What Are the Components of an Effective Nonprofit Strategic Plan?

The components of an effective organizational strategic plan include:

     Monitoring & Evaluation – This includes the criteria for monitoring and evaluation as well as the responsibilities and frequencies of monitoring the implementation of the plan.

     Communication – This describes the actions that will be taken to communicate your plan and to whom.

     Budget Plan – This details the resources and funding needed to achieve the strategic goals.

     Operating Plan – This lays out the major goals and activities to be accomplished over the coming fiscal year.

     Financial Reports – This includes last year’s budget and the current year budget, with estimated expenses and the actual amounts spent.

     Description of the Strategic-Planning Process – This is the process used to develop the plan. It also records who was involved, the number of meetings held and any major lessons learned.

     Strategic Analysis Data – This is any information generated during external and internal analyses and includes listing of strategic issues identified.

     Goals for the Board & CEO – These goals of the executive director and board should be directly aligned with the goals of the strategic planning.


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Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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How to Best Communicate Your Nonprofit Strategic Plan

An organization’s strategic plan is a blueprint to the future that allows leadership to evaluate its mission to determine strategy, advance its mission, and set realistic goals and objectives. The plan, however, should not be created and left to collect dust in a file drawer. Some stakeholders should get complete copies of your plan, including appendices. Other stakeholders (usually outside of organization) should receive only the body of the plan without appendices. In addition, every board member and member of management needs to get a copy of plan. You might even consider sharing the complete plan or highlights to everyone in organization to ensure clarity of vision.

Here are a few ways to distribute your strategic plan:

  • Post your mission, vision, and values statements on the walls of your main office
  • Give each employee a “statements” card
  • Publish portions of your plan in your newsletter and advertising and marketing materials
  • Train new board members and employees on the plan during orientations
  • Include your strategic plan in policies, procedures, and employee manuals
  • Provide copies of the strategic plan to major stakeholders, including funders/investors, trade associations, potential collaborators, vendors/suppliers, and others

Want to learn more organizational development solutions? Join The INS Group’s “Collective Impact – An Innovative Approach for Community Building” webinar on August 16, 2017 (2 – 3 pm ET). Click here to register.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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How Will the New FLSA Regulations Affect Your Nonprofit?

The new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations signed into law earlier this year have nonprofits across the country scrambling to make sense of how these changes will impact them and their staff. Starting December 1, 2016, nonprofits will have to pay overtime to certain employees who work more than 40 hours a week but earn less than $47,476 per year.

Nervous? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are a few guidelines for determining how these regulations affect your business and employees:

1. Defining exempt vs. nonexempt employees. Many employees and employers mistakenly believe that employees are “exempt” simply by virtue of receiving an annual salary (versus an hourly wage). This is incorrect. Most positions are considered nonexempt except for “white collar” jobs—those requiring certain administrative, professional, and executive duties AND which pay more than $913 weekly ($47,476 annually). These helpful worksheets from the National Council of Nonprofits will help your organization easily determine which employees are nonexempt or exempt.

These changes will mean huge budgetary shakeups for organizations where employees do not meet the new salary threshold ($913 weekly) to be considered exempt from receiving overtime pay. In particular, if your nonprofit employs workers with professional duties, you may be impacted.

2. Who can receive overtime pay? Only nonexempt employees are eligible to receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours per week. Nonprofits discovering that many of their employees are nonexempt, and thus eligible for overtime, face three primary choices: bumping up some staff salaries to at least $47,476 per year, keeping nonexempt staff salaries the same and paying those employees overtime, or restricting nonexempt employees’ ability to work overtime.

Nonprofits should analyze their staff’s workloads and determine just how much overtime their employees work on a regular basis. Some employees work far beyond 40 hours each week, while others only do so seasonally for high-demand programs. Employers will need to take on the tough task of revising their 2017 budgets to accommodate these new realities—and keep in mind that, every three years, exempt employees’ salary thresholds will rise per FLSA regulations.

3. Adjusting to FLSA changes is not an either/or situation. There’s no doubt that many businesses in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors will be significantly affected by the new FLSA regulations. However, instead of seeing these changes as hurdles, consider them challenges to reevaluate the efficiency of your organization.

Some organizations will choose a combination of raising salaries to make employees exempt, eliminating or restricting overtime for nonexempt employees, and budgeting to accommodate for predictable situational overtime. Others will hire part-time workers to help limit overtime among staff members and substantially reassign work so that it is fairly distributed among all employees (which may result in some new hires). There is no one right solution for any organization, so be creative and seek input from other companies in your sector.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are many ways to comply with the new FLSA regulations. While initial budget shifts may be painful, they will go a long way to improve the sustainability of your organization and ensure that workers are being compensated fairly for their efforts.

