. No matter how important the request is, it’s still reactive time. This includes answering phone calls and emails, people stopping by unexpectedly, requests for help etc. Basically, anything that you didn’t plan for.

Here’s why it’s important: Taking time to think big isn’t just a problem of finding the time. It’s a priority shift.

You will never ‘have’ the time to grow your non-profit if you are always putting other people’s needs -no matter how urgent- ahead of your organization.

A Practical Approach to Planning Your Time

Before you can choose a strategy, you need to believe you can do it, and make it a priority. Planning your time starts with your mindset, before ever choosing the way to go about it.

My advice is to start small –  maybe just 15 or 30 minutes a day or a week. Decide on a time right now. Schedule that in your calendar, and guard it with your life! I like to schedule time at the beginning of the day because I know having that clarity will energize me the rest of the day.

Another helpful thing to do is keep a journal of your thoughts so you know exactly where you left off. But no matter how you go about it, if you don’t schedule the time, it won’t happen. And if you don’t make it a priority, something else will take its place.

Set Yourself Up for Success

It’s tempting to check your email or phone during your 30 minute “thinking big sessions”. But that first buzz or notification could derail all the progress you’ve made so far. Don’t let it!

Instead, do yourself a favor. Turn off your phone and put it in the other room. Turn off your wifi or better yet, close your computer and stick to good ol’ pen and paper to organize your thoughts.

Then you can transfer them onto the computer, if needed.

If you aren’t comfortable with disappearing for 30 minutes during the day, tell the most important people what you’re doing. Let them know that you’ll be doing this every week, at this time, and ask them to help you by making sure you aren’t interrupted.

Take the Challenge

Try taking 30 minutes for yourself just twice this week, to think big picture. Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments!

Should You Consider Arbitration?

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 5.31.52 PMIn a perfect world, executive directors and boards would always be on the same page, but serious differences can arise, and sometimes the best way to find reconciliation is through third-party mediation.  A breakdown in communication and trust can lead to feelings of desperation, frustration and helplessness. “Score-keeping” is not healthy in any relationship. At that point, or sooner, someone neutral needs to go in and help both sides focus on the future.

Through mediation, the board/board chair and an executive director can agree to set new rules, new clear expectations and discuss what they need from each other to be successful and ultimately set the terms for mutual benefit.  It’s partially a Personal Improvement Plan and partially strategic planning.  The goal is to strengthen the organization– it isn’t personal.

The most delicate relationship a CEO or Executive Director has is the one with his board.  The board is responsible for ensuring sustainability for the organization.  The challenging part is with each change in board leadership, there is a shift in how the organization runs.  The staff must adjust.  The part no one wants to talk about is this- if the personalities clash, the board is ultimately responsible for making the decisions.  This relationship has to be approached the same way you approach a boss in Corporate America.  The board is the boss……… it’s part of the ego-check.  It can be hard for staff to admit because we are in it everyday, but this is the current structure of nonprofit organizations.    Mediation may be the last option, but we must always remember it is an option.

– Beth Torres is the President/CEO of Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee, and former Junior Achievement VP and Reebok Marketing Manager.  She can be followed on twitter @_beth_torres

Free Tool to Improve Your Donation Process

Your nonprofit organization’s website is one of the best fundraising destinations for testing: you can easily change graphics, colors, messaging, and more in an effort to figure out what motivates your donor to give. A key to understanding your donor is to have the right data and information to take action, for example, if you have three calls to action on your website to make a donation, which one is being clicked on most frequently? Does your navigation make sense? Does anyone really use your hero banner at the top?

There are a number of ways to figure out what donors are doing, but many are technically or highly involved. One free tool to see how your donors are interacting with your site is ClickTale. ClickTale records 3,000 interactions with your site each month on the company’s free plan. The tool let’s you see heat maps, watch videos of actual users interacting, and see how far people scroll down your page. Read More

blogging-frequency
0

How Often Should You Update Your Nonprofit’s Blog?

If you ask five people the question, how often should I post my blog, you will undoubtedly get five different answers.

In this post, I don’t want to give you another answer, I want to give you a framework for figuring out how often your nonprofit should blog once and for all.

But first,  let’s look at the question “how often should I blog” a different way. In order to figure this out we need to what know the goal of your blog is.

Is it to attract new donors?

Is it to keep your audience up to date?

Is it to grow your email list?

Or all of the above?

First, you MUST know what you are trying to accomplish through your blog. The next step is asking two simple questions: Who am I trying to reach? And what can I realistically make time for? Read More

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.