Budgeting Tips from Rock Environmental

Budgeting for nonprofits.

A nonprofit’s budget can be the bane of an organization’s existence. For organizations that rely on grants, this can mean even more uncertainty. This can mean planning years in advance and multiple revisions to a budget prior to board approval. The involvement of non-financial staff can serve to complicate the process even further.

At Rock Environmental, we have found a number of helpful ways to conduct the budgeting process.

Getting the proverbial “ducks in a row” is the first step to successful budgeting. Organization wide cooperation is key to a smooth budgeting process. All departments should be involved in not only aggregating the necessary financial information but contributing feedback regarding future budgeting needs.

Plan ahead when looking into the revenue streams. What are your organization’s short and long term goals and how can budgeting best serve these goals? Operating costs can take a significant amount of your organization’s budget so proper planning for allocating the non-operating costs can help to make the most of programming and community outreach efforts.

Take stock of the current revenue and ensure that planned expenses come in below this bar. Additional planned donations including pledges and other revenue sources can be taken into consideration but having a diverse number of revenue streams is important for creating a balance should one disappear.

Be concise when delivering the budget documents. The budget should be readable though, so keep notes to a minimum. Presentation is also important. Take time to organize all the information and make tracking it easy for everyone.

Understanding the year to year fluctuations is important so multiyear budgets can help with more long term planning, especially if operating costs are holding fairly steady. This can allow you and your board to plan ahead for future expenses as well as understand the baseline costs that must be accounted for.

Still feel overwhelmed?  Let Rock Environmental do the numbers for you or work with your existing staff to make sure you do have those duck in a row…

Consulting services from Rock Environmental offer comprehensive support for back-of-house services, including budgeting, capital campaign design and management, and other strategic financial planning. Contact us directly to learn more about these services via email at info@rockenvironmental.com.

 

How to Make Email Marketing Work for Your Nonprofit

Email Marketing

Email campaigns can be a vital part of any nonprofit’s outreach efforts. Email has become an invaluable resource for many as it allows for direct contact with donors, volunteers and others interested in the work a nonprofit does.

How can your nonprofit take advantage of these valuable opportunities and maximize on each contact opportunity?

At Rock Environmental, we focus our email efforts on expanding the donor base and mission of each nonprofit we work with. Let us create email campaigns for you, which allows us to send targeted messages to different audiences and take full advantage of such services. Our email strategies have been fine tuned after many years of doing email campaigns, so we’ve learned about the pitfalls that many nonprofits encounter. Here’s a few of those pitfalls – and our recommendations for readjusting your next campaign to get better results.

Mass messaging – One size does not fit all, especially in the world of nonprofits. This means that content should be tailored to the audience you are messaging. To do this:

  • Consider making groups for your contacts to help you organize them. Groups like Corporate Partners, Annual Donors, Large Denomination Donors, Volunteers, etc. will help you to pinpoint the type of messages you will be sending to each respective group. Many email management services, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, allow you to set these groups up, manage them and then send targeted emails.
  • Create an email outline or plan that will help keep the content organized. This allows you to feature upcoming events, success stories and other information in a strategic way.

Disorganized Email Lists – Consider using a management service like the aforementioned.

  • Not only will your email lists be managed and organized, these services also allow for customized email formatting, design and analytics information.
  • Analytics information allows you to track what types of emails are most attractive or interesting to your readers based on click rates, interactions, linkouts and other factors. All of this data can be found via the management software. These services are typically charged based on the number of emails being sent, and are generally very affordable.

Cluttered emails – Most people are checking emails on mobile devices. On a small screen, too much text can overwhelm the reader and prevent them from actually retaining any of the content. A good approach to emails is to draft the content first, then spend time cutting down extensively.

  • Pull out the ‘fluff’ information and leave only the ‘meat’ of the message.
  • Consider using images (related to your email’s subject), dividers and other formatting tricks to break up larger paragraphs of content into more manageable pieces.

Irrelevant content – This goes hand in hand with targeting specific people in your email list. The same information may not be pertinent to donors, partners and volunteers.

  • For example, if you have group-specific information, such as asking for help with a volunteer event, it should only be shared with the volunteer list.
  • General information can be shared with the entire list like upcoming outreach programs and annual reports.

Missing CTA – A Call To Action, or CTA, is the key to a successful email campaign. What do you want the audience to do after reading your email?

  • This will vary with audience and content however, a defined CTA is crucially important to promoting action. Whether you are looking for new volunteers, donations, help with new programming or feedback about your last event, be sure to draw attention to the CTA early in your email and reiterate it by the end to ensure it’s not overlooked.

 

These are just a few of the most common mistakes we find in email campaigns done by nonprofits. By making these small changes, along with a few others, your nonprofit’s next email campaign has the potential to be both engaging and intentional and will hopefully bring in new donors and continue the generosity of others.

If you’re worried about your next email campaign strategy, don’t have the time or staff/volunteers, or would like the advice or guidance of the experts at Rock Environmental, visit our website at http://www.rockenvironemental.com. There you can find a list of services we provide, as well as contact information to get in touch with us about your next email campaign.

Looking forward to hearing from you!