why should non-profits court volunteers ?
Granted, most non-profits are under staffed. It is therefore not surprising that they balk at the prospect of including any program that requires supervision or extra effort.
Although these issues are legitimate, non-profits with a volunteering program stand to gain added benefits . The benefits that non-profits stand to accrue from the inclusion of an efficient volunteering program include:
1. Increased Funding
As part of the corporate responsibility programs of some corporations, eligible non-profits that offer volunteering opportunities are awarded grants. Once an employee of the corporation volunteers some time working on a project at a non-profit, a grant award matching the number of hours worked is awarded to the non-profit. Corporations have unique methods of calculating rates associated with the hours expended by employees on non-profit projects.
2. Higher Productivity
An efficient volunteering program results in higher productivity. Since volunteers take on added tasks, program staff are provided with an opportunity to narrow their focus/responsibility. By wearing fewer hats, they become less tired and more productive. This results in a happier work force along with its' attendant effects on the work environment.
3. Community Involvement
Offering a volunteering program provides a non-profit with an opportunity to engage positively with the community in which it operates. Naturally, this will lead to an expansion of its(non-profit) networks and an awareness of the non-profits mission. The resulting goodwill to the non-profit is a key step in strengthening its position within the community .
Although the benefits listed above are strong reasons why non-profits are encouraged to incorporate volunteer programs, these benefits can only be reaped if the conditions itemized below are considered during the planning phase of a volunteer program:
By incorporating these recommendations, a non-profit stands to gain high retention rates.
Including an efficient volunteer program should be prioritized by non-profits as it yields benefits (increased funding, higher productivity, community involvement) .
Written by Sherita . N. Brace
Non-Profit Market Research - Benefits
The implementation of market research (identification of a specific market and measurement of its size and other characteristics) as part of program design activities by non-profits is a practice that cannot be ignored. Hitherto, market research was viewed as a practice best suited for corporations and industries. Yet, non-profits stand to gain immensely from the incorporation of market research in their program design practices.
For non-profits that cite limited funding and time as the main reasons why they can't afford to conduct market research, it should be noted that refraining from conducting market research is actually costly in the long term. Benefits of market research to non-profits include;
1. Time Saver
Let's observe the following scenario. A non-profit may decide to offer shelter services for victims of domestic violence within its' community. After approval from the board, the non-profit may decide to design a program aimed at providing shelter services. How will the non-profit move from acting based on an assumption to acting based on facts? What if there is another non-profit carrying out the same service ? Without market research, the leadership of the non-profit will not have a sufficient response to this question. In the event that another non-profit is already offering that service in the community, a likely outcome could be that the program would not be successful. Therefore, the time and funds expended on the program would have been for naught. Had market research been conducted from the onset, this outcome would have been avoided.
2. Competitive Advantage
In an ideal world, competition would be non-existent. Yet, the world we live in is highly competitive. For non-profits to excel, it is essential that they figure out their value and competitive edge. This can be gleaned through market research. Once a non-profit carries out market research, it will be armed with insight on how its' competitors are carrying out their programs. Along with this insight comes the opportunity to figure out how to carry out similar services effectively and efficiently. This knowledge will inevitably result in a non-profit attaining its competitive advantage!
3. Sustainable Programs
Conducting market research is a key step in the design of sustainable programs. For example, by carrying out market research, the leadership of a non-profit will acquire information on where a need is greatest and the beneficiaries that stand to gain most from a proposed service. On the flip side, areas requiring minimum service from the non-profit will be brought to light. Therefore, the design of a program taking into account information gained from market research is highly likely to be sustainable.
Through market research, a non-profit can gain important information on the services being provided by other non-profits within its' community. Accordingly, it will be in a better position to team up or collaborate with the right non-profit when it comes to providing services that require such partnerships. Also, a non-profits ability to form the right partnership(s) when seeking funds can increase its' fundraising potential.
Small non-profits can take advantage of affordable market research that are easily accessible. Some of the affordable options for conducting market research can be readily obtained from sources such as local libraries and local colleges. Non-profits ought to integrate market research in their program design efforts as they will reap benefits such as saving time, gaining a competitive advantage, designing sustainable programs and establishing partnerships.
Written By : Sherita N Brace
1.Market Research. Retrieved June 23, 2017 from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/marketing-research.html
2. Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations, Alan R. Andreasen, Phillip Kotler, 2008, Seventh International Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall.
the Benefits of non-profit branding
To the uninitiated, branding is synonymous to the image of a logo. Yet, branding is much more than a logo. What then, is branding? "Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015) . One can clearly tell from this definition that branding is much more than a logo , a website or a brochure.
In times past, non-profits adopted the concept of branding mainly for fundraising purposes. Today, branding has evolved beyond fundraising purposes and offers the following benefits:
1). Builds Trust
An effective branding strategy that communicates the impact of a non-profits work engenders trust. By sharing its' activities and progress, people become aware of the role the non-profit plays in its' community. With the trust earned, a non-profit can easily garner support for its' causes.
