Tag Archives: Professional

Is Good Enough Reporting Limiting Your Funding?

When you choose a birthday gift for a family or close friend do you pick something good enough?

Would you return to a restaurant where the wait staff asks “Is your food good enough?”  instead of “Everything taste good?”

Probably not.   So why would you expect your funders, board members and partners to accept reports that are barely good enough.  And why would you accept good enough for your organization when you have an opportunity to be outstanding in the reporting of your accomplishments.

I am often told by funders that they provide funding to local organizations because they know the organization and its purpose.  The funders say they do not rely on reports because they are in regular contact with the organizations they fund by virtue of operating in the same community.  But even though this coziness makes it easy to get some funding, it also creates artificial limitations.  If you structure your reporting to only meet the expectations of the local funders who do not require much detail or measurement, you will minimize the possibility of appealing to regional and national funders and diminish your chances for larger funding opportunities.  Non-local funders do not know your organization and grantors who make large donations have complex expectations for reporting.  Good enough reporting keeps you local, outstanding reporting broadens your funding prospects.

 

Here are some things that will make your reporting outstanding:

  • Include measurements that matter. Say your goal is to increase the number of students that graduate from high school.  The appropriate measurement for your reporting is the number of students that graduated, not the number of ninth graders who got tutoring at your after school center.  Including statistics for activities along the path toward your goal (number of ninth graders tutored, number of parents trained, number of PTA speeches, number of eleventh graders who improved grades, etc.) can be appropriate.  Reporting these things in the proper manner help you demonstrate that your strategy is working and show what it takes to reach the goal.  This will justify the money, support or partnership you are seeking.  But the measurement should be the one that reaches your goal.
  • Treat your reports as marketing collateral. If a report is written properly it can be included in whole or in part with grant applications or partner proposals.  This not only saves you time down the road; it is also a real illustration of your accomplishments.  An actual report is more impressive than a description – it is tangible and more succinct.
  • Match your reporting to the goals of funders and potential partners you want to approach. In anticipation of seeking funding from a foundation or agency make yourself familiar with their goals.  In hope of collaborating with another organization be sure you understand their mission and goals.  Then include statistics and other information in your current reports that address those goals.  This serves several purposes:
    • Makes you look more broadly at the goals and actions of your organization or current project
    • Does future work now – if you have to write a report anyway, prepare it in a way that it can be used in the future thus eliminating duplicate work
    • Enhances the aspirations of your organization or project
  • Illustrate how your strategy and efforts are scalable. Most funders who do not limit their funding to a local community want things they fund to be scalable.  Usually funders require that a grant application and, especially, reports demonstrate scalability.  Thinking about how your program can be scaled – duplicated, expanded, built on – and showing that in reporting eliminates the artificial limitation that you can only get local funding.  Demonstrating scalability will not hurt you with local funders and it will certainly make regional and national funding a stronger possibility.

 

Some of you are probably thinking that reporting already takes up too much time, not to mention that it is annoying.  Just take a deep breath and read the above bullets again.  This time try to think of all the time you have spent writing a grant from scratch (because you could not use reports or anything else already written) and the frustration you felt when you did not get funding (because they didn’t see the value of your proposal, project, organization).

Bottom line – do reporting on a level that matches your aspirations not on a level that is good enough.

THIS IS MY HOUSE! Using Entrepreneur Characteristics to Improve Your Life (Part 1)

Entrepreneurs are not just business owners.  They are everywhere – managing departments, directing organizations, running households, overseeing projects, handling customer bases, leading fund raisers and raising children.

According to Wikepedia an Entrepreneur is a:  “Type of personality who is willing to take upon himself/herself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.”  The word comes from an Old French word entreprendre meaning “to undertake.”

Organization and agency directors seldom think this term applies to them because the term is normally capitalized – Entrepreneur – as if it is a title.

As an organization/agency director, getting comfortable with the Entrepreneur inside of you will help you improve all aspects of your life.  Honing the Entrepreneur skills you already possess will make you more successful in anything you undertake.

Here are some of the key Entrepreneur characteristics that can enhance the various parts of your life:

Ownership – Whether it is your organization, a project, a daily task or a campaign, understand that it belongs to you.  Treat it the way you treat anything that you own.  Accept the risks, nurture it, protect it, make it look good, enjoy the positives and overcome the negatives.  Ownership means you are invested in something and if you are invested you will work for success.  If you do not feel that you own it, the outcome will be totally dependent on someone else.

Organized – Organization is in the eyes of the beholder.  So use the methods and tools that work best for you and don’t worry if someone else tries to get you to do it their way.   But it is vital that you are organized in a manner that helps you accomplish the desired end result and retain your sanity.   Being organized usually involves having a plan, having appropriate information and/or tools and having a process that makes sense.   For instance: if you are in charge of a silent auction, a process will maximize proceeds and minimize frustration; if you are hoping for a donation a plan will make you proactive, which increases your chances.

Clearly Defined View of Success – Success is not the same for every person or every organization in every situation.  An Entrepreneur goes into a venture with a clear definition of what success will be.  If you can clearly describe what will be a successful project, day, event, assignment, negotiation, etc. you are more likely to attain that success and a sense of fulfillment.  If you do not have a defined view of success you will not know it if hits you in the face.

Flexible & Creative – Although you have already been encouraged to be organized, be careful not to be obsessive.  No matter how well you have planned and prepared, something outside your control will likely happen that will throw you off course or slow you down.  Do not stubbornly stay with your plan or process if it stops working.  We are often told to make lemonade when given lemons or to see obstacles as opportunities.  That is not always easy.  But if you incorporate flexibility and creativity into everyday life you can adapt any plan, process or situation to the current circumstances.  Again, less frustration – more success.

Self Disciplined – An Entrepreneurial organization director has no one else to blame, often no one to make decisions, and certainly no one to save the day.  If a director has no self-discipline, he/she soon has no organization.  Self-discipline is equally important in anything you may undertake.  If you are baking goodies for a bake sale you must exercise enough control not to sample too much or you will eat the profits and the evidence will show up on your thighs.  When you are working on a project that has a deadline you must be disciplined enough to not wait until the last minute to complete tasks, because something unforeseen will happen.

Be sure to read the second part of this blog.

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