When you are ready to move on from the business world, you might consider pursuing a career with a non-profit organization. This field gives you the chance to utilize the skills you have honed in the corporate sector to help others that truly need it. The detailed records that you kept with the company you worked with before will be beneficial as you fundraise by showing the transparency of your group’s efforts. Here are a few points to follow as you transition from one industry to the other.
When you bring on people to work for you as well as to sit on your governing board, search for those who hold the same thoughts and ambitions as you do. To do this, solicit for employees from the corporate world instead of the fundraising world. While it may be beneficial to have a few staff members that have experience in the non-profit sector, having people with an entrepreneurial background with a fresh outlook on how to get results from your donors will make you successful. There are several of these candidates who are looking for a change of pace as well. Choose members with diverse backgrounds, especially when you are looking to fill board positions. Hire a few people for your board that know how to get donations and have a successful track record of doing so. You will also need members who understand the organization you are fundraising for and have connections in the area around you. Round out your group with those who can manage others and have legal or financial backgrounds. Be sure whoever you bring on understands the purpose of your non-profit and embraces its mission.
It is vitally important to keep meticulous records and books in the event a donor wants to know where their money has been spent. If someone who has given a donation to your organization asks for information concerning their non-profit, you must be able to supply them with that data almost immediately. To assist you with this, purchase nonprofit accounting software to help you keep track of things. Ask for training so that you and your staff utilize it to its fullest. Set up a protocol to handle accepting gifts to your group, documenting them, acknowledging them to the giver, and recording where you plan to use it. Ensure that every employee and board member knows how to behave in an ethical manner. Run audits of your bank accounts, accounting, and any other metric that has to do with the operation of your non-profit. Staying vigilant about the transparency of your organization will also make it easier to stay compliant with any federal forms and regulations as well.
Review what the current policies are for your non-profit, especially as it pertains to the way you govern the organization. Look for articles that might be outdated and either reword them or remove them. Consider adding new policies as the need arises. Refer back to these rules often to ensure that they are being followed as well as are still relevant. One particular section to enforce is any that have to do with a conflict of interest. This has to do with any board of staff member making a profit through their association with your group. If this becomes the case, they should withhold their opinion on the matter. You should also have details on the benefits and payment for each person who works there, how long to keep the paperwork you generate as you do your daily business, and how you will protect an employee who reports a violation being done by another. The method that you write and enforce your policies is another way to keep your non-profit as transparent and ethical as possible which will give your organization a great image to the rest of the community. This could give those people the incentive to donate to you.
Using the same techniques over and over will eventually lead to your donations dropping off. Find new and innovative ways to get the attention of new donors. Consider organizing a new fundraising event and talking to those with an interest in that field to participate. Encourage your staff to think outside their comfort zone as they develop new ideas then be willing to put those concepts into action. Be courageous enough to dare to do things differently than those in your same areas of interest might. However, as you start doing this, talk with the people and businesses that provide most of your operating budget and make sure they are comfortable with you doing this. While taking risks can be beneficial and bring in more donors, it can put you in an uncomfortable place if you lose those who give the most and are unable to recoup that money.
Another avenue of fundraising that could put money in the hands of those you serve is to offer products and services for a charge. It can be a small amount to cover the cost of the materials and labor plus a little extra to go towards your group. Those who are interested in what you do and the items you are selling will want to pay for it. Offer the idea up to your staff and board to get their feelings on it. Designate a few individuals to develop a storefront and business plan to get started. Quiz some of your current donors and ask for their opinion on it, especially if they feel it would be something they or someone they know would purchase. Ask those involved with your non-profit to spread the news about it once you are open and ready for customers. Most of all, once money does come in, be very specific about the total dollars you received and where they will be applied. Be sure to detail your total costs on the items as well as your inventory and any funds you may have spent on advertising.
Just like in the business world, set up a series of goals for your staff to strive for. This can be more than the funds that you have raised. If you manage a food bank, set a goal to bring in so many pounds of food through donations to your organization. If you are the head of a charity for cancer treatment, translate the dollars you have raised to the number of free tests that are now available for those to take who might live in a low income situation. When your team reaches the level you have set for them, find a way to reward them for their hard work, whether it would be through treats or lunch brought in or by prizes offered in a contest. If you are ready for a break from the corporate world, consider changing directions and take a position in the non-profit sector. The knowledge that you possess as an entrepreneur can change the way your organization solicits for donations as well as help you manage a successful, happy staff set on doing good for others.
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