2). Advocacy / Expanded Support Base
Once people become aware of a non-profits' work, it becomes easier for them to connect with its' brand. Consequently, they not only become loyal adherents of the non-profit but they also become its' advocates. This can serve the non-profit in many ways. For instance, success stories shared on a non-profits social media page can be re-posted by loyal adherents and shared with their friends. Such activities have the power of expanding a non-profits support base since a wider audience is reached.
3). Increased Funding Opportunities
A strong brand improves the rate of success of a non-profits' funding endeavors. By creating a positive brand image, it becomes easier to engage favorably with funders and stakeholders alike.
4). Facilitates Partnership Formation
A strong brand makes it easier for a non-profit to forge meaningful partnerships. The ability to collaborate with other organizations enhances a non-profits ability to implement projects that have a wider reach/scope. This in turn creates a favorable perception for the non-profit and influences its' fund raising potential.
It is important for a non-profit to develop a compelling and consistent brand since it engenders trust among its' audience, expands its' support base, increases its' funding opportunities and facilitates its' ability to forge partnerships.
By Sherita N. Brace
Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)
Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012). The Role of Brand in the Non - Profit Sector[Blogpost].Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector#bio-footer
preparing a program budget section for grants : Non-Profits
A well written budget highlighting a programs' expenses is bound to leave a positive impression on grantors. In preparing this section, the request for proposal (rfp) should be read thoroughly. This will inform the writer about specific components that are required since they vary from grantor to grantor. Bear in mind that most funders provide a tool that can be used to capture the budget.
The main components of the budget section of a grant include direct costs, indirect costs and in-kind support.
According to The Mott Foundation, "Direct costs are those for activities or services that benefit specific projects, e.g., salaries for project staff and materials required for a particular project". These costs can be traced to programs and are itemized for identification ease. Also, calculations for direct costs should be simple. It doesn't serve much purpose to create complicated formulas.
Another name for indirect costs is overhead costs. As Cost Tree states, "An indirect cost supports the overall success of your organization. It may be fixed or variable, incurred from a common purpose, or is a cost that cannot be directly traced to one specific grant, service, or project". Examples of indirect costs might include rent, utilities and equipment rental.
Although most non-profits have an indirect rate that they apply to their budgets, some funders may reimburse a percentage of total indirect costs only if the rate has been approved by them after negotiation.
In-kind support in the form of donated goods and volunteer services is an indication of a programs' sustainability. In addition, the inclusion of this section reflects the support that the program receives from the community. This, in turn, creates a favorable impression on grantors.
The inclusion of direct costs, indirect costs and in-kind support will contribute to the creation of a comprehensive budget that reflects thoughtfulness. Such a budget will boost the rate of success of an organization's funding objectives.
Written By: Sherita Brace
why are grant reports necessary ?
You discovered a need in your community and formulated a strategy for solving it. The next plan of action you took entailed the implementation of your strategy. Also, you were successful at finding a funder whose interests aligned with your non-profit's mission. Consequently, your non-profit has been awarded a grant as a means of helping in the realization of its' goals.
Granted, one can appreciate the immense responsibilities and duties that come with running a successful non-profit. Sometimes, while attending to the everyday requirements of program implementation, the development of a grant report can end up on the back burner. I can't stress it enough, grant reports are very important and should be prioritized. In the the event that your non-profit finds itself missing a deadline, include a letter explaining the reason for the delayed submission and include it with your report... Better late than never !
Why Are Grant Reports important? Why should you take time off your busy schedule to prepare one ? Grant reports are important because of the following reasons :
1. Accountability :
It provides funders with information on how the grant awarded to your program was used. Through the financial statement provided, they are able to acquire comprehensive information on how much money was spent on the various components of the program.
2. Positive Reputation of Non-Profit :
A well written grant report aids in boosting the credibility to the recipient of the grant . It also demonstrates to the funder that your organization can be trusted . This paves the way for the strengthening of relationships. Once a non-profit earns the trust of a funder, further funding for the expansion of programs becomes easier.
3. Program Outcome :
Increasingly, funders are now opting for an outcome oriented approach. Through a grant report, funders are provided with tangible evidence of their financial contribution to your program. A grant also helps funders in assessing the sustainability of the program which in turn informs informing future grant decisions.
4. Human Touch :
An engaging and informative grant report lends a human touch to the program. For instance, in reports where testimonies from few beneficiaries expressing the positive impact of the program's results are included, funders end up with relatable evidence of how the grant awarded has impacted lives. This, in turn, improves the likelihood of continuous support from the funder .
Utmost importance should be attached to the writing of grant reports. An informative, engaging and timely grant report will go a long way in strengthening a non-profits relationship with funders. In addition, it will improve the likelihood of the receipt of more funding for successfully implemented programs.
Written by : Sherita Brace