Monthly Archives: August 2016

Say YES to a Mission Statement

When you hear “Mission Statement” most automatically think of a corporation or big business and not a non-profit. While it is true that corporations do have mission statements, non-profit organizations need one as well.

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is simply a public proclamation that clarifies your organization’s core purpose. It clearly states the reason your organization exists and why others should support it.  In just a few sentences, it should sum up the essence of your organization.

Why does my Non-Profit Need a Mission Statement?

Ideally, the mission statement should serve as a foundation for your organization’s functional strategy. Its moral compass, if you will. It should be the driving force behind all you do, the decisions you make and ultimately, the impact in which you have on your cause.

In addition to defining your purpose, the mission statement it can be incorporated into your marketing strategy and used in all public relations communication. Sharing the statement with the general public can not only yield you new donors, but also supporters, volunteers and even potential board members.

Consider this.

Prior to setting out on the task of writing a mission statement for your organization, keep these things in mind.

Be specific. Keep your writing clear and concise. Put away the thesaurus and forget the superfluous words, no one wants to read a bunch of fluff. Avoid writing generalities. Instead, share the impact your efforts have had. Ensure that you have clearly identified WHY your organization is different from others.

Voice. Write your mission statement from the voice of a perspective supporter and not yourself. You want readers to identify with the statement so they will feel compelled to join you and your cause.

Focus on the WHY. Your mission statement should be memorable. One that will leave readers with a clear understanding of exactly why your organization exists and with a desire to get involved.

3 Mission Statement Must Haves.

Purpose. Readers should know specifically what the purpose of your organization is. Are you raising funds so you can offer financial assistance to others or to provide grants? Perhaps your purpose is to educate consumers on a specific topic. Whatever it is, ensure that the reader knows exactly what your intent is.

Value. Share with your readers the values your organization holds. Whether you are committed to using quality products or local providers, state the clearly.

Why. People will want to know why your organization exists and the mission statement is a good place to share that. Sharing your passion will resonate with your readers and likely increase their desire to support your organization.

Final Thoughts

Your mission statement is a springboard to all communications — internal and external. Once you have developed your mission statement, post it where staff, donors and board members can see it. Add it to your website, in your emails and printed newsletters. Repeat it daily – and encourage all others to as well.

Does your non-profit organization have a Mission Statement?

 

Get Ready for Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is on November 29th this year! To some that sounds far off, but experienced non-profit marketers know it will be here before your know it! Ward off potential stress and start planning now.

A little history on Giving Tuesday, first. This 1 day movement was started by the interim CEO of the 92nd Street Y in NYC and the United Nations Foundation in 2012. They wanted to focus 1 day at the start of the holiday season on charitable giving. They succeeded!  In 2015, $116.4 was raised and it is expected that 2016’s number will be even higher.

Is your organization looking to capitalize on the generosity of donors on Giving Tuesday? Here are 8 things you can do NOW to prepare.

Convenience.

The easier it is for people to donate, the more likely they are to. Check the ease of making donations via mobile devices, on each social platform and from your website now. This is the perfect time to optimize this process.

Engage.

Start engaging with past, current and potential donors now. Let them know what your organization has been up to, what impact previous donations have had on your cause and what you have planned for the upcoming year. Donors want to hear from you in between asks.

Involve local businesses.

Now is a great time to identify and approach local businesses about collaborating on Giving Tuesday. Asking them now to match donations will give them time to consider it..and they will likely appreciate your forethought!

Donate now.

Adding (and testing) a “Donate Here” feature to your website and social platforms now can’t hurt. Not only will they then be in place and ready for Giving Tuesday, but your organization could receive unexpected (and appreciated) donations in the meantime.

Visuals.

Spend the time now creating branded graphics, thank yous and other digital medium for use during your Giving Tuesday campaign. Having them ready ahead of time will certainly reduce the stress later on. Keep in mind that posts with images receive more engagement.

Resources.

Every campaign needs to have appropriate allocated resources, and Giving Tuesday is no exception. Schedule time to meet with your staff, including volunteers and keep them posted on Giving Tuesday plans. Don’t have enough hands? Start recruiting!

Technology.

Take the time now to test our your existing technology. Being able to track donations in a functioning CRM system, sending emails and monitoring the flurry of activity on your social media is essential. Finding the bugs now leaves you plenty of time to fix them!

Thank you!

Everyone wants to know they (and their donations) are appreciated. Plan creative, personal ways to thank your donors for their Giving Tuesday contribution. Bonus points for sharing the impact their generosity had on your mission.

Whether your goal is to acquire new donors, increase recurring donations or fund a special project, preparing a Giving Tuesday campaign can help you to reach your goals.

 

How is your non-profit organization preparing for Giving Tuesday?

10 Tools to Help Build Your Website

Increase awareness of your organization and its mission to current and would be donors as well as to potential volunteers with a website. All too often, smaller organizations forego having an online presence because they don’t have staff with the skill set to design a website nor the funds to hire outside help.

There are lots of programs and websites available to help even those without coding or design abilities to create websites for free or a nominal fee. We’re sharing 10 to inspire you to launch a site of your organization’s own!

