nonprofits survive and grow

Strategies for nonprofits to survive and grow

The economic downturn largely driven by the current pandemic (covid-19) is making it even more difficult for nonprofits to stay afloat . More than ever before these organisations are forced to explore novel ways to protect the interests of its customers, members, beneficiaries , donors and staff. The immediate need is to formulate strategies to avoid the contraction of operations and to stay aligned with the organisations original vision.

That being said, this could also be a great time to seriously challenge the vision and see if it is still relevant especially in a post covid-19 world. There could also be opportunities for growth if the current situation can be carefully scrutinised. Sometimes it takes a pandemic or a catastrophic event to change the way we think. So leave no stone unturned in your quest to survive and grow during these challenging times. The following is a list of our thoughts (grouped for easy reference but intertwined in actual operation) to put you in a better place not only to survive but also to grow even in these uncertain times;

Nonprofit Engagement Strategies

Engagement is key in retaining your customers, members and donors. The more they stay engaged the less contraction of operations happens. Engagement also breeds growth in many ways. So what can you do to keep your important stakeholders engaged?;

Incentivise your current customers / members for their loyalty. Be creative.
Have regular touch points with all your stakeholders via virtual events, messaging, Q&A, collaboration, surveys and other initiatives unique to your organisation and the domain you represent. Try to stick to the pre-covid organisational calendar with minimum deviation and disruption. Show that it’s business as usual. Project resilience, stability and a progressive outlook to your stakeholders. Look at increasing interaction leveraging your global partner SMEs on topics that matters to your customers/members. Some of these SMEs might even agree to contribute pro-bono.
Organise competitions amongst the membership with real rewards either tied to their membership fee or some other form of benefit relevant to their engagement with your organisation.
Look at the possibility of assigning suitable work to your members or customers for reward so that both parties get the benefit. You get the work done, increase engagement and your member / customer get’s to substitute payment with work.
Use the website click behaviour, surveys and other such tools to find out what interest your member/customer base and how you can curate, organise, position and present content in a manner that enriches their experience.

Access to resources

In the current climate with physical distancing measures still in place most nonprofits where the staff was colocated in offices are now forced to work remotely. No one expected this so for most people it takes a bit of getting used to. To put productive hours, staff in these organisations needs access to the resources they previously had at office, but now it requires those resources to be accessed from anywhere – driven by WFH requirements, anytime – to allow rostering and other staff schedules and any device – to counter the challenges of giving everyone a laptop or desktop to take home. To retain productivity and increase it where possible the following would help;

Ensure your digital assets are accessible from anywhere, anytime and any device.
User education is key. As most of your employees would be wired to carryout their daily activities in a particular manner from office. Help them through what the changes means and what the new ways of accessing resources looks like – from connecting their device to fulfilling their work commitments.
Your organisation’s HR, IT and other relevant policies might need a review and updates. And based on the changes the affected parties would need to be advised of the changes and what they means in terms of responsibilities.
If your organisation’s digital assets are already in the cloud things would be easier as your users would be able to access them easily and might already know how – at least some of your staff, who in turn will be able to assist other colleagues. If not this would be something that you would need to seriously explore. Do a TOC and benefits analysis of On-premise Vs Cloud.

Ease of collaboration

Collaboration previously done through in person meetings between staff and other stakeholders had now become more or less 100% virtual exercise. So what’s the best way to approach this? Our view is that the following would help;

To deliver member/customer initiatives successfully you need a heightened level of collaboration between teams within the organisation as well as various third-parties. This is normally addressed via the organisation communication strategy. If you have one it might need to be reviewed and updated to suit the current and future needs. If you don’t it’s time you develop one.
It would also be prudent to educate the staff about the changes inline with the updated communications strategy to the new way they would collaborate with everyone else, access to tools and other helpful information to have a smooth transition for themselves and others external to the organisation.
Implement roles and responsibilities to effectively manage the updated collaboration framework. Also affect further changes where required as no strategy or framework is foolproof and set in stone.
Send clear communications to third-parties of the changes and offer assistance where required to achieve seamless collaboration through the new framework.
Also look at if any of the SOPs needs changing and if so, effect timely change and communicate those to all parties involved or effected by it.

Service fulfilment

It’s vital that you maintain trust and being reliable to your important stakeholders by fulfilling your customer/member services request ahead of guarantees where you can with minimal or no ruffles even in these challenging times. It’s paramount that you are contactable and more responsive to address customer/member questions and fulfil their service requests faster than before. Here are some of our thoughts;

Establish, communicate and execute service response and resolution levels for requests received via email, phone, social media and other channels you had provisioned with/to your customers.
Implement Robochat / Virtual assistant to provide another level of support to your customers.
Establish a comprehensive up-to-date knowledge base / FAQ where stakeholders (internal / external) can use as their first port of call before firing a request to your service desk. Done right this also could help you with the service request demand management.
Have a proactive approach to service fulfilment where you look at the current situation as an example and it’s affect to your customers and other support parties and address them even before your customer lodged a service request. You should also keep everyone affected of the issue, steps take to resolve, time-to-resolution notified via regular communications right throughout the life cycle.
Integrate your communication channels with your enterprise systems (CRM, FMS, ERP, Sales/Marketing Tools) so that when a customer contacts you, you have all relevant information to hand in front of you and would have a good idea what the call is about. This gives you a chance to wow your customer with quick responses and viable resolution options.

Cyber security

If your systems go down , performance degraded or exposed to threats that would not sit well with your customers and members. And their confidence of your systems and organisation as a whole to safeguard their sensitive information will have a very negative outcome for you as the custodian of their information, not forgetting potential legal implications. Also there are many challenges and risks of allowing your staff to access organisation digital assets from less secure home wifi networks which needs to be addressed in a timely manner. Here is a list of things we think would help you get there;

Ensure your privacy policies and other such are carefully reviewed and updated as required to safeguard your organisation, customers and all other stakeholders. Also look at preventive measures already implemented and see if they are sufficient. Any changes to these policies also need to me communicated to all affected and participating stakeholders in a timely manner.
User education is key and especially since the organisation doesn’t own the users home network to keep the user interactions with organisation digital assets secure. Look at rolling out automatic security validation & authorisation mechanisms for users to comply before they will be allowed to connect to your organisation network from a remote location.
Enterprise user access review and update policies where required with added layers of security.
Use of VPN’s where appropriate. And getting the users to access their office computer remotely using secure means where possible.
Complete a vulnerability assessment of your enterprise digital assets and implement recommended corrective and preventive measures in a timely manner.

Here to help

We are happy to work with you to plan and execute a tailored response to help avoid contraction and achieve your growth aspirations even during these unprecedented times. So please don’t hesitate to contact us for next steps…

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