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5 Nonprofit Trends for 2017

5 NONPROFIT TRENDS FOR 2017 (3)

 

In 2016, nonprofit organizations relied on social media for funding more than ever before. On #GivingTuesday social media donations increased by 33% from the previous year. Increased use of technology in 2016 solidified nonprofit giving as acceptable in the social media space and the current trends for 2017 point toward even greater acceptance of donating to charity through social media platforms.

Push for monthly recurring donations

For nonprofits, enduring financially year in and year out is the key to keeping an organization relevant. This year, try making a push in the funding community via social media for monthly recurring donations and imagine an increase in donation revenue.

Authentic stories and relationships

Also, advancing results-driven stories will be crucial in 2017. Using social media tools like live streaming video is a clever way to humanize donor outreach, augment marketing and enhance meaningful nonprofit storytelling.

Email Fundraising

Email marketing has seen a resurgence in today’s “mobile” generation. Litmus data shows that 56% of emails are opened on mobile devices and the number one activity is reading those opened emails. Obviously, mobile website compatibility to an active website, current newsletter, and a dynamic email list is a necessity today for fundraising success.

Digital Payments

Digital payments are becoming the norm on social media platforms. In 2016 several major social media companies integrated a payment button within their email platform to test digital payment effectiveness. And although service was limited for those tests, the ability to contribute using digital payments in 2017 will be on the rise using email and social media for nonprofits.

Decline in Social Media Engagement

Regrettably, many social platforms have become oversaturated and engagement rates have been on the decline for brands, businesses and nonprofits. In order to see any true results from social media, it’s important to invest in current technology, a paid skilled staff and shrewd advertising.

Along with that rapidly changing digital capability, becoming nimble enough technologically to make a strong and authentic human connection ever more convenient for donors is vital in 2017. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for more content exclusively for nonprofits.

Unemployment insurance cost facts every Illinois nonprofit should know!

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What do state unemployment taxes (SUTA), state unemployment reserve balances and claim overpayment rates mean to your nonprofit?

These factors could mean less money for your nonprofit organization’s cause.

54% 2009-2015 Increased Tax Cost

From 2009 to 2012, the Illinois Department of Employment Security borrowed money from the Federal Unemployment Account in order to pay the excess unemployment claims the state trust fund could not cover. In order to replenish the fund, factors used in calculating unemployment rates were increased, therefore increasing the average unemployment tax cost per employee from $300 in 2009 to $463 by 2015.

$227 Million Unemployment Claim Overpayments

The Illinois July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 unemployment claim overpayment rate was 13.585%, equaling over $227 million.

However, there are options to financing your nonprofit organization’s state unemployment costs…

First Nonprofit Group provides state compliant, individually insured, cost-saving options to satisfy SUTA (State Unemployment Insurance Tax) requirements for nonprofit and governmental entities. Below is a sample savings analysis of one of our Illinois members since 2009.

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Visit our website or call (800) 526-4352 to request a free, no-obligation cost savings evaluation on your organization’s unemployment costs. Evaluations include a 2017 rate projection!

Nonprofit Hiring Best Practices

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The hiring process in the nonprofit sector can be quite challenging. Every nonprofit needs a resilient, loyal and solid team in order to thrive and be successful. Many nonprofit managers lack the time and resources it takes to hire qualified candidates which makes the recruiting process more demanding than necessary. Here are few tips to help guide a nonprofit manager’s hiring process.

The right process + patience yields best result

Finding the right candidate that’s a good fit for your organization is a process that takes time and should not be rushed. Beyond having the necessary professional capabilities, the ideal candidate generates mutual benefits when they’re a perfect cultural fit for your organization. Being patient and taking time to attract and hire a suitable, qualified candidate is vital to building an organization for the long run.

Cast a wide net

Utilize all available resources to reach as many potential candidates as possible. Reach into your current network of donors, friends, and clients, use social media, and post on targeted employment websites and professional job boards to spread the word about an exciting employment opportunity.

Have a clear job description

Identify the organization’s needs and craft a precise job description. Include pertinent information such as title, reporting structure, purpose of the position, responsibilities and daily activities, required skills and company background information. Don’t forget to highlight the benefits of working for your nonprofit.

