by Paul Diaz, Vice President Policy, Public Interest Registry
There’s a lot of wisdom in this legendary Rolling Stones lyric: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”
This sentiment is especially relevant for .ORGs looking to resource a growing mission-based organization. According to Classy, to grow your non-profit you need to think big and execute smart: “This first strategy is all about being practical today to achieve your long-term aspirations. Practicality doesn’t have to be a dream buster.” And even if you can’t get “satisfaction” on everything on your resources list, here are some practical ways to resource as you grow, with a little help from a few classic rock icons.
If you’re at a place where you’re trying to expand your .ORG, congratulations! You’ve already had an impact on those around you and the communities you serve. Now, help them help you. While not everyone will be able to give back in terms of financial support, many will be willing to offer their time, services, products, expertise, venues, and more, free of charge. These “in-kind” donations can be low-hanging fruit, requiring minimal effort to obtain, and could pay off in big ways.
According to DonorBox, “The more in-kind donations you can secure for helping deliver a fundraising event or pay for construction work, the less you’ll need to dip into your organization’s budget or seek a substantial amount of grant funding. And this can free up extra funds that can be used elsewhere to further your cause.”
And few are in a better position to do that than your board of directors.
“Hold On Loosely”
Nurturing and leveraging the relationships of your board of directors is key to resourcing your growing .ORG. Remember, their primary purpose is to make sure your mission is accomplished. Board members can be especially helpful for understaffed organizations or those with limited staffing budgets. They often have useful connections to organizations and individuals who can help fill in the gaps when you need guidance, funds, or extra support. They can collaborate and share the work (and potential burden) of specific projects and initiatives.
In her article for Philanthropy News Digest, the Kessler Foundation’s Elaine Katz writes about the value-add of strategic collaborations and teaming up with partners who have intersecting objectives: “The beauty of the approach is that it increases opportunities to leverage limited resources and contributes to the development of learning networks through which partners can share valuable information and solutions,” Katz says.
Another best practice for growing a .ORG is to get technical.
“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”
You’ve worked hard building your non-profit to this point. A powerful way to take it to the next level is to bring new tech to the table. Tech advancements can make work easier and improve efficiency in several ways. Programs and apps can lessen the load on individuals and cut costs, giving you time and money to strategize and invest beyond the essential needs of the organization. Depending on your mission and goals, communication and project management platforms like Slack and Asana, graphic design apps from Canva and Adobe, email marketing software such as MailChimp, and a plethora of online fundraising systems are game changers when it comes to doing more with less. Many of these tools, including Google Workspace, are free or available at major discounts to non-profit organizations. Techsoup also rounds up available discounts on donated hardware such as refurbished computers, hotspots, servers, as well as IT assistance.
Now, it’s time to get further rewarded for the good work you do.
“Money for Nothing”
Tech isn’t the only realm where you can get more .ORG resource bang for your buck. Businesses and retailers don’t always advertise deals for good-doers but check out this list of non-profit discounts on products and services that can make your organization run more efficiently and smoothly. When shopping online or in-person for things like office supplies, check here for membership cards and other privileges for non-profits. Likewise, when inquiring about professional services such as legal advice, for example, it never hurts to ask about special rates.
As far as actual dollars coming in and going out, when it comes to resourcing as you grow, it’s important to have a budget—however big or small—and stick to it. In this piece on Classy, Allison Gauss advocates the SMART method to create reasonable fundraising goals: those that are Specific, Measurable, Ambitious/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. If you don’t have the capacity to launch a major fundraising campaign or solicit new high-level donors, for example, don’t overextend your resources. Consider creative ways to incorporate small donation asks into other communications you’re already sending. It’s a two bird, one (rolling) stone, and all-around budget-friendly approach to help you get what you want and need. Above all, remember that you and your growing team are human. Being intentional when it comes to work-life balance, according to Classy and OECD Better Life Index, helps preserve your most precious resources as you grow—the human ones.