Five ways to run your non-profit smoothly

Are you setting up or do you run a non-profit? Here are five ways you can keep it going smoothly.

Looking for information on what it takes to run a nonprofit well? There are five key areas you need to master when setting one up, and keeping it going.

1) Active outreach

If your organization lacks assertive, active outreach it won’t be able to impact those it was formed to serve. So your mission and availability must be clear and known to those who would most benefit from your nonprofit’s services.

To achieve effective outreach and transform lives, you need to build an active base of volunteers. Did you know volunteers can cover a lot of your staffing needs? Your volunteers will help you deliver services, plan for events, and can even handle every-day operations. You can keep up with the work that your volunteers are doing by ensuring that they record all of their activities in a tracking volunteers log.

Make sure that you reward volunteers for their time and energy. Keep snacks, coffee, and water handy. Write thank-you notes, and ensure you acknowledge all of their acts of kindness, so they know their efforts are important and valued.

2) Board engagement

Your most committed volunteers could sit on your board of directors. However, your board should not just be made up of community leaders that enjoy hands-on work. Your board of directors needs individuals that can give or get a set amount of money for your nonprofit. ‘Give or get’ means your board members must either donate or raise a set amount of money.

Your board members will probably have jobs, family and other obligations, so make sure you keep in contact with them and ensure they don’t forget key dates, event needs, budget deadlines, meetings etc. An engaged board will help you raise money from as many sources as possible too, too!

3) Effective fundraising

Diversify the ways that you raise money will help you to have more effective fundraising. This can include grant sources, such as resources from foundations, state grants, and federal grants.

It’s also important to regularly ask for generous donations from those who are willing to support the cause. One way to do this is by putting on fundraising events, or holding an online raffle where people can buy tickets, but also donate prizes for the fundraiser. Another is by setting up consistent revenue streams. For example, you might want to reach out to local companies about employee giving programs.

If you are seeking grants, it’s important to know that potential grantors usually look at your administrative costs first. So they need to be kept to a minimum – ideally under 20%. Effective fundraising also requires meticulous record-keeping, and you must be accountable.

4) Accurate reporting

You also need a processing system that can handle donations and provide quick, dependable reports of your finances. Nonprofit payment processing platforms ensure your reports are accurate and donations are secure. Your nonprofit will be more transparent, too.

You are bound by the state and federal government to have accurate reporting. You must be able to account for every dollar raised and every dollar spent. The opportunity for you to have a lean budget, profits, and legal protections are guaranteed with accurate reporting.

You will also have the opportunity to quickly pull information about your finances. Do you want to be on the phone with a donor and not have the answer to their question? Accurate reporting ensures you are prepared, so it’s a good idea to use accounting software to keep everything managed correctly. You’ll find that quickbooks and non profits don’t work especially well together, so look for platforms like Aplos that that are designed specifically for non-profit use.

5) Meaningful communications

Word of mouth marketing, compelling advertising, informative emails and engaging content across all modern media channels will help you with your communication efforts – just like any business or organization.

You also need your social media to be consistent and engaging. Use photos and videos to tell your nonprofit’s story. Always try to use statements from those you serve. You can even develop a speakers’ pool. This is a group of people trained by you and your organization on how to effectively speak to the press.

Ensure you have relationships with local press contacts, and work to get your nonprofit featured in blogs, magazines, newspapers, and on TV. You can set up free public service announcements with radio stations, too.

Here’s some communications advice that you’ll find helpful for your non-profit:

Photo by Kat Yukawa