Make promoting a current employee or volunteer a priority

Responsible, loyal organizations will look internally before searching for outside candidates. Not only is this option cost effective, it rewards individuals dedicated to the cause and boosts overall morale.

For a nonprofit organization to thrive indefinitely, it must build a solid collection of nonprofit leaders, change makers and influencers within their staff.

We hope these tips help when hiring your next nonprofit superstar!

Nonprofit Storytelling: The key to effective fundraising for nonprofits

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As more nonprofits continue to use content marketing in their fundraising efforts, telling a compelling and meaningful story is similar to creating a recognizable brand. Many nonprofits struggle with donor preservation and storytelling has proven to be an effective method of retaining and attracting donors while distinguishing an organization’s mission from other competing nonprofits. Here are a few tips on how to tell a compelling story.

Be Authentic

Telling a story that’s authentic to an organization’s mission is sure to make its content influential. A genuine story should be unique, memorable, universally likeable, and come across as “human” and not promotional. Connecting and relating to a mission’s audience in an authentic and vulnerable way is absolutely critical.

Show Your Stories

Effective storytelling must be flexible to adapt to changes in donor preferences and technological advances. Confirm transparency by using photos, video and a variety of media to validate where donation dollars are going! The more followers are able to experience the benefits derived from an organization’s work the more likely fundraising is successful.

Add some Variety

Make certain storytelling content goes beyond the practical benefits of the mission and connects readers/listeners to evocative, touching and personal testimonies. Program success stories, private and stirring revelations about staff and volunteers, plus the positive impact they’ve had on the community increases responsiveness.

Consistency is key

Committing to producing a reliable schedule for with illuminating content is often the biggest obstacle for nonprofit organizations but maintaining it is just as challenging. Creating a steadfast content calendar for nonprofit blogs and social media channels makes the process of maintaining an active presence much easier.

So many opportunities for nonprofit storytelling exist for fundraising efforts, whatever methods chosen should always reflect the essence of an organization’s mission and how it benefits a community.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Crowd Funding

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When nonprofits face budget crises like the past state budget impasses in Pennsylvania and Illinois, crowd funding campaigns become the go-to problem solver which helps organizations raise dollars. Crowd funding is defined as the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Crowdfunding originally was designed for entrepreneurs, but the nonprofit community quickly adapted the concept. Several charitable organizations have seen success through crowdfunding campaigns. With platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Razoo and CauseVox, the art of fundraising is becoming more social, amplifying local nonprofits and their message louder than ever. Here are a few crowdfunding tips to help your organization’s next big fundraiser.

Be Transparent

Clearly laying out the precise purpose for raising money for eliminates any questions or hesitation donors may have. Be transparent and let it be known where the money donated will be working. It is also helpful to include specific organizational information about past successful fundraisers.

Tell a Story

Some of the best crowd funding campaigns have a killer story behind them. A heartfelt and captivating story will resonate with donors and activate the spirit of giving. Robert Wu at CauseVox.com says there are 4 classic storylines that perform well with nonprofit crowd funding: 1) Overcoming the monster, 2) Rags to riches, 3) Quest, and 4) Tragedy.

Have a plan and share it

Many times, nonprofits think they can just put up a campaign and the dollars will automatically just start rolling. That couldn’t be further from the truth! For a successful crowdfunding campaign, it takes some strategic planning. Start getting the message out to your donors through email, in person, or through social media about a specific new campaign to raise funds. Build a strong base prior to any campaign by leveraging current donors to ensure a successful campaign.

 
These are just a few tips to assist in creating a successful crowdfunding campaign. When used correctly, crowdfunding can be a great resource to mobilize donors in a short amount of time for a worthy cause. Giving Tuesday is right around the corner! Take the time to build a solid crowdfunding campaign for your nonprofit and let us know if any of these tips were helpful.

