Understanding the problem
One of the most common sustainability challenges of nonprofit organizations is fiscal inefficiency. The cyclic nature of donations driven by annual events cause a high cash infusion during short periods of the year that’s get depleted until the next event. In addition, many non-profit organizations have a clear disconnect between the donor base and the organization when it comes to tracking of fiscal information.
Different perspective reveal other associated issues
We were approached by a non-profit organization serving about eight hundred constituents that wanted to manage the pledge collection efforts more effectively.
Since we didn’t have experience in non-profit management we decided to approach the problem from the donor’s perspective and understand the issues from the other side of the fence. After interviewing various donors of the organization we found out that in addition to the inefficiency of the manual process with which pledge collections was conducted, the donor base felt somewhat disengaged throughout the year. In addition some of the donors complained that there wasn’t an easy way to track the donations and pledges they have made throughout the year.
Solutions to problems that didn’t exist before
We once heard a saying that teachers help us find solutions for problems that we wouldn’t have without them. Of course the truth is that we just didn’t know of them...
With this understanding we went to the drawing board and proposed a solution that improves the collection process via automated email based invoicing. In addition we created an interface for the individual donors to log on and review their donation history both for tax purposes and for their own knowledge. More so we asked the donors to fill out optional personal information such as birthdays and anniversaries which we used to allow the non-profit to engage with their constituents on an ongoing basis not even directly tied to a specific fund raising campaign.
The solution to the original problem was now a mere side-effect of a system that puts the constituent first. In allowing us to take a marketing or humanistic approach instead of the traditional engineered approach, this non-profit strengthened the relationship between itself and its constituency while improving the efficiency of the management tasks at hand.