Category Archives: Knowledge management

Productivity, Stewardship, Results: The Donor Centered Charity

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Ya Ya Ya ,,, Change?!! No Way! Barbary Ape Gibraltar

A common theme for charities is staff turnover, lack of productivity and the struggle to maintain donation levels.

We attribute many of these issues to the charity’s ability to create and maintain a high performance work environment.

Like any business, access to tools and information is critical to its function and to those it employs.

Surprisingly few of you reading this will be interested in the how and why, to achieve better results.

The old adage ‘it has always been this way’ is clearly the mantra of common leadership.

This conversation is directed at Executive Directors who want more and are willing to make deceptively easy changes to free up staff time, bring in more dollars and have job satisfaction. You have said ‘We don’t have time to change’.

For some of you this is true. But for a few, this will be a challenge and one where you will rise from surviving to thriving.

There are four requirements:

  1. Leave your ego behind
  2. Be prepared to invest in change
  3. Never say Can’t
  4. Commit to action & implementation

2019 will look and feel and be, different.

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NPO Intelligence

coming March 2019

 

Strong Systems Trump Leadership

Galapagos Islands … Blue Footed Boobies

As a donor do I want to hear my charity of choice proclaim

“We need to clean up our data!”?

Is there something functionally misunderstood in the not for profit community where data, their most valued asset, is given short shrift to other needs?

Is it possible that a more organized and functional method for managing all the information a charity uses to operate successfully, would support all these needs?

Our many years working in the charitable sector has shown us time and again, the negative results of poor information management, lack of training and little staff accountability.

It is interesting to hear that good leadership is the solution when in fact good business practices which outlive staff change, not only supports leadership but is a salve when poor leaders are in place. It’s not our intent to focus on leadership. Good intentions, come in many forms, some are just more effective than others.

It has been our contention for a long while that the charity itself needs to have some requirements built into how it functions, so that it can hire the right people and retain the right methods to support its sustainability.

There are many avenues of information or knowledge which supports a work group. Consider a bank. Does every new accounting clerk change the software to something they are familiar with only to quit in 18 or so months? No. Do tellers change processes that protect the bank from making errors when handling customer deposits and withdrawals? No. Would any change be acceptable where a more effective solution has been in house?

Training is a big area of concern. “Let’s not train our staff and see if they can figure things out.” It’s cheaper than investing to support a knowledgeable work team. Going back to our bank analogy, do they train their staff? Yes. Because someone worked at a different banking organization is that enough to assume they can absorb the differences and function successfully. Maybe or maybe not, but ensuring staff are knowledgeable should be a criteria for success if not greater productivity.

Large shops enjoy the benefit of many staff members taking specific jobs working on focused tasks. Small shops need to have shared job skills to ensure there is quality in the processes and speedbumps are avoided.
So, our bottom line is this. We find the idea that ‘our data is a mess’ is really the outcome of poor management and a lack of understanding of what information and knowledge means to a charity. Anyone can ask for money, but only some can manage the processes around ‘The Ask’ effectively. The charity needs to come forward to define its expectations and instill accountability at all levels.

Join us now and rate your charity’s Chaos Quotient.

Chaos Quotient

Who said we need to use the database … we like spreadsheets and little lists!

1. Database is not being used and donations are being recorded elsewhere.
2. New staff members do not use donor database because senior managers have not mandated its use.
3. Some donor gifts are manually receipted.
4. Special events are handled on spreadsheets.
5. We were unable to invite all previous guests to a special event as lists not recorded in the donor management software were lost.
6. We don’t record how much people spend at the event so we don’t know who the big supporters are.
7. Documents and lists are everywhere, finding what you are looking for is time intensive.
8. Getting a mailing list takes days because information has not been centralized … it’s stored in word processing documents, on spreadsheets, in homemade access databases, on paper, in someone’s smart phone or contact management system, elsewhere?
9. There is no organizational history; we don’t even know who past board members have been.
10. We aren’t accountability for recording touch points with donors, they are non-existent.

Training is a cost. Trial and error produces a creative mix of methods!

1. New staff members are not trained because senior managers don’t mandate training. It is not required.
2. Staff turnover has been an issue and no one can find any contact information on donors or community supporters.
3. The head of fund development left and we are at a loss as to where to begin so we start again.
4. A staff member left who was really good at creating mailing lists, letters and emails. Now, no one knows.
5. Grant proposals have been written. Some were accepted and some were declined. We have tried to find the status of all requests and what is still outstanding.

