Operations

Nonprofit Growth: 8 Strategies to Get Started

Updated September 17, 2018

To thrive and grow, nonprofit organizations need to start with the basics

Nonprofit growth doesn’t happen without thoughtful, intentional effort. Nonprofit leaders should collaborate with their team members to create new fundraising ideas, capture new potential donors, and incorporate ideas for even more future growth in the nonprofit sector.

1. Make your mission as big as it can be.

Consider your nonprofit’s mission. Is there an aspect of your programs, outreach and events that can make a greater social impact? Reaching a little further could set you apart from similar organizations and make your efforts all the more impactful.

Think big. What could your nonprofit do in both the short-term and long-term? Get your executive director and team together to envision a plan for the future of your nonprofit.

2. Transparency builds trust

Start with transparency in your plan for growth. Use software solutions or a clear accounting of where financial resources are being used, measure impact by collecting quantitative data about change over time to support outcomes data openly shared with you constituents

3. Appoint leaders who inspire

Who’s at the helm of your organization? Your mission is only as meaningful as the team you assemble to make it happen. Seek out people who have the experience and perspective that can best connect with those you’re serving in addition to the skill sets you need.

Aim to create a diverse board, where board members become active members of the communities your nonprofit serves and ultimately will build deeper roots through community involvement and will give you a stable foundation for new growth.

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Ideally, your nonprofit board members and executive director will share a common vision for your organization’s mission and direction for growth. A solid nonprofit leadership team should be looking for innovative ways to increase financial sustainability with both new and innovative revenue ideas such as earned income strategies along with tried-and-true tactics such as direct mail and getting the word out about your organization through social media channels such as FaceBook and Twitter.

4. Invest in the best staff

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Nonprofit staff members are just as committed to growing their nonprofit as leadership! Once you’ve hired the best staff members, it’s important to keep them invested in your mission through training, informing them about decision-making from leaders and demonstrating appreciation for their hard work.

5. Get your website right

Your site’s visitors are more likely to scan your page upon arrival, and in the first seconds of landing on your page, they’ll decide if they want to stick around and learn more. A modern and minimalist aesthetic lets imagery take the lead. And what’s more powerful than allowing donors to see the impact of their donations through photos and video?

Be sure to dedicate lots of space on your site to show what you do, not simply telling. Also, the placement of your donation links is a crucial component to their success. Remember to keep your website — and other technology such as fundraising and donor management software solutions — up-to-date with news, fundraising updates, fundraising events and other tidbits that will help potential donors stick around.

6. Don’t shy away from getting social

Social media is an absolute must-have for nonprofit growth. Amplifying your mission will happen more efficiently by using different social media channels. According to Avectra, 47 percent of U.S. citizens learn about causes through social media. That’s not a statistic to sneeze at! Consider dedicating some of your marketing efforts to making social media an active part of making your message heard.

Different social media channels may be a better fit for your nonprofit. Many new and exciting initiatives are being taken by nonprofits through channels such as Instagram, Twitter of course, FaceBook.

7. Mix, mingle and make donors part of an active community

Fundraising events are a fantastic way to get valuable face-time with your donors (and potential donors), so be sure to throw the kind of parties people will want to attend!

Fundraising events run the gamut from local neighborhood raffles to swanky, black-tie galas. Take time to establish partnerships with philanthropic businesses — both local and corporate — that can provide you with the space, swag and buzz you’ll need to kick off an event that’s an instant hit.

8. Celebrate every success — and don’t forget to invite your donors!

As you reach milestones in your plan for growth, be sure to celebrate your successes and achievements. For staff, send out a weekly newsletter of the top three objectives your organization has accomplished encourage mutual recognition of staff that have reached their goals and contributed to further your nonprofit’s mission.

Recognizing and including your donors in your celebration of success is equally important. Are you inviting donors to be a part of the best chapter in your story? How can you bring them in? If you don’t have the budget or opportunity to invite all of your donors to an in-person event, consider sending them personalized update emails that put the value of their donations in the spotlight. Consider having donors participate, either in-person or virtually, at an upcoming organization-wide event.

Donors want to know that their contributions are important. Too often, nonprofits don’t cultivate donor relationships. Your plan for growth depends on also growing your donor network! Don’t ever let a donor give without following up to show them just how impactful their gift really is because, without their support, your story would only be a few pages long!

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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