The start of the year is always a great time for reflection and resolution, not just for individuals but also for organizations. At the Afterschool Expert Hub, we've compiled a starter list of resolutions for you and your teams to consider along with a set of projects that can help you meet your goals.
RESOLUTION 1: DEVELOP CLEAR GOALS AND A WELL-DEFINED STRATEGY TO DRIVE IMPACT
Consider: A strategic planning project
Strategic plans can play an invaluable role in helping you articulate your goals, develop a roadmap and allocate resources. It can also create a renewed sense of purpose and drive engagement and alignment among your team members, board members, partners, volunteers and funders. If you haven't done a strategic plan in the last five years or if your organization is going through a major upheaval, you might consider an in-depth strategic planning process. Depending on your specific needs, this could include elements such as landscape research/market analysis, goal-setting, benchmarking with comparable organizations, stakeholder (team, board, volunteer) engagement, strategic plan development, budgeting and implementation planning. If, on the other hand, you've recently gone through a strategic plan, all you might need is a quick "tune-up". This might involve a facilitated workshop that enables staff and leadership/board engagement and introspection, helps surface and iron out any issues and ensures buy-in and alignment on key actions.
RESOLUTION 2: ENSURE YOU HAVE THE FUNDING AVAILABLE TO MEET YOUR PROGRAMMATIC NEEDS
Consider: A fundraising project
Did you know that the majority of nonprofits have less than three months of operating reserves? Not having adequate funding can hurt your ability to respond to a crisis, compromise the success of your programs and add to the daily stress levels of your leadership and board. Fundraising projects can range in scope and scale. The simplest is a fundraising "health check". This may include a review of your fundraising plan, documents (grant proposal templates, donor reports, etc.), processes (donor cultivation, solicitation, donor processing and acknowledgement, etc.) and systems (donor database, online fundraising platform, etc.). A grant proposal writing project can be another option for a targeted need. For something more intensive, you might want to consider a philanthropic plan or earned revenue strategy to help you identify, diversify and secure funding for current or future initiatives.
RESOLUTION 3: LEAD WITH IMPACT
Consider: An evaluation project
Evaluation projects are not just for reporting purposes. Program evaluations are to mission-driven organizations what financial statements are to for-profit organizations – they validate the value of the organization's work, highlights gaps and opportunities for improvement and create an evidence-based argument for continuing to support and scale the work. Evaluation projects, depending on your organizational model, scale and purpose can range from a summary overview of key metrics, supported by compelling stories of impact to a more intensive evaluation process of data-gathering (quantitative and qualitative), validation and analysis to highly technical studies (e.g., randomized control trials) that isolate the most effective elements of programs and establish causation.
RESOLUTION 4: COMMUNICATE WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Consider: A strategic communication or PR project
Mission-driven organizations are often so focused on getting the work done that they forget about the importance of communicating the impact of their work to their wider community of beneficiaries, partners, funders and other supporters. Again, your options here range from an "audit" of your communication materials to ensure consistency and clarity to a fully fleshed-out strategic communications project that helps you systematically communicate with key audiences in a clear and compelling way. You may also consider engaging with an expert for a public relations strategy if you want to implement a PR plan that increases public awareness and support for your organization's mission and work.