When it comes to achieving meaningful impact with our nonprofits, there are two things you need- a plan to do it, and the ability to get it done.
Your plan only provides you with a roadmap, and just like any roadmap, it won’t get you anywhere until you start moving. Implementation is the process that turns these strategies into actions to accomplish your objectives and move your organization forward down the map.
This article will make sure you know how to put your plan into action in a dynamic way that can adapt to ongoing changes.
Implementing your plan involves several moving parts, and it can sometimes feel like these parts of your implementation need another plan of its own.
You don’t always need to go this far, though- you just have to make sure that the plans you produce are flexible enough to accommodate your organization’s different processes.
Effective implementation works with five main components: fundraising, communication, staff operations, strategic outreach, and honest evaluation.
Let’s break down these strategies in more detail.
Part 1: Successful Fundraising
Fundraising is a core part of any non-profit, because it’s how you get fuel for your operations to move forward. There are many ways to ensure success in a fundraising campaign.
A successful fundraising plan involves sharing a transparent, straightforward course of action over a set period.
Make sure to set specific goals. You need to identify what funds are required to keep the organization operating. Be precise when it comes to showing how you plan to use your funds- that will be important to potential donors.
Ensure that your goals align with your mission. Dissect your mission statement and goals and align the two. Your donors need to know that your success will help make an impact in the cause that you’re fighting for.
For ideal results, make sure to maximize all possible fundraising techniques. You can look into crowdfunding campaigns, face-to-face asking, phone calls, e-mail campaigns, fundraising events, and hosting presentations.
Once your fundraising is successful, you will have the resources you need to put things into action for your organization.
Part 2: Fast, Clear Communication
Your non-profit’s communication strategy helps you reach out to the organization’s stakeholders (donors, media, beneficiaries, or whomever else) through multiple channels.
Build your communication strategy by knowing what your stakeholders want, defining your message in terms that resonate with them, tailoring your data, and choosing the right avenues to communicate.
Social media platforms work great to get your message out there and keep in touch with stakeholders and other important people, especially when done together (such as with Hootsuite). For any organization, the key to communication is to take a multi-platformed approach.
It’s not just about external communication. Internal communication with stakeholders and organization members will help you build more trust and get better results from your dealings with all parties involved.
Part 3: Effective Staff Operations
Your people are your greatest resource. For non-profit organizations, finding the right people with the right skills and putting them in the right position is the key to achieving your larger mission. In addition to that, you need to make sure everyone stays focused and on-task, without any micromanaging.
How do you do this operational strategizing and staff management in a non-profit?
Workforce planning is an essential step. If your non-profit is just getting off the ground, use the planning process to clarify your staff structure, and group jobs and duties together. If your non-profit is already established, begin the planning process by conducting a job analysis to determine your capabilities, and discover what needs are unfilled.
Second, it’s critical to focus on talent development. It’s vital to focus more on expanding your team’s skill set. Finding, recruiting, and training new staff is much more costly and time-consuming than improving existing staff’s capabilities. This is a universal rule for business, but it’s especially important for non-profits who need to work on a lower budget, and ‘do more with less’.
Another key to efficient staffing is employee engagement. As Peter Drucker said, an organization must make sure that “its mission, its values and its objectives are real and meaningful to people rather than just public relations and rhetoric.” Show your team how their day-to-day work makes a real difference. This will keep morale high, and a happy team is a productive team!
Once you have the right people with you, having them operate and handle their day-to-day activities is crucial. Make sure that you have a detailed description of your operational procedures so everyone is clear on what work needs to be done every day.
By keeping your team focused, organized, and happy, you will get much better results from your operations.
Part 4: Strategic Outreach
By integrating community outreach into your strategies, you are likely to see much better engagement. There are many ways you can accomplish your outreach goals.
You can better engage with your community by encouraging conversations amongst your stakeholders.
You can also participate in local events to show solidarity with your local community and establish a reputation. In fact, you can even host events of your own to put your message out, make waves in your community, and build goodwill with the public.
By partnering with local communities, you can find new opportunities to get funding and support.
Another option is to target leaders and influencers and show them your organization’s mission. By partnering with them, you can create mutually beneficial opportunities. You will benefit by getting more publicity for your organization through their endorsement. They will benefit from this by being connected to the noble purpose of your non-profit.
With effective outreach can get the word out, and establish a reputation that makes it easier to get more funding. Just remember that there’s no need to be limited to one strategy- nonprofits can implement many different strategies to do more outreach.
Part 5: Evaluation
Non-profit organizations largely fail when it comes to evaluating their progress and that of their staff. Too often, organzizations either give themselves a “pass” due to things they could not control, pieces that were too big for them to be expected to accomplish, and other “not my problem” aspects of reality. Most of the time, however, those hurdles are connected to the systems they are trying to change!
The other key issue comes in evaluating staff. If the board has a great working relationship with the staff, it may be difficult to hold accountability lines. Other times, the board may seek to blame staff for shortcomings.
Overcoming both of these issues requires intentionally creating a culture of collaboration. It requires leadership to dispense with the ‘shame and blame’ approach when things go wrong, and focus on what is learned and what can be done differently – strategically for the board, operationally for the staff.
It also means looking at those big, insurmountable obstacles and developing strategies to overcome them. If something is too big for an organization to deal with, but central to accomplishing its mission, that means it needs to develop strategic partnerships, stakeholder engagement strategies, and other leverable assets to overcome them. Too often we pass on these strategies instead of overcoming them.
Evaluate – honestly, clearly, and measurably – then take action. Without shaming and blaming and without making excuses for shortcomings. Find out what strategic and operational adjustments need to be made. Then make it happen.
A lot of non-profit organizations breeze through the planning process and formulate excellent and promising strategies. And yet, they fail to achieve their ultimate goals.
In such cases, it’s often due to poor implementation. When the rubber meets the road, even the world’s best plan falls apart when not executed with competent implementation.
By taking these steps to improve your implementation, you can be confident that your plans work effectively and that your organization makes a real impact.