Nonprofit Success is in the Details

Success, it’s been said, is in the details.

True story:
A few weeks ago I attended a fundraising committee meeting for a nonprofit organization that has had their budget shrink to less than half of what it was two years ago.

My role was to listen, provide candid feedback, and to share any resources I had to move things forward.

But, wait, let’s back uphere’s the ugly truth:

Keen Attention to Detail Will Help Your Nonprofit Succeed
  • There’s been staff turnover at the Executive Director level, twice in the past three years.
  • The board is not at 100% board giving.
  • There is no development staff. Any and all fundraising is done by the Executive Director, when she has time.

Back to our meeting.

We had just two out of four committee members show up: one board member and me. The other two board members were no shows.

Doing my “caring truth-teller” coaching, we had a fast-paced discussion and
1. Identified the financial goal is to raise $70k by September 1, 2017.
2. Created a plan to send an appeal letter within two weeks.
3. Agreed to make phone calls to invite a matching gift once donor lists were reviewed.

We left the meeting focused and ready to get into action.

And then…crickets.


There were actions agreed to by each of us present, but weeks have now gone by without any follow-up.

This young, eager, over-worked staff person is not using the talented committee to ease her burden.

There have been no calls or outreach to schedule time with us to review donor lists, no email follow-up with notes identifying who was to do what and by when.

I’ve, frankly, forgotten all I agreed to do. And my enthusiasm at supporting this weary staff person has shrunk A LOT.

It’s no surprise to me that the budget continues to shrink. Engagement from board, donors, and volunteers is waning, and the organization is at a painful spot.

The Lesson With Follow-Up
If people are not doing what you need or want them to do, ask YOURSELF:

Start doing better follow up

1.) What am I doing to inspire others to support me and/or this organization?

2.) How specific and clear am I being about what actions will make a significant difference?

3.) And most importantly, how quickly am I following up with calls, information, or notes to keep the momentum going?

Whether it’s with a donor ask, a board member helping with an event, or your staff getting their work done, spurring others into taking action means being specific and speedy in your follow up.

A powerful tool to use to get others to do what you want is the Sample Meeting Note Format found on the free resources page of my website.

You might say, as the young Executive Director said to me, I don’t have time to send out such detailed meeting notes.

You don’t have time NOT TO.

Send out specific notes and actions within 24 hours of any meeting.

I promise you, you’ll get to watch others do MORE.

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