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New Year’s Resolutions for Nonprofits

10 Achievable Goals for Volunteer Programs

We can’t believe it’s already 2023! As the holiday rush settles, January offers an  opportunity for respite, reflection, and time to plan for the rest of the year. 

Your organization can embrace the fresh energy of the new year, too! It’s your chance to gather as a team, reflect on last year’s successes, reevaluate current practices, and establish your organization’s intentions moving forward. 

To get you started, here are 10 achievable New Year’s resolutions that your organization can stick to!

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Nonprofits:

  1. Keep Up with Nonprofit Trends
  2. Pursue Professional Development Opportunities
  3. Set Achievable Goals
  4. Take Supporter Appreciation to the Next Level
  5. Get Social
  6. Grow Your Board with Intention
  7. Volunteer with Your Community Partners
  8. Refresh Your Data Tracking
  9. Update Your Website and Technology
  10.  Take Time to Celebrate

1. Keep Up with Nonprofit Trends

Is your organization adapting to changes in the way your community—and the world—operates? What do you need to know about the latest in charitable giving, disaster preparedness, cyber security, volunteer engagement, or donor retention?

Keeping up with it all can seem like an overwhelming task. In 2023, resolve to spend some time each week browsing the latest on the trends that are most important to you. 

At Get Connected by Galaxy Digital, we make it a priority to keep up with nonprofit trends–and we’re eager to share our knowledge! We write about volunteer recruitment, employing today’s technologies, and leveraging corporate philanthropy. Follow our blog, along with your other favorite resources, to boost your knowledge throughout the year. You’ll thank yourself later!

2. Pursue Professional Development Opportunities

As a nonprofit leader, you are well aware of the importance of staying up-to-date in your field. Due to rapid advances in technology, a changing volunteer landscape, and and the rise of virtual volunteerism, if you and your team aren’t creating time for professional development, you risk falling behind.

This year, invest in both yourself and your existing staff through training and professional development opportunities. The pursuit of continuous growth will empower you and can ultimately help you to improve your community. Identify a skill you would like to improve, a gap in your knowledge, or an attitude you’d like to change, and get to work in 2023! Attend a conference, find a workshop, log in to a webinar…or resolve to read that book you’ve been meaning to get to!

Here is a list of professional development materials to get your started:

3. Set Achievable Goals—and Celebrate!’

Goals are important; they guide our work and help us grow. Set SMART goals with targets that are challenging but achievable for yourself, your organization, and your volunteers. For every goal, have a plan of action that outlines steps and indicators of success.

Some achievable goals your organization can work towards:

  • Number of volunteer responses
  • Number of hours volunteered total or by program
  • Fundraising goals with incremental sprint goals 

Your volunteer management software will keep track of your progress and generate reports that will demonstrate your organization’s achievements. Don’t forget to celebrate victories large and small–you’ll boost morale and feel motivated to move forward!

4. Take Supporter Appreciation to the Next Level

Saying “thank you” is a simple act that is a critical component of your volunteer engagement and retention plan. It only takes a moment, yet volunteer appreciation is one of your most important tools for building and maintaining relationships with your nonprofit’s supporters.

After the whirlwind of seasonal volunteerism, events, and holiday campaigns, the last thing on your mind may be thanking the people who made it all possible. But when done well, a simple “thank you” can encourage future giving and involvement in your organization. 

Personal thank you’s show that you appreciate each contribution; so while a “thank you” email is great, a personal phone call or handwritten note is even better! 

Check out this article for the best ways to thank your holiday campaign contributors.

Invest in Relational Fundraising in 2023

Statistics are showing us that individual giving to nonprofits has increased over the past 5 years. Now, the majority of philanthropy (69% to be exact!) in the United States comes directly from individuals! What’s more, nearly two-thirds of volunteers say they make their annual financial contributions to the same organizations they volunteer with regularly! 

The relationships you’re building with all of your individual supporters are key to the sustainability of your organization. Taking your supporter appreciation to the next level goes a long way in cultivating these vital relationships long-term.

5. Engage on Social Media

A social media presence can drive growth and even increase your program’s return on investment. In essence, social media acts as marketing for nonprofit organizations. It supports your other efforts; email outreach, fundraising events, and other advertising. 

By engaging on social media effectively, nonprofits can gain exposure, increase fundraising efforts and recruit potential volunteers, and even drive social change.

Here are just a few ways to increase your organization’s visibility with social media:

  • Start the new year with a nonprofit social media strategy! Outline how you will reach target groups and the kinds of information you want to share. 
  • Engage your audience! Set a goal of a 100% response rate on social media. Address comments on your primary social networks with warm responses; your audience will feel like you care about their feedback. 
  • Create content with impact! Social media is all about people sharing with people. The content that is most popular is often the most grassroots. You’ll want to center your mission and the people who make it happen. Video, photos, and sharing stories will go far!

