The Importance of a Mission-Focused Collaboration and Budget
Tuesday October 11, 2022
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Hey there, welcome to another season of the Nonprofit Ace Podcast. This season is gonna be all about revisiting some topics, based off of where we are in the year where some of the conversations I've been having lately have been headed. Well, if people are coming to me with this question, that means they're probably some people. It's really timely for them right now. And I’m hoping that one of these episodes this season really resonates with you and gives you some steps that you can take actions towards, listen up.
If you've talked to me before, if you only listen to the podcast, one of the things I want you to always remember, I want you to get from me is that I am mission focused. And the budget is no different. The budget is truly a reflection of your mission. And you should budget accordingly. In the past, I've worked with organizations who funded the budget in terms of what can we get approved? That is not the way to think about the budget? Yes, you have to be realistic. But you also have to have the vision, the foresight to think about what does this truly take to do the work that we want to do? So you have to think about your organization in terms of what does capacity building look like if we truly want to serve 1000 Kids in the Denver Metro area? What does it take to serve those kids in the way that we say that we serve that. So if you've heard about my fictional nonprofit, Save Our Circus, no one take this idea, please. The organization is there to bring circus arts to black and Latino kids, mainly kids of color. It's to show kids that there is a future in the circus, they can find lots of opportunities in the circus, they can truly run away to the circus, and it's not a bad thing. And if I want to really think about how to get that work, I have to think about flying trapeze, one of the things of course, yes. If you have been to my website, if you talk to me, yes, flying trapeze is one of the ways we're going to do that. When I think about that work, I have to think about the insurance applied, I have to think about what it takes to pay instructors? I can't worry about our funders looking to support the circus. Why? Because that takes away from my mission, if I'm only thinking about what people are willing to approve, I'm not focusing on the people I say I want to serve. If you're only focusing on, well, the board won't approve a budget that increases 20% year over year. Why not? If the things that you're asking for are the things that they said yes, we believe a strategic plan that supports this is necessary, then why wouldn't they approve that budget?
You have to really consider what are they saying? If they say no, they can't approve that? Does that mean that those are not the funders that you need? Does that mean those are not the board members that you need? I don't think you should throw the people away. I'm not saying that that's never the funder for you. But in this moment for your organization, maybe that's not the people that you need to seek out. Maybe in this moment, those aren't the board members that you need to concentrate on and really consider why are they pushing back. So especially when you're thinking about your board and what they will and will not approve?
Consider what the case you've made for. This is why I say that, as you put together your wish list, you have to think about what are your accomplishments? What are these things that you're asking for going to do? Because if you don't have a clear idea of what they're going to do, you can't make the case for support. If you don't make the case for support, you don't meet your mission.
You can't just say I want an administrative assistant because I think it will give me more time. More time to do what? What burden, what is the thing that you can't do more of now because you are lacking in that additional bandwidth that additional support. So that's what you need to really think about is, what is the work that you're going to do. The other thing that you need to think about is who do you need to be connected with? I'm in lots of nonprofit groups, and for various reasons. And one of the things that I encourage organizations to think about is the way to seek out collaborations. So if you are looking at organizations who are serving the same population you do, could you join forces and use the same space? This could reduce your rental expenses? Or could you join forces and go to a funder and say, hey, we want to do this joint program to address these concerns? Would you help support that? By looking at the collaborations, you can think of what are the accomplishments, who else is looking to accomplish something with this same group? How do we work together? How do we join forces and so it's an easier thing for people to say yes to.
And the reason I definitely say seek out collaborations is because it's something one of our clients has done. They joined forces with other nonprofits within their community to do advertising. And what they found was that by joining forces, one of the benefits ended up being that they all saw an increase in funding, how much the increase varied by organization, of course. But they were able to say, we were now able to put our name out there more people knew about us more people knew about the work we did, and they in turn gave more. So that's definitely going to be a combination of awareness, as well as who you're being associated with.
So people like and trust one organization, and they see, okay, I trust that organization, I gave money to that organization. And they also work with this third organization, the second organization, they're more inclined to say, Okay, I trust these people also trust those other people. So think about that. As you go into this next week, how do you prepare your budget? Who are the people that you need to collaborate so that you can truly get your mission accomplished? Because you're not putting your budget together in terms of what will people approve? You're putting it together in terms of what can we accomplish? And so by seeking out collaborations, you make it easier to say we can accomplish this work. We can build awareness, we can do all these amazing things, because you're collaborating or sharing resources.