Four Keys to Nonprofit Success

Four Keys to Nonprofit Success

I’ve recently read Cecile Richard’s new book, Make Trouble. She offers some simple but great advice for anyone working to start any organization, but I think it’s particularly appropriate for nonprofit organizations. Ms. Richard’s points are: 1. Set concrete goals that can be achieved Too often in nonprofit circles, missions and goals are filled with goals of “transforming lives” or “giving hope.” While these aspirational goals are inspiring, they aren’t concrete. Concrete goals are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive). 2. Be willing to ask for money You’d think this would be a no-brainer in the nonprofit world, but it is amazing how often we hear about Executive Directors or Board members who are scared to ask for money. I love Richard’s approach to fundraising, that will alleviate some of those fears: “If you ask for money, you will get advice. If you ask for advice you will get money.” This is so simple, but it is critical. Engaging people beyond their pocketbook is the key to getting into their pocketbook. 3. Take big risks Anyone who has started an organization knows, rightly or wrongly, they ultimately own all of the successes, and of all the failures. So you may as well think big. 4. Master organizational rules Make sure everyone has a voice in every meeting, and make sure they have a specific action item when they leave. And the “small” stuff isn’t small at all (name tags, food, start on-time, end on-time) and most importantly – have fun.   Richards’ main advice is to get involved in this issues that you care about. And if...
Predictions are a Tricky Business

Predictions are a Tricky Business

For all of us who are “March Madness” fans, this is a great article: https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/bracketiq/2018-04-03/ncaa-bracket-was-better-all-rest-2018 Given all the upsets in the first round of the tournament this year, some lucky ESPN entrant, “Che 3”, accurately guessed 80% of the games, including the finals matchup and the eventual winner, Villanova. That’s impressive. Until you realize that there were 17.3 million entrees into the ESPN contest. And the best one was only 80% right. Predicting the future is a tricky business. Joshua Ramos wrote a fascinating novel on the topic called “The Age of the Unthinkable.” Basically, it’s a bunch of case studies on how bad we humans are at predicting the future. Even the really smart humans. https://www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-First-Joshua-Cooper-Ramo/dp/1408700581/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522851729&sr=1-2&keywords=the+age+of+the+unthinkable&dpID=415KoqBr8kL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch Part of what we do at Analytical Ones is to forecast future revenue for nonprofit organizations. And we think we have a pretty good model. But it’s not a perfect model. There are no perfect models, as there are always variables that affect results that are impossible to predict. But we get way closer than 80% with a lot fewer than 17.3 million...