Category: Strategy

The Do's & Don'ts of Site Visits

The Do’s & Don’ts of Site Visits

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Site visits are not inspections.  Inspections occur in the military, and if you’ve never served, you have no idea of the horrors inflicted by the very thought of them.  Barracks have to be turned upside-down and inside-out to shake out the tiniest grains of soot, and everything from floors to boots to belt buckles have to gleam like the dawn. Site visits are more like first dates.  The boots only have to be on the right feet, and the buckles need only be fastened.  Funders don’t usually request site meetings unless they’re interested in the

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9 Ways To Enhance The Sustainability Of Your Nonprofit

9 Ways To Enhance The Sustainability Of Your Nonprofit

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Here are nine ways that nonprofits can enhance their capacity for sustainable growth. Not all ways work for every nonprofit, but we present the following list so you can explore your options. 1) Fee For Service Can you charge clients a fee for the services provided? It can be a flat fee or a sliding fee based on individual income. So long as the fee is less than what a for-profit business would charge, you will not be overstepping the moral and ethical bounds of a nonprofit organization. Perhaps you might consider inviting users and clients

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Why Culture Is Critical

Why Culture Is Critical

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA The “American Canyon Society” is a fictitious name for a real organization. It is not departing too far from reality to say that its mission is to circulate scientific and historical information about the canyons of America. The “ACS” publishes a quarterly journal about its field of interest. It also sponsors a series of symposia for scientists and outdoor enthusiasts. The journal was initially a black-and-white affair with little original content. In recent years, a new editor took over and turned it into a handsome, color magazine with original contributions from writers who donate their

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It's Harder To Spend Money (Well), Than Raise It

It’s Harder To Spend Money (Well), Than Raise It

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Axiom #4: It’s Harder To Spend Money (Well), Than Raise It This is the fourth in a series of posts based on the axioms Laurence propounded in his book The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution. Are you surprised by my axiom: “It’s Harder to Spend Money (Well), Than Raise It”? To understand it, let’s start by asking ourselves, “What do nonprofits spend money on?” The biggest cost centers in the nonprofit sector are staff and facilities. Staff To spend money well on staff means that your employees are coordinated, trained, seasoned, and supervised so that the organization

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Answering The Question What Sustainability Really Means

Answering The Question: What Sustainability Really Means

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA “I just don’t know how to answer that question,” he said. The speaker was one of 110 nonprofit executives attending a  leadership summit in Westchester County, NY at which I was a presenter. He was stumped by a question that had appeared on a grant application. One hundred and nine of his colleagues nodded their head knowingly as he spoke, signifying that in one form or another they too had been queried along the same lines and were also having trouble finding an answer.The question? “Can you demonstrate that the program for which you seek

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Sharing Your Vision

Sharing Your Vision

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Right up front, a superb case communicates to the donor why funds are urgently needed and why philanthropic support makes sense. That must occur on the first page simply because many people will only read that page and possibly the last page. A case statement obviously shares your mission, but that is secondary to sharing the vision of the campaign. Placing the mission in a sidebar often serves well. We often write a short (5 pages) and a long version (ten pages) of the case, but recently I haven’t seen much need for the longer

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Having the Conversation

Having the Conversation

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA The advent of online applications doesn’t mean you no longer have to talk to a funder. Many grant-makers, especially the independents and family foundations, don’t have web sites and electronic portals. Large, bureaucratic foundations that have gone paperless often have online forms that are so long and involved, you might want to talk to them, if possible, just to determine if it’s worth your while to apply. So here’s what you need to extract from a phone conversation with a funder. Identify the best person to talk to. If the party on the other end

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Welcome New Subscribers Well!

Welcome New Subscribers Well!

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Your welcome email when someone signs-up for your agency newsletter and general communications must be sent out immediately after they sign up and it must be a barn-burner that makes the subscriber happy to have joined. Does your current welcome email do that? When was the last time you reviewed it? Can it be better? Often overlooked, this welcome email sets the tone for what they can expect from you. It’s important that the email be written well. Of course you want to acknowledge their subscription, but you have to also tell them what will

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Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA If you ignore organizational culture you do so at your own peril. Why? Because you won’t get depth in the fundraising program unless the organizational culture is aligned and integrated with the fundraising objectives. Yes, you can raise revenue without sufficient alignment, but not the larger amounts and not in a  way that achieves sustainability. The first chapter of my recent book, The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution, concerns organizational culture. There I explain the relationship between culture and fundraising in detail, but I’ve noticed that many readers who write me seem to overlook this analysis. So

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Start the New Year With a “Strategic Plan” Bang

Start the New Year With a “Strategic Plan” Bang

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Legend has it that a young buck of a woodsman challenged his older teammate to a competition to see who could chop down the most trees in one day. When the day arrived, they went to the forest, shook hands, and then went to work. The young man was strong, enthusiastic and worked hard. He kept  chopping, occasionally looking over and laughing to himself that the old man was taking breaks. At the  end of the day, the older woodsman walked over to his young colleague and asked, “So, how did you do?”  The young

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