Posts Tagged ‘Nonprofit Best Practices’

Non Profits Analyzing Data to Gain Support

Friday, August 24th, 2012

employee screening, pre-employment screening, employee credit checkBusiness analytics is commonplace in for-profit entities. Gathering data, crunching numbers and spotting trends can improve operations and increase profits. Increasingly, nonprofits are using analytics to determine what they are doing well and what needs to be improved.

At the same time, government agencies, charitable and corporate foundations, and individuals have been taking more care with their donations, asking for evidence that nonprofits are fulfilling their missions, and are therefore worthy of support. Analytics enables nonprofits to provide the data that proves their success.

Keeping detailed databases on clients served and their outcomes are helping nonprofits approach their missions in a more business-like fashion. Where once paper records sufficed, now sophisticated software is tracking clients, measuring progress and assessing impact.

Data systems capable of delivering such insights are not cheap; nor is the staff required to run them and interpret the results. Similarly, independent impact studies can cost more than many nonprofit agencies can spare. However, knowing whether or not your agency is meeting its objectives is fundamental to its existence.

Plus, discovering the hidden gems in data can help re-establish an agency’s focus. For example, if data shows that access to low-cost or free child increases the success rate of parents pursuing GEDs, then an organization can focus on putting together a child care program, as well as preparing students for exams.

Data can also attract new investment from donors. It’s essential to show donors that the work you’re doing is making a real difference. In terms of hard numbers, giving them a black-and-white picture of the return on their investment can make a huge difference.

To attract donors and improve performance, nonprofits need to act more like businesses and demonstrate tangible results. While it may be more difficult to measure social change than corporate profits, it can be done. Tracking participation and results can be accomplished through simple databases, like Microsoft Access, or through more sophisticated database management systems. Give it a try, and you may be surprised at the results you see over the next six months or year.

Can you trust every person who volunteers for your agency? Conduct background checks on all volunteers. Rely on for your volunteer screening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Creating and Expanding Successful Older Volunteer Programs

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

volunteer screeningThe National Council on Aging is embarking on a multi-sector partnership initiative to increase the numbers of senior volunteers, with the goal of engaging generations to help each other.

With help from the U.S. Administration on Aging, Atlantic Philanthropies, MetLife Foundation, and Corporation for National and Community Service, the NCOA is working with local organizations to create model older adult volunteer programs to share with other organizations in their communities.

Included are model programs for grandparents raising grandchildren; parents raising children with special needs; and caregivers of frail older adults.

As non profit budgets continue to take a hit even as demand for their services increase in this economy, the need for volunteers is higher than ever. To encourage non profits to tap into the talents and extra time of older volunteers, the NCOA began the Multi-Generational and Civic Engagement Initiative. It identified four key elements for success for other community organizations to aspire to:

  1. Effectiveness
  2. Impact
  3. Sustainability
  4. Replicability

Identifying these four common characteristics of exceptional older adult volunteer programs makes it easier to create standards that other non profits can mimic for better chances of success. Six organizations from New Jersey to Oregon were awarded grants to help them replicate their programs in their communities.

Yesterday, in Washington, DC the MGCE summit took place, where the organizations shared their successes and plans for the future. Innovative, cooperative programs like this are just what non profits need to help them deliver services to meet expanding needs.

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

New Survey Reveals Higher 2010 Revenues for Nonprofits

Friday, February 25th, 2011

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkA recent survey of nonprofit executive directors revealed that half had seen their revenues increase last year. The report, released by the Bridgespan Group, also said that out of 102 EDs surveyed, 60% are actively seeking talent to hire, compared to 31% the previous year.

This is good news for nonprofits everywhere. While the survey sample is not a huge number, it does indicate that things are starting to look up for nonprofits after a few very tough years.

The survey reports:

  • 32% of respondents said their organization faced funding cuts in 2010, compared to 80% in 2009
  • Of these, only half experienced cuts greater than 10%; in 2009, 77% of funding cuts exceeded 10%
  • Half of nonprofits responding said they had seen an increase in revenues over the past year
  • Most of those experiencing growth saw increases of 10% of more (63%), while 29% experienced 20% increases or more

Nonprofits Try New Strategies in Challenging Economic Times
The nonprofits that experienced growth often implemented new strategies, including:

  • 84% of higher-revenue nonprofits developed contingency plans
  • 94% of increasing-revenue nonprofits increased efforts to accurately measure outcomes
  • 59% of nonprofits with increased revenues nonprofits created a communications plan that addressed recession-related issues, compared to only 43% of declining-revenue organizations
  • 22% of nonprofits that saw revenues increase participated in some form of collaboration with other nonprofits

It’s certainly good to report some positive news about nonprofit revenues. Not only has the rate of declining revenue slowed, the size of cuts have also decreased.