Don’t have a social media or communications program? Make it your goal to build one this year! If you don’t have the budget for a dedicated staff member, consider assigning a tech savvy volunteer to the role. Just make sure that they think about longevity and a long-term messaging strategy so that your organization remains consistent in communicating your impact story on social media. 

For more about crafting a social media strategy, give this article a read.

6. Build your Board…with Intention

Your board should represent the diverse voices of your community. Bring on members who are directly involved in the community you serve. Reach out to those who care about your cause and will bring new insight or skill sets to the team. Many nonprofits are now requiring board members to volunteer across their programs throughout the year. 

Building your nonprofit board with intention is driving many organizations to consider: how are our board members deeply connected to and informed about our programs and our mission? When board members stay connected to the daily functions of your organization, their decisions will be informed by real-world experience and the important data they need to create sustainable plans for your organization’s future.

7. Volunteer with a Community Partner (or Three)!

Many nonprofits have been focused on developing strategic community partnerships. Taking the time to volunteer within those community partner organizations is key to sustaining these relationships! 

This is your chance to learn more about your community partners and show that you care about their cause. When you volunteer with partner organizations, you’ll get to know their supporters and advocates, as well as community members served! 

The best way to recruit volunteers is to be one! And volunteering with your community partners is not only a show of goodwill and commitment to the partnership, but also a healthy cross-pollination of your organization’s mission in the community as well!

8. Create Your Data Tracking Plan

A new year means new volunteers, community partners, and needs. Start your year off right by cleaning up your volunteer database.

When your database is well-organized, you’ll be able to focus more on volunteer engagement, recruitment, and fundraising. Here is one way you can approach your data audit this new year:

Complete a data audit

Ask yourself what data your organization is currently collecting.

  • Do you have all of the general information like volunteer names, addresses, emails, and contact information?
  • Have you been collecting individual volunteer hours for each person? 
  • Are you tracking hours spent volunteering for your special events?

Determine what new information you need this year 

Once you complete your audit, you can look for gaps in the information you are collecting from volunteers.You’ll also want to think about data that will help your organization achieve efficiency in the coming year or any necessary data for grant applications. 

  • Are you able to pull hours logged from specific time periods, services, and programs? 
  • Do you know how many people your program has served or projects you’ve completed? 
  • Do you want to begin sending happy birthday emails, start collecting volunteers’ birth dates during registration?
  • Do you want to collect other pertinent information, like their t-shirt size and whether they’ve donated to your cause before?

Find any incomplete records

Make sure to correct any outdated data, and fill in anything that may be missingVerify that names are spelled correctly, and that you have all other information that is important to your organization. Comb your data for invalid emails, duplicate contacts, and keep an eye out for missing volunteer and partner information. 

By cleaning up your database, you give your organization the best chance for efficiency and success throughout the new year. Investing a few hours into cleaning up your data will save you a lot of time come annual report season.

9. Update Your Website–and Your Technology

Breathe new life into your volunteer management processes and tools. A great place to start is by refreshing your volunteer website. Highlight new opportunities and change up your pictures. A visual refresh will keep volunteers clicking through your website—and they may just stumble upon a new activity they’ll love! 

While you’re reviewing your website, ensure your volunteer management tools are also up to date. There are some exciting volunteer management technologies on the market that can help you simplify volunteer scheduling, hours tracking, impact reporting, and much more. 2023 is the year to welcome efficiency and increase your return on investment!

Make sure you look into the capabilities of your existing software programs and subscriptions. Are you familiar with all the tools at your disposal? Often, organizations purchased software several years prior and haven’t kept up with new upgrades and feature releases.

Take the time to learn exactly what your software subscription is capable of, take advantage of training opportunities, and investigate whether additional software modules will help you more efficiently accomplish the tasks ahead of you in 2023.

10. Take Time to Celebrate!

We’re all guilty of it – all work and no play – but taking the time to pause and celebrate the important wins along the way makes a big difference when it comes to morale! Many nonprofits are so focused on winning the big grant, throwing a successful year-end campaign, or fundraising for additional programming that they may forget to pause and celebrate their achievements. While planning for the future is key to success, savoring the now allows us to feel fulfilled and engaged.

You’re likely busy moving onto the next initiative, but try to make a resolution this year to stop and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished. Find time at the beginning of your next board or staff meeting to bring in coffee and donuts, or maybe have a small reception at the end of the work day to say thank you to your staff. Small gestures re-energize the people who make this all possible!

We hope these suggestions inspire you to get planning. With achievable goals in mind, your organization will be ready to take on another year of cultivating good in your community!

Additional Resources

How Volunteer Data Can Unlock Funding

4 Ways a Nonprofit CRM Can Improve Volunteer Relations

Preventing Burnout: Strategies for Keeping Nonprofits and their Volunteers Going Strong

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