For Not for Profits, April is crunch time. At no other time of the year can you draw on your budget to make such significant investments than the few weeks before the end of the financial year.
If you’ve got some cash left over in your communications or HR budget, you might be thinking about shelling out for the latest shiny laptops or pouring money into a website overhaul – both seemingly obvious EOFY spends. But shiny laptops by themselves won’t do anything to boost your bottom line. And although a new website is an attractive prospect, without a user-first, data-led strategy to guide your efforts, any changes will be purely cosmetic.
Instead, balance your 2015/16 budget and boost your business at the same time, by investing in these three key areas.
1. Collaborative technology
Many NFPs are run by small teams simultaneously running multiple projects and filling multiple roles due to lack of resources and cuts to staff and/or funding. Add to this natural disasters, policy changes and other news and emergencies that require immediate response, and it’s not surprising that many NFP staff face burnout.
Inefficient communication systems make the problem worse, adding countless unnecessary hours to each work week. So, technology that makes teamwork and collaboration easier should be high on your list of pre-EOFY investment priorities.
At ntegrity, our team of nine full-time staff, three interns and more than five contractors each have multiple roles. At any one time we’re working across 12-plus projects in six cities and three time zones, so it’s crucial that we use communication tools to work effectively. We still use email for client communication and some internal matters, but we’ve streamlined our team conversations by using Slack, and we plan content on Trello and revise it in Google Docs rather than via endless back-and-forth emails.
Whatever the size of your organisation or the teams that work within it, there are a number of apps and online platforms that can be easily incorporated into any company’s communication toolkit – any outlay required will pay for itself over and over again in reduced stress and improved efficiency.
2. Analyse your past year’s performance
The end of financial year is a time to review the past 12 months, learn what strategies got results and build on them to improve performance in the next year and beyond. Think about what fundraising strategies worked best for your organisation, with particular focus on the Christmas period as that is when NFPs usually raise the most funds.
With an entire financial year’s data at hand, it’s the ideal time to look at what worked, what didn’t, what needs fixing or improving, what your competitors did and where the wider landscape is headed. This is what we do in our digital audits: reviewing all digital channels and assets and then providing a clear set of recommendations ordered by priority to outline a clear path forward.
Some common issues to look out for include tracking issues in Google Analytics (without these, you won’t know what’s bringing in the most fundraising money), a website that’s not converting donors or additional digital channels (like email and social media) that aren’t getting the engagement needed to drive real action. An audit pinpoints exactly what isn’t working in these areas so you can strategise the best course of action.
3. Invest in your team
The cliche that the staff is a company’s most important asset is especially true for NFPs, where resources are limited, salaries are small and hours are long. It is employees’ passion and enthusiasm for their cause that drives success. Keep your staff committed to your cause, feeling happy and supported, by investing back in them.
If you haven’t already done so, the EOFY is the ideal time to set aside part of the budget to spend strategic time together out of the office – at a working lunch, day trip or overnight stay – to gain perspective, clarity and fuel thinking. At ntegrity we do this every quarter to celebrate past successes and to plan the quarter ahead, breaking it up into manageable quarterly goals (Rockefeller habits can help here).
Remember to keep goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and review them regularly as they will change over time. Celebrating collectively achieved goals is hugely motivating, but it’s just as important to follow up in areas where efforts fell short of expectations and work out how to improve practices in future.
Need some advice on how to make the most from your EOFY spend? Get in touch here.
This article was originally published on Pro Bono Australia.