Volunteer Management Best Practices: Part II

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

As promised, we continue to offer some best practices tips for volunteer managers. Increase efficiency and stay organized with tips from both the for-profit business sector and other nonprofit organizations.

1. Develop a Volunteer Acquisition Plan: Plans help you keep on goal; your volunteer recruitment efforts will be much more effective if you plan carefully. First, determine how many volunteers you need for each project, ongoing tasks, and events you have in a typical period—one month, six months, one year. Then decide the level of experience you need from your volunteers. Do you need special training, like food service, catering, accounting, truck driving, or traffic control? Or is the project something that is suitable for a family with small children?

Next, make a list of former volunteers, current supporters, and even your friends and business contacts who possess the desired training or expertise. Contact them and ask for their help. Be sure to clearly define your needs, expectations, and their time commitment.

2. Protect your Organization from Legal Harm: As a volunteer manager, you must be as aware of employment laws as any human resource manager. If you lack training in this area, research training opportunities or enlist the help of an HR Law professional for guidance. Some of the applicable federal land state laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (which covers volunteer background screening and credit checks), and anti-discrimination legislation like Equal Employment Opportunity.

Keep staff, served populations and other volunteers safe and your organization out of legal trouble by carefully screening all volunteers. Review insurance policies annually to be sure volunteers are covered when working for your organization. Don’t wait until after a volunteer suffers an injury to find out you are under-insured.

3. Keep Excellent Records: Many organizations are required to track volunteer time. If you are not required, it is still a good idea to do so. Whether you obtain specialized computer software to help, or use simple spreadsheets, it’s vital to keep track of volunteer contact information, interests and abilities, projects assigned and completed, and notes regarding successes and challenges. These notes  will come in handy when conducting evaluations or when your organization is required to report to state or federal officials. If you are challenged for time to track volunteer activity, assign the task to a volunteer.

4. Be Flexible: The ability to switch hats, courses of action, and gears is a valuable one for volunteer managers. If a volunteer is having trouble with a project, losing interest in the organization, or not working out as well as you’d hoped, be ready to communicate, evaluate, and act accordingly. If your volunteer recruitment plan isn’t working as well as you need it to, double your efforts, ask a mentor for help, or simply change your approach. Try spreading the word with social media or free online ads like Craigslist.

Borrowing good management practices from others is an easy way to implement procedures that really work—and can save you valuable time!

Volunteer Management Best Practices: Part I

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Sometimes it’s easier to follow established procedures, rather than starting your own. This is especially true if you’re a newer nonprofit volunteer manager. If you’ve inherited your role, or if the volunteer manager job begins with you, increase efficiency and stay organized by adopting procedures that are already proven effective.

Some of these tips come from the for-profit business sector, while others are unique to nonprofit organizations. Gather them into your own handbook and your organization will be better for it.

1. Establish Clear Communication with your Volunteers: Good communication begins the day your volunteers inquire about offering their services. Know whether or not you are currently accepting volunteer applicants. If so, let people know exactly what positions you have open, whether they are short- or long-term, and how many hours per week they require. Ask your volunteer applicant appropriate questions to guage both their areas of interest and their skill sets.

Make sure your applications are clearly written, detailing what is expected of all volunteers, as well as how the volunteer’s personal information will be used. If your charity requires volunteers to undergo background screening, state it on your application; you’ll need the person’s permission to start the process.

2. Provide proper training, if required. In a perfect volunteer situation, the skills you need are perfectly suited to a particular voluntneer, who jumps in with both feet. In the real world, you’ll at least need to orient each volunteer to your organization’s way of operating, your mission and goals, and the details of their position. Proper training will lead to a much more successful relationship with your volunteers. They’ll be happier, and more enthusiastic to return to help you again.

3. Feedback and Evaluations: Whether a new or long-serving volunteer, take a cue from employers and provide regular, formal feedback. Semi-annual or annual evaluations can be a great way to set aside time for one-on-one discussions. Since it’s a volunteer position, you as manager might provide feedback more like a coach, rather than an employer. Ask your volunteers to evaluate the organization—and you.

4. Manage Projects According to Volunteer Abilities: It only makes sense to avoid placing new volunteers in leadership positions—at least until you’ve been able to observe them performing assigned tasks. If you have a natural leader or experienced business owner or manager among your new volunteer recruits, they may be more ready to assume responsibility. Ask your longer-term volunteers if they’re ready to take on a leadership role in training or leading other groups of volunteers. They could make your job much easier!

Look for Volunteer Management Best Practices: Part II right here next week.

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with background checks.