Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

“It starts at the top” The Importance of Educating the Board on Donor Expectations

Jo-BNE

Author:Jo Garner

 

When speaking to CEOs and Fundraising Directors about their prospective investment in implementation and development of a proactive fundraising and business development strategy, too often we hear, “the Board didn’t approve it.”

The NFP sector is going through radical changes in Australia and New Zealand, with significant changes to the way government funds are distributed to NFPs for service delivery.

With the introduction of the NDIS and similar reforms due across the aged care and other sectors, NFPs are having to re-think their entire operational and business framework.  We are also noting a significant increase in the request for funds from philanthropic grant makers and donors as a result.

While the sector relies heavily on the input of invaluable volunteers, including Board Directors, it is critical that these leadership roles adhere to best practice governance and apply strategic long-term thinking so that the NFPs can achieve their mission.

Board education is something that the Strategic Grants team are increasingly asked to deliver, as are a lot of our service delivery collaborators and colleagues. Here are some of the common areas that we see you can add value to your organisation’s governance, by providing some education and training:

  1. Clarity on role and expectations of the Board – against Position Descriptions.
  2. Review of operational plans and budget against the Strategic Plan
  3. The Fundraising Strategy, investment required and expected return on investments – based on a feasibility study and solid business case.

Specifically, when it comes to seeking grant funding from both government and philanthropic sources, ensure the Board understands the expectations of funders including: 

    1. Capacity of the organisation to deliver services and administer funds appropriately.
    2. The project is on mission and delivers strategic objectives.
    3. The organisation can measure performance through outputs, outcomes and long-term impact forecasts.
    4. There is a commitment by the organisation to evaluate and adapt according to the result of the evaluation and to report openly and honestly.
    5. Accept that when things don’t go according to plan, that this is not necessarily a bad outcome.  The learning from the process is invaluable to shaping the future service delivery of the organisation. And it may influence the way other organisations plan too!
    6. Always report openly and honestly to donors! If things are not going according to plan, let the funder know immediately.  They may be able to help find a solution.
    7. The organisation is willing to collaborate for the betterment of the sector in which it works and will disseminate learnings.
    8. Commitment to investment in growth strategies that ensure a diversified and sustainable revenue base.
    9. Investment in quality staff and their professional development and support. 
    10. Relationships with funders of any size and type are paramount.  It may be that Board members can open doors and set up introductions to prospective donors. And that they may be part of donor recognition and stewardship processes, to ensure ongoing funding partnerships. 

With the changing nature of the sector, to remain competitive, it is essential that NFPs apply business thinking to their operations, to ensure survival. Profit for Purpose is after all, what the sector is all about. 

For more information on the Board Education the SG team can assist with, please contact us on info@strategicgrants.co.nz.  If we can’t help, we will ensure you are introduced to one of our trusted partners who can.