Resourcefulness, creativity can help further your nonprofit's mission


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If there’s one lesson that nonprofit organizations have learned in recent years, it’s that resources are finite and must be allocated prudently. How not-for-profits must quickly adapt to find new and creative ways to respond. See more in our State of not-for-profit industry 2014:

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Resourcefulness, creativity can help further your nonprofit's mission

  1. 1. Invest in key strategic markets With growing emphasis on the efficient use of resources, not- for-profit organizations are seeking to expand their impact and grow revenue by deploying resources toward “highest and best use” areas. Some are venturing into new territories to increase engagement with constituents, prospective donors and local communities. Beyond simply replicating existing operational models in new geographies, these not-for-profits are performing sophisticated market analyses to determine which territories maintain the potential to deliver long-term strategic value. One organization expanding beyond its traditional footprint is Minneapolis-based Be The Match, a not-for-profit that operates the world’s largest and most diverse marrow registry. The organization recently entered three new cities, anticipating greater access and proximity to potential donors in those locations, and utilizing walk-run events to build awareness and raise funds. Furthermore, since the core mission relies on volunteers — those who join the registry and are willing to donate either bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells — recruitment of registry participants is a key objective. In addition to increasing the number of people on the registry, Be The Match is keenly focused on broadening the level of ethnic diversity of registered individuals to better serve underrepresented populations. Expansion enables the organization to get closer to populations demographically aligned with these recruitment objectives. Resourcefulness, creativity can help further your mission 1 Joseph Mulligan, Business Advisory Services Manager, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices Adam Day, Business Advisory Services Senior Consultant, Not-for-Profit and Higher Education Practices If there’s one lesson that not-for-profit organizations have learned in recent years, it’s that resources are finite and must be allocated prudently. In its 2014 annual survey, the Nonprofit Finance Fund examined the financial state of more than 5,000 not-for-profit organizations. The survey found that the vast majority (80%) of not-for-profits are experiencing increased need, but a record 56% of organizations were unable to meet that demand in 20131 . In this uncertain operating climate, organizations are concerned not only with generating additional revenue, but also with how to deploy limited resources to further the mission and ensure long-term sustainability. They are also deciding how to satisfy increased constituent expectations for program growth and service delivery. Not-for-profits must quickly adapt to find new and creative ways to respond. 1 McCambridge, Ruth. “Nonprofit Finance Fund Survey Points to Tough Road Ahead,” Nonprofit Quarterly, April 7, 2014. See finance-fund-survey-shows-troublesome-landscape.html for more details.
  2. 2. Resourcefulness, creativity can help further your mission 2 Creatively collaborate with for-profit partners A twist on the traditional relationship between donors and not-for-profit organizations is the increasing popularity of providing support in nonmonetary ways. For-profit corporations and their leaders are increasingly aware of their social responsibility and are seeking to align philanthropic pursuits with their core business, to give back beyond funding, and to establish employee community service programs. While not-for-profits stand to greatly benefit from this heightened enthusiasm, it’s up to not-for-profit leaders to help identify how these partnerships should be designed and to cultivate relationships with strong win-win potential. In the end, such outcomes could far outweigh those that could otherwise be generated by an unrestricted cash gift. An example is Boeing’s collaboration with Iraqi Airways and Another Joy Foundation, a Las Vegas-based not-for-profit whose mission is to deliver joy, hope and humanitarian aid to children and families in need. When Boeing delivers a new plane to Baghdad-based Iraqi Airways, it transports a shipment of toys from the not-for-profit to orphaned children in Iraq2 . With virtually no cost to the for-profit partner, corporate social responsibility is achieved and the foundation’s cash resources are preserved for other priorities. The power of creativity is also evident in Accion U.S. Network’s collaboration with The Boston Beer Company. Accion, a not-for-profit small business lending and micro-lending network, has partnered with the owner of the Samuel Adams brand as part of its Brewing the American Dream program3 . In addition to providing funding, The Boston Beer Company asks its employees to provide coaching and industry advice to entrepreneurial food, beverage and brewing industries within Accion’s network. This expertise not only provides entrepreneurs a better chance of succeeding, but also enables The Boston Beer Company to enhance employee commitment and engagement while demonstrating strong corporate citizenship. 2 PR Newswire. “Boeing, Iraqi Airways Partner with Non-Profit Organization to Bring Smiles to Children in Iraq,” MarketWatch Inc., March 25, 2014. See airways-partner-with-non-profit-organization-to-bring-smiles-to-children-in-iraq-2014-03-25?reflink=MW_news_stmp for more details. 3 See for more details.
  3. 3. 3 Quantify and clarify productivity, outcomes and social impact Knowing exactly how donated funds are utilized is the cause for increasing demands by institutional and individual donors for greater transparency and accountability. To demonstrate the true value of their programs and services, many not-for- profits are going beyond the traditional direct measures of impact, which have included simply quantifying the number of individuals served or providing an example of what donation dollars can buy. Instead, they are highlighting outcomes that may not be immediately obvious, making a proactive effort to describe their societal contributions to ensure that donors understand how the organization operates and are motivated to continue giving. For example, in its periodic report, Catholic Impact4 , the Archdiocese of Washington describes its key contributions in the areas of education, social services and health care, such as how many children it educates in its schools and how many low-income patients are treated at its health care facilities. It also quantifies how these services generate direct financial savings to taxpayers and local communities. The report sheds light on programmatic details that may not align with donors’ and society’s preconceived notions, such as the fact that an estimated 85% of the individuals receiving social services provided by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Charities are not Catholic. Through this effort to explain outcomes and, where necessary, to dispel misconceptions, the archdiocese is not only communicating a clear value proposition and demonstrating accountability, but also helping to manage public perception and broaden support. Plan proactively for continued mission success Today’s not-for-profit leaders must employ strategic and creative approaches in response to financial realities and growing demands for services. In most cases, it is no longer enough to build on past success. Rather, leaders need to examine and be prepared to alter their operating models even if they are currently working well. While change can be daunting for an industry that is already resource-constrained, it can also bring exciting new opportunities to expand impact and maximize value creation. As mission-driven organizations become more willing to change outmoded industry practices, they will be better equipped to increase the scope and scale of their services. 4 See for more details. Resourcefulness, creativity can help further your mission