What Nonprofits Can Do to Improve Their Standing in 2011

By James V. D’Ambrosio

As 2010 comes to a close, I thought it would be helpful to take a step back and put things in perspective. To be sure, 2010 was a difficult year for nonprofits; many felt the sting of the prolonged economic uncertainty gripping the U.S. and countries around the globe. Looking ahead to 2011, there is still a sense of unease. Even top economists — Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Paul Krugman and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, to name a few — can’t be certain when the economy will improve or hiring will pick up. So, in some respects, we are in unchartered economic waters.

But this doesn’t mean nonprofits should stand still. Why not try to make something happen?  Many agencies can benefit from reviewing in-house operations, identifying problems, and making changes to improve their standing. Here are some things to consider: 

♦ Board of Directors: Are people becoming complacent? Is new blood needed? Can development/special event committees suggest creative fund-raising ideas? Would a retreat re-energize the board? Have all members made a financial gift for 2010? Are trustees effectively leveraging their networks to increase support and/or donations? 

♦ Employees: Instead of perfunctory performance evaluations, meet with employees face-to-face to see how they are doing. Are concerns about job security negatively impacting morale? Do staff have the necessary resources to complete their work? Is there something you can do to help them become more productive? Taking the time to support/reassure employees could pay dividends far beyond what’s indicated on the balance sheet.

Review Outside Connections: Would joining a professional group/association improve the bottom line with access to key information and resources? Could a consultant be hired on a project basis to increase fund-raised income? How about tapping into the resources of  The Foundation Center in NYC? Are there industry-related seminars/webinars that can help employees perform their roles more effectively?

This is just a starting point. What else do you think nonprofits can do to improve their standing in this challenging economic climate?  







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