One thing I think C3 (my org) does well is that we take a lot of short, successful hops. Yes, were making a difference against colorectal cancer, and thats ultimately our big-picture goal. But were getting there with a series of small steps.
Every November we meet for a strategic retreat where we look (briefly) at where weve been, analyze where we are, and make a plan for next year. Each year, by the end of the retreat weve come away with very clear ideas of what has to be done to help us move forward in our mission, and each year weve managed to accomplish the goal we set. Our wonderful Answer Line came out of one years retreat. We dont resolve to cure colorectal cancer in a year; instead we resolve to chip away at a very specific, very targeted part of the rock that needs banging on.
In addition to moving towards our objective, we also have to make sure people understand and appreciate the benefit of the short gain. Why it matters that theres federal colorectal cancer screening legislation. Why it matters that the patient voice is heard by the medical community. That treatments dont magically spring out of research alone.
2009 is going to be an interesting year. Its not about raising more funds, its about raising enough funds. Enough funds to win the small, measured victory and build towards the larger ones.
This year, I think the watch word for smaller nonprofits will be: segmentation. A resolution, if you will. That is what is going to separate those who make it from those who dont. The larger nonprofits seem to have it down pat. The smaller ones, not so much. Were not trying to figure out how to tell people what they want to hear. We want to figure out how to do a better job letting people know who we are and why we matter in a way theyll listen.
It has always bothered me that nonprofits are measured in dollars and cents, and that were all lumped into the same pot. Do you want to feed the homeless or cure cancer? Give books to needy children or build a performing arts center? We paint nonprofits in broad strokes. Its almost as ridiculous as saying that every geek works in computers.
Its more than separating those who gave $500 from those who live in Kentucky. We have to figure out who is likely to engage online and who isnt (and not just for donations). Who needs a lot of data and background information and who needs us to cut to the chase.
After 3.5 years in business, this is my personal challenge/resolution for 2009: I want to take the technology we already have and use it to help C3 focus our attention on our constituents and supporters as effectively as we focus on what we do to fight colorectal cancer.
Thats my resolution. Of course, this post has nothing to do with this little Convio campaign. Nope, just coincidence.
Here are some other bloggers that are writing their nonprofit resolutions at Convio’s invitation: