Beyond funding

IMG_2377I’m sure you’ve done a bit of day-dreaming in your time about how you’d spend £1M if you won the lottery.

I avoid such speculation (mainly because I don’t do the lottery) but I do imagine from time to time what I’d do if I had an unlimited amount on money to invest in my current ‘good cause’ whatever that may be.

Interestingly, it’s not as easy an exercise as you might think (try it yourself…) even though most not-for-private-profit organisations seem to be fixated about money.

While concern about ‘the bottom line’ is sensible of course, I sometimes think that money, and the responsibility that comes with spending other people’s, gets in the way of organisational success. It’s the old conundrum – being too busy fundraising to do the work for which you’re fundraising!

Which is why I’m looking at non-financial resources for organisational success below, and at a training day at the end of February.

What makes an organisation sustainable?

Years ago I came across a brilliant toolkit which explored what it takes to make an organisation sustainable (note: there was a separate list for financial sustainability). Their recipe for success included…

  • having a clear strategic direction
  • being able to scan the environment to identify opportunities
  • being able to attract, manage and retain competent staff
  • having adequate administrative and financial systems
  • being able to demonstrate effectiveness and impact to attract resources
  • getting community support for, and involvement in, the organisation’s work

How does your organisation stack up in these areas? Be honest now.

Being a train…

Worth re-visiting the Gina Negus (founder, The Projects Company) analogy of viewing your organisation as a train – firmly on track, destination ahead down the line, resources fuel the journey, all on board travelling in the same direction, in control of the speed and direction of travel.

Is your organisation a train or an octopus (drifting, reaching out in all directions, just ’going with the flow’)?

The power of people

Online: I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the fact that (along with the rest of the universe of course!) I can now communicate with thousands of others easily, affordably and, if it’s done well, effectively. But it also brings what Adrian Ashton describes as ‘faux companionship’ that has a place in reducing isolation but, in my opinion, is no substitute for ‘face-to-face’.  For me the ideal blend is using the arm’s length facility to make things happen face-to-face*  In your organisation do you use social media effectively?

Offline: Here’s another question for you. If your organisation was threatened with closure, which 10, 20, 30, 40 people (that’s 100 in total) would you contact first for support? Applying the pareto principle [that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your contacts] which 100 of your 500 best contacts are the most important for your organisation’s survivial? The list could include your local newspaper editor, the printer who gives you extended credit, or maybe your frontline staff – the people who greet visitors and answer the phone – and an ever-dependable volunteer.

If you don’t already know who these people – your VIPs – are, find out and make 2015 the year you really look after your greatest assets!

If you’re interested in exploring these and other non-financial routes to sustainability and success, join me for a training day at the end of February. Details at and book now for a 10% early bird discount before the end of 2014!

*More about online and face-to-face communication at


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