FLSA Resources for Nonprofits

Want to learn more innovative nonprofit solutions? Join The INS Group’s “Collective Impact – An Innovative Approach for Community Building” webinar on August 16, 2017 (2 – 3 pm ET). Click here to register. 

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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How Nonprofits Can Build Relationships with Diverse Communities

Here are some strategies to help your organization build stronger relationships with people from underrepresented groups:

  • Offer internships and fellowship programs for potential members of color
  • Partner with existing membership organizations that reach these groups, i.e. community-specific chambers of commerce
  • Create a mentoring program pairing board members with board members who are from communities of color
  • Partner with existing diverse groups
  • Develop collaborative programs with local organizations that serve diverse populations
  • Offer your library of materials and resources to relevant groups
  • Develop educational programs for wealthy individuals from diverse communities that discuss philanthropic topics relevant to the population
  • Invite leaders from minority communities to participate as presenters and attendees in programs about philanthropy
  • Host meetings or workshops for and by donors of special ethnic groups
  • Support the development of local affinity groups or giving circles
  • Provide assistance and support philanthropy options to those who advise wealthy ethnically diverse individuals and families

For more capacity-building strategic advice, please contact us at The INS Group.


Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fund Development, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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Volunteer Programs for the Digital Age

No matter their size, most nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers as an integral part of their success. From setting up tables at an event to organizing a 5K charity race on behalf of your organization, volunteers perform important tasks without the need to hire additional staff.

A well-run volunteer program is essential for recruiting volunteers, engaging them effectively, and keeping them invested for years to come. Here are several free digital tools that can help your organization make the most of its volunteers:

Evaluating your volunteer program. How healthy is your current volunteer program? Do you have a dedicated staff person or volunteer to manage volunteers? Small and medium-sized nonprofits often struggle to find the money or time necessary to create infrastructure and processes for a healthy volunteer program. But the investment is well worth it—remember that volunteers, in addition to giving their time, are public supporters of your organization and often turn into donors.

Learn where your program stands by doing a thorough assessment of your organization’s capacity and goals. AGE UK offers a great assessment tool. While this resource was developed for nonprofits in the UK who recruit older volunteers, it’s a great starting place for any nonprofit. If your organization focuses on food insecurity, Volunteer Match offers an online volunteer program assessment. This tool is particularly valuable because it provides personalized next steps based on your organization’s goals and current volunteer program.

Sharing volunteer opportunities. Newsletters and social media are excellent places to share volunteer opportunities, especially time-sensitive ones. But many nonprofits have year-round projects for which they need volunteers. Idealist.org allows nonprofits to post unlimited volunteer opportunities visible to more than 1.4 million visitors a month. Better still, nonprofits can post opportunities in three languages, specify the number of volunteers and any special skills needed, and list opportunities that are available for several weeks or months out of the year. ActivateGood.org lets nonprofits post short- and long-term opportunities, and it also assists with volunteer management by sending reminder emails about volunteers who sign up.

Managing volunteers. Maintaining communication with volunteers and assigning them tasks are incredibly time-consuming processes. Fortunately, many programs make this work a lot easier with free or low-cost services. TrackItForward.com will let nonprofits with fewer than 50 volunteers track their time for free, with affordable pricing plans for larger numbers of volunteers. YourVolunteers.com offers the whole kit and kaboodle from volunteer scheduling to engagement, with a free cloud-based system and affordable paid options.

But the most important part of managing volunteers is ensuring you have established processes. Volunteer management comes with a fair share of challenges—including scheduling volunteers, thanking them, and even letting them go. Volunteer Match offers a wide variety of free webinars to help volunteer coordinators develop better processes, build their management skills, and tell the story of volunteers’ impact. Learn more at learn.volunteermatch.org.

Thanking volunteers. Volunteers who don’t feel appreciated are far less likely to give you their time (or money) again. Take the time to ensure that you thank volunteers for their efforts, whether that comes in the form of an email, phone call, or annual appreciation event.

Short on resources? Assign a program manager to personally thank volunteers before or after their work shift. Collect volunteers’ email addresses and ask a Communications staff person to send an e-blast with a thank-you graphic after an event. Social media is a great way to share photos, tag volunteers, and publicly recognize companies or groups that send volunteers. Whatever you do, try to be timely with thank you messages—don’t wait till National Volunteer Week/Month in April.

Canva.com is a free, easy-to-use graphic design platform that allows organizations to create thank-you graphics and save their brand’s colors and logos. Create several generic templates that you can rotate throughout the year to send individual volunteers. For large groups, create a personalized graphic with a photo and the organization’s name. These templates can be created by any staff person and then run by your nonprofit’s communications department for approval.

