Home > The Gardner Report > Heart of Change, Wealth Ratings, Strategic Calendar and NPO Collaboration

We like being at the heart of change…
People frequently ask, “Why are you (Paul and Walt) always so positive, energetic and excited?” Simply, we are doing exactly what we want and like to do. We are at the heart of change. We are helping NPOs meet the challenges of today’s economy.

We are blessed to help stimulate, mentor or teach others. We work with people who are builders. We are able to put our combined 60 years of fundraising experience together to help NPO leaders achieve their mission and their vision. We are right in the thick of it helping NPOs put together the head and the heart of their organization to achieve success. We are energized daily when we find change happening each day in both small and large ways. Daily we witness progress and success in our clients.

Thank you to our clients who share their challenges with us and allow us to live a very fulfilling and rewarding professional life!

Thoughts about wealth ratings…

Wealth rating to fundraisers is the equivalent of a bass finder to professional fishermen. You may be fishing in a large lake, but the technology helps you focus on the best place to fish because you know all about the fish that are there just below your boat. Wealth rating enables fundraisers to move ahead with confidence and clarity.

Working with our clients G&A has learned three significant values from an investment in wealth rating:

1. The information from the wealth rating screening gives you valuable details on capacity, affinity and propensity that you can add to you donor database. That information enables you to frame informed and fitting strategy to match your prospect’s interests and ability.

2. Being more familiar with your prospect enhances your capacity and capability during the cultivation process. You are more aware, confident and tuned-in.

3. You can discard rumors and anecdotal stories and focus on hard, objective facts.

The importance of a strategic calendar…
Some NPO professionals confuse tactical planning with strategic planning. Tactical or functional is the daily implementation list to ensure you do everything you planned to reach your strategic or visionary goal. It is the difference between a pre-flight check list and a flight plan.
G&A recommends that their client NPOs develop a strategic calendar and then put it on the wall. We encourage you to put it on the wall in a visible place as a daily reminder of what is important.

Plan your calendar to achieve your strategic goals. A strategic calendar takes careful coordination and discussion to achieve. Consider five steps in creating your calendar:

1. Prioritize critical program times for consistency. Assess their placement on the calendar. Space out your programs for consistency and good management. Try to have at least one major program each quarter.

2. Define communications branding and key message times. Ensure that you have a branded and consistent communications message that supports your programs and fundraising.

3. Select critical fundraising points. Plan your fundraising to follow your communications. Determine times of critical need for your NPO. Pick time slots that allow your NPO to be out in front in making your ask. Assess the competition cycle for fundraising – annual, event and end-of-year.

4. Assess staff and volunteer loads. Anticipate staff and volunteer demands as an integral part of your calendar. Build them into your calendar for recruitment, orientation and recognition.

5. Plan times for database and technology management. Set aside times each quarter to update technology, database, software and equipment.

Trending towards NPO collaboration…
G&A is a proponent of greater collaboration among NPO’s, particularly in the same locale. We do not have all the answers to what our industry is going to look like as we come out of this recession. We have been saying to our clients that the future cannot be business as usual.

In a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy Tax Watch report, the IRS addressed the fact that the NPO industry has slowed its rate of growth during the current recessionary period. New filings for new NPO’s have slowed. Existing, small, struggling NPO’s are not succeeding. According to the report, the latter group may shrink even more dramatically given the new reporting requirements imposed by the IRS. The number of new groups seeking NPO status was down 30% in 2010. While the economy is a presumed impact, the new procedure the IRS is requiring to gain status is surely another reason for the declining numbers.

A colleague in Michigan, Katie Laverty, president for the Society for Nonprofit Organizations, thinks in a similar vein as G&A. Katie said, “We have really been somewhat discouraging of people starting a nonprofit if they haven’t done the research, (G&A calls it “due diligence”), to see if there are others that are providing that [same] or similar service.”

G&A, along with Katie and others recognize the challenge in finding the right good board members of affluence and influence to carry the organizations’ banner, other good volunteers, and the organizations’ capacity to raise money needed to run a really successful organization.
Laura Otten of the Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University adds her concern by raising the question, “Do we really need all these independent organizations?”

So, once again, G&A encourages you to look introspectively. Are you really making an impactful difference? Could you be more effective if you addressed the efficiency issue and chose to partner or be more collaborative with “like-kind” organizations in your community or region? Think on these things. Perhaps G&A can help you.