Controls are not something we are interested in!

1. Software updates have been left undone because no one is responsible for ensuring new versions are up to date.
2. We have donors who have given multi-year pledges, the documentation has been lost.
3. We have donors who pledged but have not paid. We don’t have a follow-up policy to handle this situation so we left it.
Outcomes
1. Fundraising dollars at events have decreased or not increased.
2. The ability to inform donors and the public about the charity is onerous and time consuming.
3. Donors call in and no one can find information on their gifts.
4. One of our big donors called to say they wouldn’t be supporting us in the future.
5. We are in constant scramble mode, and no one is enjoying their job, morale is low, stress is high.

Chaos Scoring

Give yourself 5 points for every Yes. Add your total and this is your CQ%.
• Anything over 30 suggests a problem.
• Over 50 and there is definitely some issues that need addressing.
• After 50, it’s all downhill!

Contact us if you need HELP!

The Knowledge Driven Charity Behoves Donor-Centric Fundraising

temples baganDonor-centric fundraising is all the rage. It makes a great deal of sense. Know who your donors are and why they are motivated to support a charity; ensure their gifts are allocated as requested; do the appropriate stewardship to show the charity understands their giving goals with supporting information. The final piece is the donor’s interest in how the charity runs. Is it efficient? Does it use its time and resources effectively? Is it able to meet its funding goals and are donor dollars well used?

We think this sounds wonderful until we look into how the charity is functioning at a more in depth level. Experience has shown us that many charities use their donor management system for receipting and usually this is tasked to a single individual. Fund development staff is often several steps away from any meaningful interaction with the data other than report requests.

This begs the question, how does a charity employ a donor centric approach to working with its donors under these conditions? A further observation has to do with staff turnover and the effect on information retention, pertaining to interactions with donors which would be used for future fundraising and stewardship support.

Running a charity begins at the top. It is incumbent on senior management to employ a methodology that ensures the best possible care of all types of information a charity needs to support a donor-centric approach to its valued donors. People can and do give their money anywhere they choose to, so what is the best way to influence donors and ensure their interest remains strongly attached to a specific charity? What would you like donors to know about how the charity functions in support of both its goals and those who support them?

Let’s begin with the Knowledge Driven Charity.  First and foremost it will address the capture of important data.  Standards exist which include everything from how to search to ensure a donor record is new to prevent duplication, to how the information is recorded to give maximum benefit to the donor and a fundraising team. Next is the gift and where it is positioned to show donor support. Values like ‘designated’ in the fund field provide little information, so how can the data recorded by appeal or campaign, be entered for maximum effect? This pertains not only to the charity but for the donor as well.

How charity staff work is equally important to a Knowledge Driven Charity. Taking too long to perform a task, being unable to access reports, not knowing how to pull a reasonable export, these are a result of training or the lack thereof. The idea training is expensive is a misconception. What is expensive is guessing how things work and making poor decisions on how to achieve work with charity data.

The Knowledge Driven Charity documents a non-profits’ best practices, describing for staff how to perform jobs recorded in easy to follow and maintain, point form. There is skilled labour in this marketplace so why let these skills leave without an appropriate capture. The time saved by staff and the recognition gained those by those who share their knowledge is of great value to an organization whether for profit or not.

Here’s an example. An engineer firm sent out field managers to check certain aspects of their jobs. One such manager had a check list. He used this list before every trip to ensure he had all the right tools to do whatever was necessary. The other field operatives did not and subsequently wasted company time with trips back and forth to the office to pick up what they forgot.  The solution was simple, the check list was now a company resource and the expectation was that all field managers used it to ensure no more unneeded trips, wasted time and more importantly unneeded cost. In the world of a charity, this might be a word processing skill or who to create a report or how to properly build an in memory campaign. Time is expensive and when it is wasted there is a consequence which impacts productive actions sidelined by waste.

Naysayers will tell you a knowledge approach would be difficult to implement, hard to maintain, too costly for a charity to consider. Our position is that it is not difficult because staff members become the champions of an improved workplace as stress is reduced and productivity soars.  A culture of Plan First is the rally cry. Time is freed up and accountability sets in as ones actions will affect another. ‘Too costly’ is what the charity is currently experiencing through costs associated with busy time.

Write these new methods into the documents that define the charity. Include in all job descriptions specific requirements with consequences to address any laxness that undermines the team.

Implement the Knowledge Driven Charity. Identify the charity’s commitment and share it with donors and funders. Be prepared for the Reaction and for the Results!