Program Management Tips for Non-Profits
Non-profits differ from corporations due to their mission-driven outlook. Yet, in order for non-profits to be successful, strong program management skills is required. Key components of program management for non-profits encompasses Developing, Planning, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation.
This step is essential and usually consists of a brainstorming session followed by consensus between the project team regarding the objectives of the program. Some methodologies such as SWOT Analysis and Stakeholder Mapping are essential and ought to be utilized during this phase.
During the planning phase, the process for implementing the project is streamlined. Factors such as the skill set required for implementing the project, the timeline, budget, milestones and outcomes are also taken into consideration. Using an action planning chart during this stage will facilitate the attainment of positive results.
This is the point where tangible output can be realized. Knowledge Transfer is crucial at this point as well as regular meetings with team members. An open mind and strong people skills will come in handy at this point too. With strong people skills, the team leader can strengthen relationships and listen closely to suggestions that may be provided during the execution of the project. Some suggestions that can be of immense benefit to the project might otherwise be missed if the the Project leader has poor people skills.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
At this stage, it is important to develop a monitoring framework . This will help in tracking the progress of the project and ensure that goals are achieved in a timely fashion.
Evaluating the project after it has concluded will provide stakeholders with information on the lessons learnt from the project. Ultimately, information gathered at this stage can be factored into the next project.
Written By Sherita N Brace
Sherita N Brace is an International Development Professional and a Blogger. She serves as a Consultant to Non-Profits and provides grant writing services, program planning services and communications services.
1. Practical Project Management for Agile Non-Profits, Karen R.J. White, Pamela Puleo, 2013, Maven House Press.
2. Project Management. Retrieved July 9, 2017 from
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.
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