These are just a few tools for getting started—the Internet is your best friend for finding new platforms and services that can bring your volunteer program to the next level. With time and minimal cost, you can develop volunteers who serve as longtime ambassadors and funders of your organization’s mission.

Want to learn more innovative nonprofit solutions? Join The INS Group’s “Collective Impact – An Innovative Approach for Community Building ” webinar on August 16, 2017 (2 – 3 pm ET). Click here to register.



Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management

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What Are Some Characteristics of Diverse Donors?

Nonprofit donors from diversity backgrounds share common characteristics. Below are a few to help expand your nonprofit’s donor base:

  • First-generation wealth
  • Wealth from entrepreneurial enterprises in specific industries
  • Live in multiple worlds/cultures
  • Participate in multiple networks
  • Bi-culturally fluent
  • Most often prefer causes that impact their own communities
  • Rarely limit giving to their own community
  • Reluctant to commit to long-term charitable planning
  • Identified person (staff, volunteer, board member, participant/recipient of services) associated with the nonprofit and its cause or beneficiaries and passionately committed to issues
  • Has participated in nonprofits for some time and serves on board or advisory committee or on a gala or event committee
  • Major gift was followed by a sequence of increased financial commitments over time


Your nonprofit, faith-based organization, or government agency can achieve greater capacity when you participate in The INS Group webinars. Visit our website for the latest lineup.



Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fund Development, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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Why Every Board Needs at Least One Millennial

Millennials have been skewered in the media as selfish, lazy, and apathetic. In 2013, Time magazine declared them as the “Me Me Me” generation.

Yet Millennials—defined as individuals born between 1980 and 1996, or those 20-36 years old today—have unique perspectives and skillsets to contribute to nonprofit organizations.

Here are three reasons why you should consider inviting at least one Millennial to join your Board of Directors:

1. Diverse perspectives. Marcus Morrow, 35, a Board member for Achievement Academy of Durham and Durham People’s Alliance, warns that ageism is bad for organizational sustainability. “Boards made up of a single, collective perspective tend to approach problems and situations in a myopic manner,” he says. He suggests that Board members work to recruit from beyond their own peer groups and consider individuals with different backgrounds and experiences.

2. In-demand skillsets. Millennials often have skillsets—cultivated both professionally and socially—that are must-haves in the modern workplace. From expertise in social marketing to data mining to crowdsourcing, Millennials are adept at leveraging their everyday experiences and enthusiasm into tangible wins for professional and organizational gain.

3. Big hearts (and wallets). Despite their reputation as living off of Mom and Dad, Millennials are significant philanthropic contributors. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report from the Case Foundation found that 87% of Millennials donated money to a charitable cause in the prior year. In addition, nearly half had volunteered their time or skills to a charity in the previous month. As Millennials age and increase their personal wealth, there’s no doubt that they will become formidable influencers and contributors within the nonprofit sector.

Learn more board-development solutions when you join in The INS Group webinars. Check our website for the latest schedule.

Posted in Board Development, Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fund Development, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management

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Philanthropy in the Latino Community: How and Why They Give


New research shows that people within the Latino community are increasingly turning to philanthropy to provide support. Want to expand your donor reach in this market? Here’s how and why they give:

Why Latinos Give:

  • Emergency and financial assistance to family and “Como familia” in U.S. and abroad
  • Religion
  • Family-related issues, children/youth, elderly
  • Community rights and economic opportunities
  • Scholarship funds, education, youth development
  • Cultural heritage or preservation and the arts
  • Healthcare and human services
  • Disaster relief in home / ancestral countries

How Latinos Give:

  • Family and friends
  • Church
  • Mutual assistance associations
  • Civic associations, chambers of commerce
  • Business and professional organizations
  • Hispanic/Latino civil-rights and social-justice organizations
  • Hispanic/Latino Community Development Corporations, community funds
  • Mainstream nonprofits that address Hispanic/Latino needs

Gain more capacity-building insights when you participate in The INS Group webinars. Check our website for the latest schedule.


Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Fund Development, Fundraising, Marketing/Public Relations, Nonprofit Management, Strategic Planning

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Rethinking Site Visits

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” –Confucius

ins_digitalYour organization has great collaterals for sharing its impact—a vibrant annual report, videos, program profiles on social media, and maybe even an impact page on your website.

But are you bringing visitors to see and experience your organization’s work?

