Tracking Data and Activities Reflects Outdated Management Practices
Nonprofits, like most for-profit businesses, are stuck in a 1990’s “management” mindset. Our most precious resource, our people – volunteers, staff, board members, donors, are “managed” via silo-ed digital tools that take attendance, record hours, store training certificates, survey opinions, park documents and otherwise seek to collect and mine data about people-related activities.
Management roles and responsibilities are too often predicated on the notion that our only priorities are record keeping, compliance monitoring and functional information sharing. Inspiration, commitment, excitement, recognition, encouragement, passion, devotion, connection–these elements of human motivation and social impact are often overlooked as we strive for ever more data collection and analysis.
Don’t misunderstand me: ensuring the successful completion of day-to-day operational, financial and legal imperatives related to nonprofit staff, volunteer, donor and board roles are critical to good governance. We need to know how many hours our staff members worked in order to know what to pay them. We need to follow legal guidelines in processing HR complaints. We must provide training to volunteers to ensure their competency. Board members must understand and comply with their fiduciary responsibilities. Nonetheless, providing the backbone of your operational requirements does not enthusiastic supporters make. We need to go to the next level, engagement, in order to attract, retain and grow our nonprofit people and financial resources. Dinosaur-age management alone won’t elevate our nonprofit organization or our mission delivery to new and greater heights: passionate engagement will.
How We Know that Managing Alone Isn’t Working
Here’s the big news. All the people you are herding and chasing really, really care about your mission (at least initially). The problem: study after study indicates that, after the initial excitement, a feeling of lack of engagement is why too many of your key supporters and staff walk away each year. You are going to lose 33% of your trained volunteers, over 50% of your major donors and 30% of your board members in 2020 unless you stop managing them and start engaging them. Now.
Today, You Are Working Harder, Not Smarter, to Stay Connected With Your Supporters
The many tools we use to access, and record management-related supporter information are a mirror of our out-of-date management-only mindset. Think about how we communicate with our most valued and precious people resources. How many of the hundreds of emails you send to board members or donors ever make it out of a long list of unread Inbox “clutter?” The best and latest studies say about 37%. How many attachments do you send that are opened? The most recent research tells us only about 4%. How many surveys do your donors and volunteers complete (15%), how many trainings do they attend (10%), how many galas do they show up for in their tux, with wallets open (25-30%)? Did you know that your staff turnover is twice that of for-profit companies, costing your nonprofit time and money in replacing and re-training?
There is no arguing with these numbers. The sad truth is, you are working very hard, but possibly not very smart, failing to create long-term commitment and engagement in most of today’s supporters, thus ensuring they won’t be with you tomorrow.
How Do You Engage Key Supporters? The Nonprofit Engagement Revolution
The lifeblood of your nonprofit organization want meaningful change
The Nonprofit Engagement Revolution is here because the core supporters of our nonprofits and charities — donors, board members, staff and volunteers — are demanding change. The time has come for the Nonprofit Engagement Revolution. Nonprofit leaders are learning that deeper supporter engagement results in more time volunteered, more funds donated and a stronger commitment to the mission. Engaging both the heads and hearts of our supporters equals nonprofit financial sustainability and growth in people resources. Ultimately, this all creates a more powerful momentum toward social change.
New Philanthropy = the Nonprofit Engagement Revolution
The nonprofit world is changing as supporters adopt a “new philanthropy” approach to social good. "New philanthropy is the philanthropy of experiment, philanthropy that introduces the ‘know-how’ of business and the best practices of management, marketing and strategic planning into the nonprofit arena. New donors and volunteers see their philanthropy as a social investment rather than charity; they are results-oriented, they like to take a hands-on approach to their giving and in general, want to apply their business skills to the charities they support.”
This new approach makes sense, but nonprofit leaders are often so busy “chasing” major donors, volunteers and board members, for instance, that they are not always listening to what their supporters are saying. Ian McLintock, Founder of The Charity Excellence Framework says, “I’m tired of being talked at by the nonprofits I serve and support; I have knowledge, skills and ideas I’d like to share. I’m more than a wallet or a signature. I want to understand and be part of mission success.”
MissionBox CEO Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk says, "One of the biggest challenges nonprofits face today is to become dramatically more engaged with all constituents, while staying mission-focused and making a real social impact. Constituent engagement is the critical component to nonprofit financial sustainability and overall survival. Our hundreds of thousands of MissionBox nonprofit leadership readers have confirmed that constituent engagement is a priority and they are ready to join the Engagement Revolution!"
Engagement can equal funding
Highly-engaged board members and volunteers are your best peer-to-peer fundraisers. They know your charity and they likely have a wide network of high net-worth friends, businesses and co-workers. Failure to keep volunteers informed and committed means you lose one of your best fundraising resources for major donations.
Nonprofit Engagement: A better approach to communication
A one-size-fits-all approach to communication does not allow for a variety of different messaging tailored to specific audiences. For example, major donors typically desire more information about your nonprofit; if you are spending all your time using multiple tools to send surveys, emails, and invitations, you probably don’t have the time to create different messages for that specific group of constituents.
It is vital to each nonprofit’s future to get the constituent engagement process right by providing easy access to constituent communications, connection and collaboration.
What’s The Engagement Answer For Your Nonprofit?
MissionBox has launched a complete communication, connection and collaboration platform: MissionBox Engagement Communities, a one-stop solution that is built by nonprofit experts and designed exclusively for nonprofits. MissionBox Engagement Communities replicates and/or enhances all tools offered by more expensive communication platforms and costs a small fraction of usual monthly fees, with unlimited users and cloud storage.
Engagement Communities acts as one secure place for volunteers, major donors, board members, staff and collaborators to learn about your nonprofit’s work, impact and events, and access other important communications. Engagement Communities can replace up to 13 different common communication and collaboration tools, as well as provide easy-to-search document storage and retrieval. The administrator of any Community designs the groups that reflect their constituent cohorts and then invites all major donors, funders, volunteers, staff and other stakeholders to their branded, one-stop home that provides the all the right information, on a private, need-to-know basis.
Engagement Communities also provides a deeper level of analytics, so you'll know who has read, approved or responded to requests. Each nonprofit community has livestream video creation and storage, easily accessible for those who missed the original event. Video trainings, newsletters, impact reports, annual reports, budgets, invitations, video, education, shared documents and surveys all live in each nonprofit’s community, behind a password-protected wall for 100% guaranteed data privacy. Unlike "free" platforms such as Facebook Work Groups, MissionBox Communities is GDPR-compliant and MissionBox warrants to never sell or share your data.
Plan a transition from the email bombardment approach you are likely using today and consider looking at MissionBox Engagement Communities, offering a highly effective way to keep your donors, volunteers and collaborators better informed and engaged.