pexels-photo-774095Does your NFP have big dreams and lofty goals, but, somehow, despite everyone’s best intentions and efforts, keeps missing the mark? Perhaps the direction and intent of your organisation have changed entirely since it began and maybe it’s time to update or rebrand your image? Maybe you never clearly defined your nonprofit’s purpose in the beginning, and no one really understands why your cause is so important? Regardless of the reason why your organisation seems to be slowly drifting, the following strategies will help you and your NFP get back on course!

Start with the Why – Define it, Embrace it, Mean it!

Think about the reasons why your nonprofit was founded. What is it that you hope to achieve? What social ill or problem are you trying to solve? Highly effective organisations have a clear understanding of their mission. They know why they exist and what they are fighting for. Create a tagline or motto that gets to the heart of what it is that you are doing, and why, and make it your nonprofit’s rally point and battle cry!

Define What You Stand for – Create and Communicate Your Culture!

Organisational culture is simply the rules, whether they are written, spoken or unspoken but assumed, that define how we treat ourselves and others as we operate. Leadership is always responsible for creating, building and communicating culture.

To build a strong culture, start with your values. What do you stand for? What is important and has meaning? Where do you draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not? One thing that most successful organisations have in common is that their leaders do more than pay “lip service” to these standards. They actually “walk the walk.”

Are you walking the walk? Do you treat your team members with respect? Are you honest with them? Transparent about your NFP’s actions? Do you ask for suggestions, ideas and other forms of feedback? Do you offer praise and direction? Have you set clear expectations, defined goals, and measured results? Do you encourage open communication, and, do you invest in the training and development of your people? If you can’t answer yes to each of these questions, it’s time to be serious with yourself about the example that you are setting for your team. If your culture is weak, or otherwise not clearly defined, it should come as little surprise if you are honest with yourself.

Set Clear Expectations

One reason why so many nonprofits seem to get so off track shortly after they are founded is that no one seems to know what they should be doing, why they are doing it, or what anyone else is supposed to be doing. Regardless of someone’s position with your organisation, make sure that you’ve set the right expectations.

Provide each person with a list of their duties and responsibilities and communicate how these tasks contribute to your NFP’s overall mission. Set goals, and benchmarks, and periodically measure and review their progress so that your people know how they are doing, and, if there are any areas they should focus on to improve their performance. Provide orientation, along with periodic training and other development activities to strengthen your team’s skills and capabilities. Offer recognition and incentives to keep morale and performance high. Focus on building your team up and encouraging cooperation and trust so that your organisation can reap the benefits of collaboration and creativity that thrive in an atmosphere of camaraderie and team spirit!

Be Brave!

Once you know why you exist, and what you stand for and mean in the lives of others, it’s time to start setting goals and making plans. How will your organisation make a difference in your community? What does impact look like, and, how will you measure your progress?

While you certainly need to be realistic in your budgets and other projections, don’t be afraid to dream big and set some audacious goals! Create an outline of the services and programs that you intend to implement in both the short and long term.

Keep the focus on your mission, and clearly communicate how each program helps your NFP to “move the ball” forward.  Think about those who will benefit from your work, and your other supporters and stakeholders. Is there enough support in your community to achieve your goals? What steps can your NFP take to increase support?

Build and Communicate a Strong Brand Image

Take a close look at your nonprofit’s message, whether it’s on your website, social media channels or your emails. Are all your messages on point and aligned with your mission and values?

When you craft a great message, are you sure it’s reaching your target audience? It’s hard to build a strong brand image if your messages aren’t getting through! Segment your supporters and customise your messages so that you are always giving them the amount of contact that they want and need.

Have a Backup Plan and Create a Deep Pool

It’s hard enough to run your NFP when things are going well. When something unexpected happens, such as losing a major source of funding, many organisations lose their way.

Resilient organisations plan for the unexpected. Create backup plans that will help you address and mitigate the risks of loss that all organisations potentially face. Have a plan for succession, and develop a process that will help you locate, hire, train and develop talented people so that you always have several potential candidates from within your organisation that can be promoted and quickly brought up to speed. Always be on the lookout for ways to diversify your sources of funding and use some of your excess to create a “rainy day” fund to help your NFP cover unexpected shortfalls.

While it would be impossible to adequately prepare for every potential hazard and upset that could befall your nonprofit, creating a few backup plans can help your NFP maintain its focus during hard times.