pexels-photo-272802While fundraising and recruiting are integral to your NFP’s impact, you must be successful in many areas for your organisation to thrive and grow in the long term. There are unfortunately several common practices that can harm your NFP. The following three actions occur all too often in the not-for-profit sector. Each is a leading cause of failure for charities and associations. Avoid these three pitfalls at all costs.

Fail to Address Risk

If you want your NFP to survive, you must control your risk of loss. Procedures to protect and manage your assets can decrease the risk of loss due to theft. Insurance policies can go along way to offset harm when you suffer a “covered” loss, but these measures do little to protect you if your organisation experiences a loss of reputation due to a scandal.

Your reputation affects your potential to succeed at every level. Ignore the risk, and it could become impossible to garner support for your cause. The following strategies can help you to manage this risk.

Enact formal policies that ensure that everyone connected to your organisation will act ethically. These policies should agree with your values and mission statement.

Provide proper training for your board, staff and volunteers. Treat everyone fairly, courteously and with respect, whether it’s your volunteers, your donors, staff, or beneficiaries of your services. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your organisation follows all legal guidelines, requirements and regulations, especially financial ones! Increase transparency about your organisation’s actions, and decision-making processes.

Create fair and above-board processes for recruiting, and evaluating performance. Be fair in your employment practices, including breaks, leave policies, length of work shifts, flexible schedules, and so forth. Make sure that all your people have the training, equipment, and the facilities that they need to perform their best and enjoy their work. Have a formal procedure in place for others to ask questions, report disputes and grievances and resolve conflicts.

While you want to encourage open communication, you should be very careful with your NFP’s messaging. Ensure that all your internal, and external, communications are in alignment with your values and mission and will make a good impression on others when they are read, heard, or viewed.

Neglect Your Donors

Time and again, research shows that donor support often comes down to three things:

1. Feeling a personal connection to a specific cause
2. Feeling that the cause is worthy
3. Feeling that their contribution is appreciated and makes a difference

Organisations that want repeat donations should find ways to meet these three needs, otherwise, you risk your donors becoming disinterested and moving on to another charity.

Increase transparency with your financial reporting to let donors know where their money is going, and, exactly how donations at different levels further your mission. Focus on human interest stories that help donors genuinely understand what is at stake and just how much of a difference in the lives of others that is made by their donations.

Try to connect with your donors on a personal level. Promptly send thank you notes, and personalise your communications as much as possible. Look for ways to establish rapport and build a relationship with individual donors and look for unique ways to show how much you appreciate their support.

Ignore Your Volunteers

Much of the work that is accomplished by nonprofits is typically performed by volunteers. Even if your NFP has some paid positions, volunteering allows your nonprofit to expand their impact. Since volunteers are the lifeblood of your organisation, you need to make every effort for them to enjoy their experience with your NFP.

Treat your volunteers well. Provide precise training and oversight to guide volunteers through the process of learning their assignments and how to perform them well. Offer periodic feedback and performance reviews so that they know how they are doing, and what steps they can take to further their performance.

Encourage socialisation between your volunteers and others connected with your NFP, and make it easy for them to connect with others. Offer special activities and rewards to your volunteers on a periodic basis to make their experience as uplifting, and enjoyable as possible.

When you treat your volunteers with respect and look after their welfare and well-being, they are more likely to respond in a similar manner when they work with others in your organisation and community. They are also more likely to recommend your NFP to others looking for volunteer opportunities and more likely to work as advocates for your cause and organisation.