June 25, 2018

How nonprofits can thrive during challenging times

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

ACN Annual Meeting 2018

On June 1st, the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits (ACN) held their annual meeting in Chicago. This year’s event featured networking, breakout discussions on specific topics and a panel on consultants discussing how they are helping nonprofits grow and thrive.

The panel was moderated by Chicago broadcasting legend and philanthropist, Merri Dee, and included panelists Clara L. Carrier 
of Breaking Through Consulting, LLC, Gregg Mellinger 
of USI Insurance Services, Joyce Golbus Poll of
 J.G. Poll & Associates (and former ACN Board President) and Amy Schiffman of 
Giving Tree Associates.

How nonprofits can thrive during these challenging times

1. Funding—and What is Working Now

A hybrid/diverse approach is best: corporate, foundations, individual giving. Think about different ways to bring in funds. Call on board members and make them accountable. Be realistic about who wants to fund you, make sure they care about what you do. [Amy]

Connect with people, be specific about what you need (i.e. volunteers, goods, etc.) [Clara]

2. Making Use of a Documented Fundraising Strategy

Break down what to do: why do you to raise money and how will you get there? It functions as an insurance policy against desperately coming up with ideas throughout the year. Determining your strategy is the first step. [Amy]

3. Utilizing a Workflow Analysis

Do what you can to save the organization money. How can we maximize efficiency? Create an effective workflow: it makes for a happy customer and staff morale increases. See who’s doing what and determine how it can be done better. Use resources such as software and consultants, or form teams. [Joyce

4. Reprioritizing Spending

Insurance is your second biggest line item (after payroll); create a proactive, documented multiplayer strategy tied to your budget, so you are not scrambling at the last minute. Follow the money: where is the money going? People will accept lower pay if there are benefits that are suitable to them. Follow the formula: PEOPLE > PREMIUM > PURPOSE. [Gregg]

5. Hiring Employees or Consultants

Whomever you hire must be passionate about your cause. Get to know millennials or other groups, know what their purpose is and how they can relate to your cause. Ask candidates about failures or what they learned. [Clara]

Look for someone who understands and wants to be a key part of your organization’s future. They should want to become am integral part of your team/purpose. Gregg also spoke about asking for a tour of a prospect’s facility in order to better connect with them—and the prospect commented that no one had ever made that request before. [Gregg]

Look for consultants with a strong track record, success working both with people one-on-one and with the board, and a strong belief in your mission. [Amy]

6. Deciding to Become a Funder

Things to consider: need, who they are in community, and how prepared are they are to ask: do they know their needs? Have they done their research and pre work? [Merri Dee]

It was an inspiring, hopeful discussion and it made me feel good about being a creative partner with several local nonprofits here in Chicago. Together, we can do great things!

I’ve joined the ACN Board

I’m also thrilled to share that after being a member for two years (and part of the Marketing Committee), I’ve been invited to join the ACN Board of Directors as VP, Marketing and Communications. I’m excited to be a part of this growing community of nonprofit consultants in Chicago. And stay tuned to hear more about ACN!