The end of one year and the start of another is always a good time to reflect on what’s important, and what’s not. Sam Davidson has a new book out that will help you do this, while also making you laugh. It’s called 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need (Amazon). I especially loved the sections on “stuff from SkyMall” and “anything belonging to an ex.”
If you don’t know Sam, he is a writer, entrepreneur, and dreamer who believes that the world needs more passionate people. He co-founded Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and young daughter. Sam is also frequently asked to talk with nonprofits about connecting with Generation Y (he’s done a webinar or two for us). This Gen Xer thinks he’s pretty savvy and wise for his age, and this book proves it.
Sam was kind enough to put a twist on the book title by providing three things that nonprofits don’t need.
A Guest Post by Sam Davidson
Nonprofits are sometimes led to believe that more is better. Certainly, more volunteers, more donors, and more clients served are generally good things. But, when does “more” go too far and become too much? What are nonprofits clamoring to get that they can actually do without?
Here are three things that nonprofits don’t need. Eliminate these items in 2011 and allow yourself to better focus on the work at hand and further your organization’s mission:
1) Bad Advice
Nonprofits, like any organization, can become insular after a while. As such, you need an outside opinion on what you do. Everything from strategic planning to marketing to staff development should be evaluated from time to time by the right person. Don’t fall victim to hiring your board chair’s out-of-work son as a favor (unless he’s got the credentials to give you what you need). And don’t give in to the temptation to rely on the cheapest service provider for any given project. Do your research. See who’s at the top of their game and find out from other organizations how great this consultant is (or isn’t). A few hours researching will be well worth it and you’ll get no bad advice in 2011.
Rest assured, Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter are not gimmicks. But using them can be. If 2011 is the year you finally fully embrace all of the new media opportunities in front of you, do so strategically. Using any communications tool haphazardly is a bad idea to begin with. It pays (literally) to be deliberate with how, when, and what you tweet. You’ll have more success if you blog consistently and with a clear purpose. Likewise, if you’re trying to create buzz, contests and promotions can work, but only for a time. Make sure that any stunts or PR events have a strategic tie in to your mission. Anyone can create a diversion; successful organizations create connections with donors, volunteers, staff, and clients. Be intentional in all of your 2011 communications.
Collaboration continues to pay off for those nonprofits that work with other nonprofits. Whether it’s coming together to pool and share resources or officially merging to better attack a societal problem, partnerships should continue to rise in 2011. Before embarking on an ambitious project – whether it’s a 5k or a capital campaign – see who you can join forces with. Leverage your community’s desire to do good by offering a unique opportunity to help more than just your nonprofit. Teaming up will allow you to save money and to reap better financial rewards. You can’t be territorial, of course, but you may find you won’t need to be. Getting creative with collaboration in the sector and with private businesses could raise your profile and your bottom line.
What else do nonprofits not need? What stood in your way as an organization in 2010 that you want to get rid of in 2011? Share your story in the comments below.