Finding A Job In The Nonprofit Sector

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Working in the nonprofit sector is becoming increasingly desirable for job seekers. Forbes.com reports that nonprofits are adding jobs and avoiding layoffs, employing 10.7 million people (over 10% of the U.S. workforce) in the U.S. Here are a few tips to help you find a job in the nonprofit sector.

Volunteer and Network

Employers, both for-profit and non-profit, find volunteer experience for any potential job candidate very appealing. Not only is volunteering for different nonprofit organizations a good way to land a dream job, but it’s also a good way to identify social causes you are truly passionate about. Being passionate about a particular cause makes a more attractive candidate to those nonprofits serving that cause.

Make Your Resume Stand Out

In addition to adding your volunteer experience on a resume, decide what position is most appealing to apply for and focus on demonstrating qualifications that benefit the nonprofit. Research each organization to which you apply and tailor a resume to highlight those benefits. Go above and beyond to find out who the hiring manager is and create a personal cover letter that conveys sincerity.

Search online Job Boards and Social Media

There are several online job boards and sites that are credible resources for those looking for employment in the nonprofit sector. Sites like LinkedIn, Idealist, and NonprofitCareer.com are a great resources that specialize in job opportunities in the nonprofit sector.

 
The good thing about the nonprofit sector is there are jobs in just about any imaginable career field. Plus, Nonprofit organizations are growing at a rapid pace which means job opportunities in the nonprofit sector will continue to be desirable positions for years to come.

Benefits of Nonprofit Board Service

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Serving on a nonprofit board is a rewarding and beneficial experience. It can provide a world of opportunities that include career development, profile visibility, expanding present networks, and much more. Here are just a few key benefits to serving on a nonprofit board.

Resume Builder

Deciding to serve on a nonprofit’s board, requires working on different committees and with different people. Engaging with new people on different committee’s provides an opportunity to make new friends, develop new skills, such as project management, or hone old ones.

Network Enhancer

Not only does serving on a nonprofit board provide a unique opportunity to meet influential people in different industries outside of your expertise, it also highlights to other key players your own professionalism which could provide future job opportunities.

It Feels Good

Serving on a board for a nonprofit is an unpaid position which requires the work of the organization. Even better, engaging in giving has suspected health benefits that includes lowering blood pressure, combating depression and enhancing psychological well-being.

 
No matter the choice, serving on a nonprofit board is a great way to give back to the community while utilizing both new and old tools to improve professionally. Do you serve on a nonprofit board? Share your experience with us on Twitter!

10 Meeting Productivity Tips

How do nonprofit staff and board members hold effective meetings? If a nonprofit doesn’t effectively prepare for a gathering of stakeholders, those attending the meeting can become apprehensive and disengaged fairly quickly. Personnel may even begin to view the event as a waste of their time because it’s disorganized and no actionable outcomes are achieved.

In reality, meetings can be highly productive encounters for everyone involved if attendees take the appropriate steps to prepare for them. Below are 10 tips for nonprofit professionals looking to make their next meeting highly efficient and meaningful. For additional meeting productivity tips, visit HelloFocus.com.

Create an agenda

When nonprofit board members come together to discuss issues related to governance and creating a sustainable organization, they should take a structured approach. According to The Fundraising Authority, many nonprofits allow too much room for interpretation while developing an agenda by broadly labeling items as a “fundraising update” or “outstanding issues.” Additionally, it may be worth the board members’ time to review recent fundraising or membership developments as they pertain to governance, and there should be a specific time limit established for each action item.

Set a time limit for meetings

Part and parcel of a functional nonprofit meeting is keeping it within a reserved time frame. According to Wild Apricot, a software service provider for membership organizations, it’s imperative that meetings begin and finish on time. It not only sets a bad precedent for future gatherings if they routinely begin 5 – 10 minutes late, but also negatively impacts attendees’ perception of the event. In other words, it demonstrates a lack of respect for the members who show up on time. In addition, meetings that run over the allotted limit similarly reflects poorly on the organization. The Fundraising Authority explained board members are volunteers and may have other obligations.

