(This post was collaboratively written with Jonathan Weldon ...using a shared folder in....Evernote!)
In case you've never heard of Evernote this blog post is written from the perspective of a couple Inbox Zero & GTD geeks who are just as likely to be discussing the latest keyboard shortcut or productivity trick as we are where the next happy hour is. While we like to think of ourselves as early adopters, Evernote was recently named Company of the Year by Inc. Magazine and with more than 20 million users, it’s pretty mainstream. While Convio is not affiliated with or a partner of Evernote in any way, both of us are passionate about nonprofits and technology and thought we’d share a few ideas about how this application can help nonprofit professionals.
Why is Evernote Important?
A key aspect of any nonprofit’s operations is storing and sharing information related to their mission, programs, outreach, and funding. You are probably all too aware that tracking this information is becoming increasingly complex. Convio has developed tools to help organizations track and act on information related to constituents’ relationships (CRM) and online engagement. There is another type of information and memory management that relates to the everyday memories and knowledge management of your staff, volunteers, and other supporters.
Visit Evernote’s website and you will be greeted with a simple statement: “Remember Everything.” A few key features of the tool include: syncing across devices, handwriting and text recognition, version tracking, photo and audio notes. There are too many amazing highlights to try to describe here, but this 2 min video gives a great overview!
The following ideas are just a few of the ways that we thought different teams in an organization could use Evernote as a tool to support their roles. If you have other use cases, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.
Volunteer & Event Management
Mission & Marketing
Fundraising and Development
Ultimately, Evernote gets more useful the more information you put in it, so hopefully you found this post helpful and will consider giving Evernote a try. To reiterate, Convio is not partnered with Evernote, we are just a couple of avid users and wanted to take this opportunity to share our ideas on how your organizations could utilize this fantastic tool in your day-to-day business. We are sure there are many more awesome, and even obvious, ways of how Evernote could be used by nonprofit organizations, so please use the comments to let us know how you're currently using Evernote or perhaps how you could put Evernote to work for you.
Convio and eleven other organizations recently joined forces to create the first-ever Integrated Marketing Advisory Board (IMAB) for the nonprofit sector. Organizations participating in IMAB with Convio are: Amergent; Avalon Consulting Group; Barton Cotton; CDR Fundraising Group; Donordigital; Grizzard Communications; hjc; Merkle; Russ Reid; SCA Direct; THD. Now, you may look at that list and say, “Wow, don’t they all compete?” and the answer would be, “Yes, we do”. But that’s the beauty of this group—we are leaving that at the door and really working together to try and advance what ALL of us feel is a critical factor for success for our nonprofit clients. And we recognize that the sum of our knowledge is far more powerful than each of us as individual organizations.
As IMAB Chairman Michael Johnston of hjc says, “Integrated marketing is quickly emerging as an essential approach to constituent engagement for nonprofits. With the advent of social media and mobile technologies, more and more donors, volunteers and advocates are using multiple channels to interact with the nonprofits they support. It’s critical for nonprofits to understand those different channels, the relationships across those channels and to engage with their supporters across multiple channels.”
Convio’s recent survey, Integrated Multi-Channel Marketing, supports Michael’s statement. In the survey we found that organization size and integrated marketing sophistication do not correlate, and that leadership focus, the right metrics, processes and technology are essential to success.
A main component of IMAB is our blog. There my fellow board members and I aim to foster discussion and dialogue across the sector, and provide insights into integrated marketing and outline the tools and channels to get the job done. At the end of the day, we want it to be the go-to resource on integrated marketing for the nonprofit sector.
My first IMAB blog post is the tale of two retailers: one that can’t remember that my husband and I have different last names and one that can. You guess which one my Visa bill is more loyal to. The lesson, as I state in my post, is: “a commitment to building an integrated marketing experience and really understanding your buyers or donors is the best investment you can make in long term marketing return and customer loyalty.”
Read more and start sharing your ideas about integrated marketing by visiting the IMAB blog.
Two words a board chair never wants to hear from their ED. Few things can be as disruptive to an organizations success as an Executive Director transition. The staff may be crushed. Your board chair will likely feel horrible this happened on their watch. Mine did three years ago when I told my board chair that after 12 years at the helm I was leaving the organization.
I’m not alone. According to the 2011 Daring to Lead report, 34% of nonprofit executives will depart within 2 years. You might be surprised to learn that your for-profit leadership peers were pegged at lower attrition, only 25% according to the Corporate Executive Board. What’s really shocking is only 17% of organizations have a documented succession plan.
Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn but I do not always like being taught.” Leadership transitions are painful but they can teach us a lot. People change jobs; it’s a fact of life. How can you be prepared?
5 simple steps to take now:
Feel prepared? Take my colleague Jennifer Darrouzet’s “7 questions” quiz to see if your organization can pass the test!
The first step in starting to measure your impact is to identify the major outcomes that you want to examine. In order to be successful in this step you will need full management support and a dedicated key project lead for your team. This person will take the helm on laying out tasks in a sequence, informing other staff of their roles and assignments, and providing assistance to people as they complete their parts of the evaluation.
The standard nonprofit data points come from fundraising, communications, programs, and finance so consider these sources when gathering your team.
The standard nonprofit data points come from fundraising, communications, programs, and finance so consider these sources when gathering your team. For example, a representative from the fundraising department can make sure you consider when your funders’ reporting cycles are so that you are producing outcome measurement results at a time that aligns with their requests for information about your programs. Also, those most directly affected should provide meaningful participation, so don’t forget about your front-line staff directly involved in providing services.
Next you will want to select the outcomes that you want to examine and prioritize them. For each outcome, specify what observable measures, or indicators, will suggest that you're achieving that key outcome for impact. After you have made your selection you can then identify what information is needed to show these indicators.
There are many types of technology and other management tools available to assist in this process, and now is the time to take stock of your technology and the tools you are going to use to track your data. Decide how information can be efficiently and realistically gathered utilizing the different methods that are best for your organization including:
After the data is collected, organize the information into similar categories (i.e. concerns, suggestions, strengths, etc.). From here you can identify patterns and themes to help you categorize and analyze data according to the indicators for each outcome.
This article, originally appearing in NTEN: Change, is by Julie Macalik, Project Manager with KELL Partners, a Convio partner. Prior to joining KELL Partners, Julie worked for Greenlights for Nonprofit Success. Continue reading this article, which includes more resources and tips, when you subscribe to NTEN:Change for free!
It is practically cliche to say that "nonprofits should be run more like businesses". While there is some wisdom hiding in this phrase, it has always seemed vague at best, if not patronizing or even misguided. Why is that a good idea? What would it mean in practice? At last, we have some compelling answers from someone who knows what they're talking about.
Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity is Mario Morino's call to action for nonprofit leaders and funders. There is something worth reading here for almost anyone involved in the social sector, whether nonprofit staff, leadership, board, donor, foundation, or even volunteers. The questions Morino poses will hopefully make you see your work in a new way, and may open up new dialogs between funders and organizations, and between organizations and the people they serve.
Morino sees a number of forces threatening the effectiveness of most nonprofits and the people they serve:
* Public sector funds are being slashed; safety net programs are threatened.
* Demands for many nonprofit services are growing, due to economic distress.
* Nonprofits don't always have good data to manage from, or the skills to use it, and may rely on intuition and anecdote instead.
* Funders want more transparency into the real impact of their investments.
The way to meet these challenges, according to Morino, is for all the players in the social sector to adopt a framework of "Managing to Outcomes". In particular, Morino believes nonprofits must reach clarity on what change they're trying to create, acquire specificity on how they will accomplish that change, determine what information they need to track how they're doing, and then use this feedback to make continuous improvements.
Morino also lays down some challenges for funders. "We funders need to help our grantees define, create, and use the information they need to be disciplined managers," says Morino, "rather than foisting unfunded, often simplistic, self-serving mandates on our grantees." In particular, he points out that when funders insist that every dollar go only to programs, they starve their grantees of the operational support they need to become more effective. Unfortunately, many nonprofits jump through reporting hoops set by funders, but that data is often not used by the nonprofit itself to improve program outcomes. This risks bureaucratic waste on one side, and hollow self-justification on the other.
This well-edited volume is slim but packed with useful examples and exercises. Morino speaks with candor from nearly two decades as a pioneer in venture philanthropy and outcome-based management. He and his co-authors offer candid and nuanced reflections on what has worked and what hasn't, and incorporate those lessons learned into a framework for action. Leap of Reason and its companion site provide a gateway to resources that can help nonprofits start Managing to Outcomes, and hopefully do more with less.
What do you think? Can "Manage to Outcomes" displace the "run your nonprofit like a business" meme?
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