Service Sector Snapshot: News and Tips for Nonprofits (February 2015)
Posted Thursday, February 26th, 2015 by Verified Volunteers Staff
The New Year is a time to rethink focus, strategy, and sometimes even leadership. Our partner, Points of Light, just announced a new leader for their organization. Tracy Hoover, currently serving as President, is stepping into the role of CEO of the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. She replaces Michelle Nunn, who took a leave of absence to run for the U.S. Senate and has decided to return to Points of Light as a board member instead of picking up in her role as Chief Executive. When asked about the selection of Tracy for the role, Nunn noted: “Tracy is a great leader, partner, and friend and I know she will usher in terrific new possibilities for the organization and service movement.” We know Tracy well and know she will do a terrific job as the new leader of Points of Light. Congratulations!
Change can be very exciting and – and also very challenging. Times of change are great opportunities to motivate your team and inspire new perspectives. What changes are happening in 2015 for your organization? Here are a couple of tips and tools to help you rethink your organization’s culture and digital strategy.
Tips and Tools for Nonprofit Managers
Cultivating Your Culture
The nonprofit world is just as susceptible to struggles with employee and volunteer retention as the corporate world. Workforce values have shifted to place a much higher emphasis on organizational culture. This discussion, originally covered by Nonprofit Hub, demonstrates that culture is not just about dress code and social activities, but about an environment where individuals feel they have a voice and an ability to share values.
Here are some questions to consider when thinking about the type of culture you want to foster:
- What attributes does a top performer have?
- What does a top performer value?
- How can you ensure that their values align with those of your organization?
- How can you reward success in a way that is meaningful?
Your Digital Strategy
We’ve talked about nonprofits’ digital efforts time and again in the past year. But if we asked you to define your digital strategy, do you think you could?
You may say that you don’t have the funds to put together a well-defined digital strategy. Here’s the good news: according to an article posted by PR Newswire, there are four elements of a digital strategy that are actually minimally impacted by budget (or the lack thereof). Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN shared “We know that staff time is valuable, but we’ve already budgeted for it…many [digital strategy] recommendations require staff time to strategize, make changes, and optimize online processes or experience. They do not, necessarily, require new funds or larger budgets for new tools. It’s a matter of being strategic, not buying more technology.”
Some of the key strategy tips include:
- Focusing on the right audience – ensure you’re targeting the right people. And, more importantly, ensure your audience is being reached!
- Implementing a structured plan – at a minimum, establish cross-functional teams to ensure consistent messaging across departments and across a variety of platforms or mediums.
- Developing meaningful content – in addition to creating content that is relevant, recent and engaging, create a marketing “funnel” to ensure that videos, images, blog posts and infographics are aligned with your strategy.
- Utilizing the right technology and tools – use analytics tools to help review your successes and recreate them, and also to deconstruct failures to prevent them in the future. Use other tools to track your interactions with potential donors and to gain a better understanding of their funding cycles.
Need Help Covering Your Overhead Expenses?
Thanks to recent regulatory changes to the way the federal government funds nonprofit groups, you may be eligible to receive additional funding for indirect costs like:
- Administration and executive management
- Office space, utilities, and technology
- Staff and volunteer training costs
While there are still concerns that this change will not cover the full costs of program deliveries, leaders in the sector note that this is positive progress. “With a shift in thinking on what constitutes fair pay for nonprofits, the federal government is signaling that the sector matters.”
News in the Service Sector
- Do you support corporate volunteers? See how their performance reviews are being tied to their volunteer efforts.
- Why we screen our volunteers: Volunteer Firefighter arrested in Houston.
- Why we screen our volunteers: School volunteer arrested in California.
Making a Difference
In Watsonville, CA, a small nonprofit called Digital NEST and its fearless founder and Executive Director, Jacob Martinez, are working hard to shift the imbalance of tech-savvy workers in Silicon Valley. Recognizing that only 25% of tech workers are female, and minority groups, like Latinos, are significantly underrepresented, Digital NEST is “removing barriers that youth face on the pathways to their careers.”
Although they are just getting started, the little nonprofit has managed to raise $300,000 (including a $100,000 donation from an anonymous donor), and have received widespread support from technology giants like Adobe, Smith Micro, Linda.com and Logitech for everything from software and hardware, to online learning platforms.
Martinez hopes that the programs offered by Digital NEST will teach youth – including young women and minorities – the computer skills they need to open doors to jobs in the future.