Who holds the keys to change?

Getting change to occur in any organisation is difficult. Often it seems even more so in the NFP/charity sector. We explore some of the reasons why and seek to answer the question; “Who holds the most effective keys to facilitating change.”

If you’re involved in the charity/non-profit sector, this piece by Craig Fisher of RSM Hayes Audit is worth a read.


We all know the truism that “change is constant”.  And it is.  However in many organisations, being able to instigate change, or effectively respond to change, is often very difficult.  Generally the barrier to change is not the nature of the changes needed, but rather the emotional or human barriers to accepting the need and then moving to doing something about it.

Interestingly this situation is usually more pronounced in NFP organisations than it is in For-Profit organisations.   This is understandable when you consider some of the key differences between the two types of organisations.  This includes that most For-Profit organisations are generally more command and control in operational style, and more binary in their decision making, i.e. the driver for most decisions are: Will this make us more money – yes or no?

NFPs by contrast are commonly much softer in governance and management style because they often involve elements of volunteering and social motivation, as well as being driven more by service delivery rather than a single minded financial profit driver like the majority of For-Profit businesses.

Sadly however this can translate into NFPs being much more inefficient in how they do what they do, and much more resistant to change.  By not being forced to innovate as much as many For-Profit entities they can become flabby and inefficient.  Conversely, some NFPs are too lean, such that innovation is unable to flourish through lack of skills, time and resources.

Ironically though given the above, in times of financial crises or stress it is usually NFPs that will survive, or survive longer than many For-Profits.  Even though they don’t have the same single minded focus on their financial bottom line and financial sustainability, when times get tough their key stakeholders will generally support them “just enough” so they can struggle on.  Whereas by contrast, the situation for companies is much more binary; they either make enough money to stay in business or they go out of business.

Related to the above is the concept that; starvation often forces innovation.  And those that don’t innovate generally decline.

Continue Reading here

Public Perception of Charities

Often we hear (still) about people having concerns about charities, especially around whether an organisation is genuine, that it’s being managed appropriately and that funds are being used for what they’re intended.

Even if a single person has concerns about an organisation and raises this in a public way, either just with friends or on their social media pages it can have an impact on the sector as a whole, but more importantly on that one individual charity they are “speaking” about.

One of the often cited issues people have is the level of remuneration of those running an organisation, as well as the costs associated with running the organisation in general.

People don’t always appreciate that having the right people at the helm can require a higher than expected remuneration package; with people thinking why should I give to an organisation where the CEO etc. are earning more than them.

Organisations are constantly looking for ways to keep their costs down, using volunteers and networks to source resources and funds that can be used to help generate additional income at little or no cost to the organisation.

Listen to what donors and potential supporters ask when being approached for donations; often they’ll ask “how much of my donation will get to where it’s needed?” or, “what percentage of my donation is absorbed in operational costs?”

We all know it takes money to run an organisation, what needs to happen is for organisations to simply show how money is being used, this could be included in updates to supporters and, on organisations websites.

Supporters (in New Zealand) are able to readily access financial information about any registered charity through the Charity Services website. The information available shows (in most cases) the cost of fundraising, total salaries and a myriad of other information. Organisations need to not expect supporters to go searching, they need to be more open and make this information readily available, either in its entirety or in graph form to demonstrate that funds are being used appropriately and in doing so make it easier for people to make the decision to support.

Supporters in New Zealand have a wide choice of organisations they can support, with in excess of 27,000 registered charities, that’s about one registered charity for every 162 per person. By making information more readily available your organisation could see new supporters coming on board with little effort needed on your part; all you need to do is be transparent.

With reports such as Public trust and confidence in charities being published it’s time for organisations to spend time to look at themselves and see if they are meeting the expectations of the public.

So, before you start your next fundraising drive, make information your supporters (current and potential) need to make the decision to support easily accessible, demonstrate that you are using funds prudently.

Are you sharing the information people want, or just showing them what you want them to see?

As a supporter, do you want to know your money is being used appropriately before supporting or continuing support?

See also
Fundraising Costs

Being an Open Book

Increase Your Revenue from Your Donors

To Incentivise or Not

When is a charity a charity

Money isn’t Everything

Public trust and Confidence in Charities (Survey Results)

Annual Reports – Print or Online

How do you share your Annual Report? 

Recently I contributed “Annual Reports – Print or Online” to the 101Fundariaing blog, have a read, I’m interested to know your comments, how you share your report and what your current (and prospective) supporters want.

Annual reports and how they’re distributed should be included in your annual communication plan and not left until the report is due to be released, which sadly can be the case in many organizations.

Supporters, current and potential, want to know about your organization, they want to know what you have been doing, where the resources have been allocated and they don’t want to have to wade through reams of paper to get the answers.

With internet being widely used it makes sense for organizations to make use of it to share not only what they do, but also share their annual reports and much more.

Perhaps you don’t want to upload the entire report, that’s ok, you can upload highlights from the report:
Executive Summary

It’s all part of being open, accessible and giving your supporters what they want.

Read full blog here

While we’re looking at Annual Reports it’s worth having a look at 6 New Ideas for Your Next Annual Report, which talks about what you could include in your report:

Explain Your Programs In an Infographic
Use an infographic to explain in a visual way how a beneficiary/client encounters your work and the process they go through by participating in your programs.

Show Cause and Effect Images
Think about creating an image timeline of a beneficiary. Take a page and devote it to a group of people you helped and show several images of them with pull quotes describing the various interventions of your programs. One photo is great; several showing that beneficiary change is impactful.

Describe Your Future Needs
Yes this is an annual report, but you have an opportunity to talk about how your past work builds upon what you need this year.

Use a Map
Create a map detailing the scope of your work. Even if you are local or neighborhood based grassroots organization, create a map that shows where the people are that you serve.

Make It Come Alive with Video
Within the report use still clips of videos they can find online. Throughout the document use the clips and quotes from videos to tell the story of your impact. This is a great opportunity to pull the individual to your site and view the complete video online.

Think Social
Incorporate what your followers and friends are saying about your work. Highlight tweets, posts, and other social media content in the annual report. Place these next to event photos, impact pictures, and other images showing the organization’s role in the community.


How will you share your next annual report, and what will you include in it?

As a supporter what do you want to see in the next annual report from the organization you support?