A modification of a post from Philanthropy Front and Center - Atlanta
Happy New Year from the Foundation Center! Since the end of 2010 and the beginning of the 2011 is the time for making both Top 10 lists of everything in 2010 and resolutions for 2011, here are a few suggested resolutions for nonprofit organizations and professionals to make as we enter the new year:
1. Form a genuine partnership
The effects of the economic crisis on giving was a theme for many in 2010, and will continue to be of some concern in 2011 (though according to this November report things may be looking up). With many foundations seeing a significant drop in assets over the last two years, one phrase hear again and again from grantmakers is "an increase in strategic grantmaking." With fewer dollars to go around, grantmakers are more interested than ever in making sure that their dollars have the most impact by investing in nonprofit collaborations. Organizations working together lessen the likelihood of duplication of services and combine the power of multiple organizations together to solve the same problem.
Our Nonprofit Collaboration Database contains over 250 different examples of organizations working together, drawn from the Lodestar Foundation's 2009 Collaboration Prize. If you're looking for collaboration ideas and inspiration, this database has some top-notch examples of a variety of different partnerships such as combined marketing efforts, joint staff training, and shared programs.
2. Get organized (your fundraising, that is)
Let's look at the facts: (1) everyone is busy and (2) fundraising is vital to your organization's sustainability. Even without an economic crisis, fundraising can be difficult, so do yourself and your organization a favor and plan! Laying out all of your grant application deadlines, fundraising campaigns, events, and to-do lists is an important part of starting your year on the right foot and helping insure (though not guarantee, unfortunately) your organization against dry periods between grants. It can also help you think about where your funding is coming from and how you can help make your organization more sustainable in the long run. For a good primer to fundraising planning, check out our Introduction to Fundraising Planning class to get the basics. And of course, use the Foundation Directory Online to research new funding opportunities.
3. Get the word out
Your organization's good work can only go so far if no one is aware of the incredible things you are doing, so use 2011 to find new ways to educate your community! Try a new type of social media, invest more time in the networks you're already using, and make a marketing plan! Check out some of the resources available on the Communications/Marketing page of GrantSpace. If you're in the greater Atlanta area, then you're in luck - the Foundation Center-Atlanta will be hosting marketing expert Susan Burnash as an Expert in Residence in January. Through her classes on January 12th and January 19th, as well as her days of residence on the 14th and 21st, Susan will be helping organizations improve their marketing and community outreach efforts.
Even if you don't always have the money to spend on formal training, don't stop learning! There are plenty of opportunities to learn if you make it a priority, and it's good for both your long-term health and the health of your organization. While the term "learning organization" might be a little overused at this point, that doesn't undermine the fact that you owe it to your organization's constituents to be the absolute best at serving them. Without learning from your mistakes and successes, being the best at what you do is going to be difficult. We have a lot to offer at our five Foundation Center locations, including thousands of books, access to our databases, and a range of free and fee based courses. And if you're not near any of our five main locations, our cooperating collections all provide a core collection of Foundation Center materials for your use. With more than 450 current cooperating collections worldwide, there's bound to be one near you.
This resolution ties directly in with all of the others. In a recent interview with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, author and marketing expert Seth Godin said something that has really powerful: "There's this imperative to go fail, and fail often, and fail badly on the way to building community, to building connection, to telling stories that work. If you're not willing to do that, I don't think you should go to work tomorrow." Now granted, from an organizational standpoint, constantly failing is not going to make a good case with any of your donors, but I think the spirit of the message is important: get out there and try new things and get on your way to doing something great.