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Are you planning for how you’re going to work extra hard in 2024 to make your nonprofit a success? If you answer yes, we ask you to consider a different, more feasible course of action. We suggest you get to work immediately identifying people who can help you meet your goals so that you bring others into your vision, and don’t spend 2024 flailing while trying to do the impossible.

Unless you are an established, well-funded, well-governed, in-demand, high profile nonprofit, chances are slim that you have the resources you need to grow. Consider the research coming out from Young Black & Giving Back. Here are two of their main points: Black-led and benefiting nonprofits do a lot with a little, with 76.7 percent of the nonprofits surveyed operating on a budget of less than $500,000 a year; nearly one third operate with just $30,000 a year. And, these organizations manage largely with volunteers, with 43.5 percent operating without any paid, full-time employees, and 45.65 percent indicating that they didn’t have any paid, part-time employees.

So, how does a nonprofit make it happen? Over the years we’ve learned that volunteers make it happen. And that has been reinforced over the past few years, more than ever. By “volunteers” we mean people who believe in your vision and who have the time, network, and resources to bring your vision to life. If you find yourself dreaming of the day when you’ll have staff to do all that needs to be done, you will be dreaming for a good time. Remember: those with relationships, skills, and resources are almost always willing to help when asked to assist with a specific project.

We recommend working with volunteers who are willing to “own” a project and advance it on your behalf. That means they chart the course, engage others, and consistently share information with you, and ask questions. These are people you should not micro-manage: they are self-starters who can make things happen. They can help with projects such as advocacy for and engagement with the people at the core of your vision. In terms of fundraising, they can take responsibility for critical areas such as data management; donor stewardship and communication; prospect identification, cultivation, and solicitation; defining donor benefits and opportunities; and defining fundraising priorities and goals.

In terms of building organizational capacity, they can take on projects such as identifying and securing the in-kind services and resources you need; creating a volunteer recruitment and management program; defining job descriptions for staff, recruiting employees, and creating an onboarding process; and developing processes for meeting management and reporting. Board recruitment is a critical function that well-connected people can help you with. In all cases, let your volunteers define their timeline and ask that they regularly share their progress with you.

Remember, it is your responsibility as a nonprofit CEO to make the time to meet with those who are supporting you. If you can’t do that, then don’t ask for help.

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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