Tips for new businesses and nonprofit organizations

Twin Cities Business Magazine had a nice story a few years ago on businesses that took off during 2020. You can read it here. I love reading about different businesses, how they started, their concept from coffee shops to virtual learning products to making masks (which ironically they TRIED selling years prior…). It’s fun to get a small glimpse behind the scenes of what these businesses faced and how they reacted. It is also always fascinating to see the idea that is hatched, in many cases years prior, but came to fruition when the need arises. This is a quick read and if you are on the verge of wanting to start a business or do something different – these business owners have some good quick tips too – I’m going to take it a step further and tie it into nonprofit fundraising.

  • You need to have channel diversification – This applies to fundraising in that you need to be raising funds on multiple platforms (mail, digital, major donor, grants) and from multiple sources (grants, grassroots/low donors, major donor)
  • Always take care of our customers first Your donors are your customers. Nonprofits need to repeat this mantra daily. A nonprofit does not exist without the donors funding them.
  • Recognize the importance of networking with people who matched the personae for whom we developed our products Prospect for new donors! Nonprofits will naturally see donor attrition 20-30% each year. Your revenue will drop, and so will your impact, if you do not identify new donors.
  • I have learned to focus on what we do best Nonprofits cannot be all things to all people. Remind yourself of the mission of your nonprofit then stick to it.
  • Listen to what customers need, learn to anticipate their needs, and always respond The same applies to your nonprofits mission. You have to stay relevant, supporting what the current and long term needs are of your audience.
  • Take time to adjust and pivot the right way. Setbacks happen, and it’s important to fully process them before making decisions. Nonprofit organizations cannot predict how much money you will raise and the outcome of all your work. You need to consistently track your metrics for what is working, where you need to pivot and improve, and steps to get there.
  • Luck favors the prepared!

-Kristen Sheehan