Portland, OR. The nonprofit Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) brings executives and peers together to provide community and networking experiences. The organization is educating people about the importance of supporting local nonprofits, explaining, “As the COVID-19 crisis continues to take its toll on communities around the world, those organizations play a critical role in the relief efforts today and going forward as people navigate their way through the fallout.”
“With social distancing measures in place, many of the traditional channels for nonprofits have gone away,” says Roslyn Payne, chair of the board of directors of UpMetrics. “They can’t have events. They can’t afford mailings. How do they get their message out, keep their team together and still build capacity to service the needs within the community, both short and long term?”
Both nonprofits and their supporters can continue to rebuild relationships. As our community looks to give back during the crisis, here are several “takeaways” from the Payne Family Foundation:
Set measurable goals. Help an organization break down its mission into a few measurable objectives. Engage the organization, stakeholders, and donors to drive alignment on those goals. “Frequently, goal setting becomes a critical element to achieve ‘success’ and the process by itself can be very helpful to everyone,” says Drew Payne.
Identify a time frame. To achieve the goals, expectations should be realistic. “There needs to be an understanding of the challenges that organizations have in trying to meet the goals,” says Drew. “It is the journey that hopefully results in progress. This is critical to get ahead.” Keep in mind that the path toward success will not always be straight and may take much longer than expected.
Take an iterative approach. “The theory of change model with short- and long-term goals translates into an operating plan that will probably demonstrate that the theory is correct, or needs to be modified,” says Drew Payne. “The organization and funders need to have ongoing, open communication lines with a ‘honest’ lens for review.” Applying a theory of change model inherently comes with risk. Remember that it’s ok to fail.
Interpret the data. “Every nonprofit that I have worked with cares about the mission,” says Drew Payne. “Few, however, have the infrastructure and data support teams required to effectively leverage real-time information to drive interventions at scale.” Data and the capacity to leverage information is required for sustainability and scale. Groups like YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have used UpMetrics data to show financial supporters and school boards who are evaluating cost cuts the importance of their afterschool activities. Having the data to back up the mission is critical so that organizations can report to potential and existing donors about their impact.
Tell compelling stories. One of the best ways organizations can engage their funders, donors, and stakeholders during these difficult times is through compelling stories. It can help people understand how they can help an organization make an impact and empower people to take action.
“Trying to get the stories out to as broad of an audience as can be accessed is critical to these groups because they are just getting crushed,” says Roslyn Payne. “We have to have a sense of trust in working together in all of this because it’s not an easy road ahead of us. And a critical element of success going forward will be these community groups.”