Last week, a Tweet I saw really grabbed me – “Underinvesting is expensive! Starving nonprofits leads to inefficient systems.” It was from The Bridgespan Group, a global nonprofit that helps other nonprofits in the hard work of developing strategies.
Working with less means you get less.
For some reason, non-profits are expected to run on a shoestring. Starving nonprofits limits investments in the necessary people and systems to perform effectively.
GuideStar USA, Inc., used the nonprofit data they collect and report to form a business case to help break the “overhead myth” about limiting overhead costs. They offered steps to debunk the myth and shift the conversation from overhead to the need to invest in people and systems.
Five Steps to Debunk the “Overhead Myth”:
- Clearly document objectives and the intended impact of meeting those objectives. This informs donors about your mission and community, and sets the framework for measuring impact.
- Describe the strategies employed to achieve stated objectives and impacts. Donors are more inclined to support nonprofits that connect strategic goals with action plans and expected results.
- Discuss the capacity to deliver the programs and services to meet stated objectives. Describe capacity investments needed to establish and sustain the necessary infrastructure to support programs.
- Tell donors how you measure progress. This communicates that you are monitoring the achievement of your organization’s goals and helps donors trace the impact of their gift.
- Share results from recent work and describe additional results that you want to achieve. Highlighting successful projects illustrates how goals are achieved and helps donors visualize their gift in action.
Charting your non-profit’s objectives and impact, and the investment needed to deliver effective programs debunks the overhead myth. Helping donors understand infrastructure needs will compel them to give.
More tools and information to help non-profits to re-direct donor conversations from the “overhead myth” to performance and results are found at www.overheadmyth.com.