When there are so many things that need to get done, and so many challenges faced by boards of non-profits, how you do decide which are your top 3 priorities?
Non-profits are facing particular challenges with declining membership as fewer millennials and gen-xers join organizations. So MEMBERSHIP has got to be your #1 priority. Plan your annual renewal campaign carefully to include a variety of touch points: a regular mailed letter followed up by a series of emails with slightly different messaging, followed by a phone call by a member volunteer. After each email blast and before the next one, be sure to clean your email list of members who do renew, so you are not spamming them. Are you creating a pipeline for new members through relationship building with colleges and universities or technical schools related to your profession?
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT or CONTINUING EDUCATION
As a membership organization you represent your profession and are responsible for maintaining the quality of programs, continuing education, and conferences you provide to your members. Members first, everyone else second. And you can make all your programs available to everyone who is a not member, for a fee, of course. Do you re-purpose your live programs? That means, are you audio recording or videotaping so other members and non-members can hear/see the programs? If you don’t re-purpose, you are losing a good source of valuable content and non-member dues revenue. Make sure you get permission from speakers before recording.
What organization does not want to be financially stable? Get a handle on all your expenses, fixed and variable, necessary and “nice to have”. Prune excess fat from programs or staff or frills, if possible. No one likes to let staff go no one wants to sunset a program. But cutting your budget across the board by 5% or 10% is not the answer. Take a good look at the programs, whom do they serve, how many people do they serve, what are the results, what are the benefits. If a program is no longer necessary, or the expense outweighs the impact, cut it. Analyze your various channels of communication. Are you still creating thousands of print media, printed journals, printed newsletters and print advertisements? Which ones are absolutely necessary? Or which ones can be printed in smaller quantities to serve the segment of your membership that does not like online information? Or which ones can be eliminated altogether and replaced with a postcard reminder with a website address? Look at your space – is it too large for your needs? Can you find smaller, less expensive space? Or, if your lease is very long, can you sub-let a portion of the space to other organizations for offices and meeting rooms?
How are you staffed? Do you have the right mix of skills from staff to meet your needs? Can you provide a mix of staff and volunteers to provide needed programming and oversight? See whether you can streamline processes and use technology, or outsource a function, then you can save money and increase effectiveness.