Site visits are an important way to help the public, volunteers, and current and potential funders understand your nonprofit’s impact. Relationship building often begins with a phone call, but site visits are a powerful opportunity for supporters to connect with your mission and the individuals you serve. Here are a few tips for planning and implementing successful site visits:

1. Determine your goals and audience. Are you celebrating a new program? Do you want to reconnect with longtime funders? Do you wish the general public knew more about your nonprofit’s work? Determine 3-5 fundraising and marketing goals your organization has for the next fiscal year and then identify program opportunities that will allow visitors to connect with your organization’s work.

When creating a guest list, think broadly. What companies or groups are interested in the areas in which your organization works? Are there city or county officials that would want to know more about your nonprofit and its accomplishments? Don’t be afraid to invite individuals or groups with whom you have little or no prior relationship. If you operate programs in partnership with other organizations, tap into their networks and brainstorm potential visitors. Don’t be afraid to make site visits a joint effort!

2. Create a formal event with an informal feel. Take the time to develop a well-planned, thoughtful event. Create a graphic and email invitations or send invitations in the mail. When possible, align your visit with a national celebration (National Summer Learning Day, National Children’s Book Week). Limit visits to a maximum of 1.5 hours and share an agenda with visitors beforehand. Offer refreshments when possible and send people home with “swag” or a small gift. Everyone has busy schedules; these touches show that you respect people’s time and appreciate their interest.

On the day of the site visit, try to put visitors at ease. Avoid overly formal professional clothing and limit presentations with slides. Too often, presentations feel one-sided and stiff. Instead, do what you can to encourage a conversation about your organization’s work. Arrange chairs in a circle, ask guests what they know about your nonprofit, and encourage questions. Invite staff members and the individuals you serve to share stories about your organization’s work and the impact they have seen or experienced. This last approach is a tremendous way to connect with visitors and allow them to learn about your work from people with whom normally they might never interact.

3. Let visitors see or do the work themselves. Site visits are a unique opportunity for visitors to directly experience your work and see its benefits. Drop in on a gardening class with kids and encourage visitors to ask children what they are learning. Bring visitors to your warehouse and have them speak with dedicated volunteers who are loading boxes of food for families. Do whatever you can to make visitors feel like they are a part of the process and have seen your mission in action.

4. Notify program staff of site visits. Bring your program staff into the loop well before site visits. Let them know the number of visitors that are coming, encourage them to wear clothing with your organization’s logo, and share any expectations you may have. After the visit, quickly debrief with staff to see what went well and what you can do better next time.

5. Protect the privacy of individuals you serve. Sometimes visitors like to take photos on their cell phones. On the day of your visit, inform visitors about any safeguarding or media policies your organization may have. Discourage visitors from taking photos on their own—it’s important for staff members and the people you serve to have a say in how their images are taken and used. (Be especially careful with minors; be sure to have parents/guardians sign a photo release, and have the courtesy to ask children if they would like to be photographed.) When possible, get signed photo releases from program staff and participants in advance and have Communications staff take photos that you can share later with visitors.

6. Follow up with a thank you. Send visitors a simple thank you email or note for spending time with your organization and encourage them to visit again. Provide a link for them to sign up for your newsletter and social media channels, and let them know that you plan to keep in touch. Site visits are about relationship building and providing a glimpse into your organization’s work. Don’t forget this critical step!

Want to learn more innovative nonprofit solutions? Join The INS Group’s “Ready, Set, Prioritize: The Fundamentals of Strategic Planning” webinar on May 10, 2017 (2 – 3 pm ET). Click here to register.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Donors, Nonprofit Management

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Philanthropy in the African American Community: How and Why They Give

The face of philanthropy is rapidly changing to become as ethnically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse as our country’s population – and demographic trends show that communities of color are giving at increasing rates and levels. Aligned with the goals of the founder of Black History Month Carter G. Woodson (shown), greater attention is now being paid to the contributions of Black Americans by nonprofits. Here’s what you need to know.

Why African Americans Give:

  • Emergency and immediate assistance to friends and family
  • Religion
  • Education and scholarships
  • Youth programs (at-risk youth)
  • Civil rights
  • Human services
  • Healthcare and research
  • Community and economic development

How African Americans Give:

  • Direct giving through families and friends
  • Black churches
  • Mutual aid societies
  • Fraternities, sororities, and social or civic groups
  • Historically black colleges, scholarship funds
  • African-American civil-rights organizations
  • Community human services organizations
  • Black federated campaigns 

Want to learn more innovative nonprofit solutions? Join The INS Group’s “Ready, Set, Prioritize: The Fundamentals of Strategic Planning” webinar on May 10, 2017 (2 – 3 pm ET). Click here to register.

Posted in Capacity Building, Communications, Fund Development, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management

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