 

Bubble 

This easy to follow, intuitive program will help you build and launch your own website and mobile apps. Easily add text, video, images and more to help convey your organization’s mission and cause.

Why we like it: This program is totally customizable right on down to the colors, fonts and layout.

 

Builder Engine 

Without the need for coding, users can create complex websites using a multitude of available add-on apps. Users are empowered to create the site of their dreams with this flexible powerful system.

Why we like it: Support! A myriad of forums and a ticket support system are available to offer assistance and guidance as you need it.

 

Carrd 

Create a single page, responsive site that is not only functional, but beautiful as well with this FREE service. That’s right, we said FREE! This platform is currently in BETA version, but is absolutely worth keeping on your radar.

Why we like it: Point and click — it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

 

Pivot

Using more than 70 uniquely designed content blocks, you can create a custom site to share your organization’s story. Move blocks around to completely customize your site to meet your unique needs. Add maps, photos and more to create a more robust site.

Why we like it: FAST! Literally, within minutes you can set up your site.

 

Picnic 

Not only can you easily and quickly set up a one page website on this platform but you can also set up your new domain. Avoid the mountain of forms needed to register your site when you use this all inclusive program.

Why we like it: Sites are published in an average of 5 minutes without DNS or server setup.

 

Square Space 

Regardless of what industry you are in, you will find templates that apply to it. Within minutes you can build a beautiful website that looks custom designed. The hardest part about this program is deciding which template to use.

Why we like it: All templates are mobile friendly so users are restricted in selecting the one that works best for them.

 

Silex

This user friendly WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface offers a good variety of templates and widgets. While there are plenty of free options to select from, you can also choose others for a nominal fee.

Why we like it: For those that have coding skills, incorporating JavaScript apps is easy making this platform one that can grow with your needs – and skills.

 

Template Stash 

This curated collection of top website templates puts countless options at your fingertips. Easily search them by keyword, category or other theme to discover the template that best meets the need of your organization.

Why we like it: It’s a true timesaver. No need to spend countless hours combing the web to find what you need, this aggregator does the work for you.

 

Weebly 

This online platform offers immaculate designs that are sure to please any user. EAch available template is set to work on offer visitors a pleasing experience on desktop machines as well as mobile devices.  An option to publish your site with your own domain or on a Weebly subdomain is available.

Why we like it: Robust site analytics are available so you know how your site is performing.

 

XPRS 

Creating your website is fun on this platform. The vast collection of designs available are easy to edit and customize to meet the needs of your organization. Reliable hosting is a bonus and will ease your stress once your site is publisher.

Why we like it: Integrated ecommerce and blogging capabilities are part of this platform making it a one stop shop.


Pick the program that works best for you and begin to grow your organization’s digital footprint!

Grant Writing Guidelines

With more than $50 billion in grants awarded annually, it is no surprise that a large number of nonprofits choose to invest time and resources into getting their share. While grants may be “free money” it is a highly competitive process to win one.

Too often nonprofits incorporate grant awards into their annual budget and are then unable to complete projects or fully fund programs when they aren’t won. It is in an organization’s best interest to not count on grant funding but to rather look at it as a bonus.

Ready to apply for a grant? Keep these thoughts in mind as you prepare your proposal.

Research. Research the funder. Research the specific grant. Research past grant winners. Oh, and did we mention — do your research?!?! Doing so ensures that your organization’s mission and this particular opportunity match. It is a waste of your time as well as the funder’s to apply for a grant that doesn’t mesh well with your overall objective.

Get started. As soon as you have found a grant you want to apply for, begin the process. It doesn’t matter how far out the application deadline is, this is the time to start. You are likely to have questions and having ample time to pose them to the project administrators will benefit you and your organization.

Terms. Surely you have heard the old adage that there is no such thing as “free money” – it is true! Grants are not entirely free. More often than not, they are restricted funds. What does that mean? It means you must adhere to specific guidelines when appropriating the funds. Be sure you understand them before you accept a grant.

Details, details, detail. As you embark on the grant application process, it is important to not leave out any details. Offer as many specifics as possible when describing your program, its goals and overall mission. The panel doesn’t want to read about theory, they want to see concrete information. Clearly explain who you are, what you stand for and specifically, where the funds awarded will go to. Grantors want to know that you have a plan and are prepared to put the award to use as soon as you receive it.

Credibility. Back up the statements you make in your application with individual references, those from other organizations or better yet, both. These references should attest to the work your nonprofit is doing and the milestones it has achieved. Begin collecting these references as close to the start of the application as possible so your references have ample time to provide them to you.

Proofread, proofread and proofread. This is so important we felt the need to mention it 3 times. The best way to NOT get a grant — submit a proposal that is full of spelling and grammar errors. It’s basic – if you can’t take the time to proofread your proposal, why should any organization award you with a grant?

Solicit an objective opinion. Once you and/or other members of your organization have completed the proposal ask someone from outside the organization to take a look at it. If they are moved by it, you have done well. Should they have questions or not fully understand your organization’s mission, you will want to go back and revise. For this step, it may be worth it to hire a professional to help you.


Grants are a wonderful way to create additional visibility to your organization and may even present additional networking opportunities. Has your organization successfully been awarded grants? Share your top tips with us!