Address only single issues of controversy or conflict per any single meeting

Even the most efficient meeting won’t likely address all nuances of a conflict occurring within a nonprofit organization. As Wild Apricot suggested, limit the talking points surrounding a controversy to a specific priority in order to effectively make progress. For instance, if an association has issues retaining members, don’t attempt to pin down all causes during the span of an hour-long meeting, but rather select on to focus on during the current meeting.

Keep tech distractions to a minimum

According to Forbes, there aren’t many reasons to bring iPhones or iPads into a meeting. These electronic devices often end up being more of a distraction than a tool that facilitates discussion. There are organizations that have effectively gone paperless and use tablets to distribute agendas ahead of time, but it’s up to the participants to ensure the technology isn’t being abused. From emails to mobile apps, there are a number of ways that meeting attendees can get drawn away from the discussion at hand and not put forth their full effort.

Meet on schedule

If nonprofits plan meetings haphazardly – for instance, when significant amounts of time elapse between gatherings – it’s likely too many events will occur than can be effectively discussed during a single meeting. Accordingly, Inc. Magazine recommended staying regular with these gatherings. With greater consistency, attendees can anticipate when they can expect to participate.

Assess the invite list

It’s likely that not all meetings will be pertinent to each staff or board member. As a result, Forbes suggested keeping a keen eye on the individuals invited to the event. The topic for discussion should be directly relevant and applicable to the attendees – otherwise, they’ll likely become alienated because they won’t have anything to add.

Assign a facilitator

Bruce Lesley, senior governance consultant for BoardSource, spoke on a Stanford Graduate School of Business video indicating that there should be a person in charge of enabling discussion. Lesley recommended the board chair is the person for the job, and he or she can facilitate conversations that are interactive. The outcome of the meeting should produce results beyond the contributions of any single attendee.

Keep reading time to a minimum

Nonprofit Quarterly indicated reports serve a definite purpose, but just not as an item to be read during a meeting. It’s understood that meeting attendees can likely read through important reports before the event, but taking up precious minutes during a meeting to read verbatim isn’t an effective use of time. If anything, a report should serve as a spring board for further discussion or for members to ask for clarification if needed.

Track the discussion with meeting minutes

Any effective agenda is generally accompanied by thorough meeting minutes. They may not be the most exciting part of an active discussion, but they’re often necessary to keep all attendees on the same page, especially in advance of future gatherings.

Provide time for reflection

According to Inc., a meeting should end with sufficient time to review the decisions and outcomes – even five minutes is sufficient.

 

Tips for writing a great nonprofit mission statement

A mission statement is an important piece of communication for nonprofit organizations because it is used to communicate an organization’s aims and values to a wide audience: their board, employees, funding sources and other stakeholders. By considering some notable nonprofit’s mission statements that follow, they all have one thing in common: They focus and clearly define each organization’s strategy.

“The world’s largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see.” -Change.org
“We defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing environmentally responsible solutions.” –Greenpeace
“To enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by helping people reach their full potential through education, skills training and the power of work.” –Goodwill
“To promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” -U.S. Department of Education

Focused and clearly defined mission statements can also provide a strong description of where the nonprofit is headed, set the organization apart from other organizations and make a convincing case for the need it fills in their community. Below are some other tips to keep in mind when creating or revising a mission statement.

• Make a list:
 Ask for input from the community being served. Gather board members and stakeholders and brainstorm a list of things they would like the organization to accomplish.

• Answer questions:
Who – Who will the organization serve?
What – What service will the organization provide?
Where – Where will the service be provided?
Why – Why was the organization established and what unmet needs will it solve? Some nonprofits describe this as a vision statement.

• BUT keep it short, sweet and to the point:
A good mission statement is free of jargon, uses action words, and quantifies a specific goal in 15 words or less.

 Other Mission Statement Tips
 – Establish a review process – A mission statement is necessary in order to maintain a 501c3 status. Organizations should review their mission statement every 3 years to ensure it aligns with their charitable purpose.
– Use mission statements on organizational stationary, websites and communication.
 The time, attention, and money (if a professional writer is hired) it takes to write a mission statement is well worth the investment. It will be a labor of love but the result will be the backbone that guides organizations to success.

 Below is a breakdown of our own mission statement:

 

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