What Do All Communities Want?…
The United States is made up of thousands of communities of all sizes, shapes and opportunities for growth and improvement. There are many different factors that make these communities individual and special. Despite all of the differences, each community has a basic set of desires for its community. Achieving those basic, but very necessary desires is where your non-profit organization crosses with the community. What are those basic community desires?
- NO Crime! What does the community start to look like when crime is eradicated? Individual safety and liberty increase and fear decreases. Eliminating the criminal element from our communities requires more than just policing and incarceration. It requires the rebuilding of our communities and solid foundations within the community to be established again. The community and the non-profit organizations needs to foster environments that create opportunity, drive upward mobility and create support networks to provide necessary resources.
- NO Hunger! The hunger epidemic in this country is astonishing. In 2012, 49 million Americans lived in food insecure households. 15.9 million of those impacted were children. (Hunger and Poverty Statistics, 2014) Eliminating hunger in a community is the perfect opportunity for the non-profit organization to partner with the community. Community leaders and residents have the best working knowledge of the community and the challenges faced every day.
- NO Homelessness! Non-profits in Atlanta, Georgia launched the “Unsheltered No More” project to reduce homelessness in the Atlanta region. On any given night approximately 7,000 Atlanta residents are homeless. (Covent Atlanta – )Non-profits partnered with the community and Mayor Reed’s office to collaborate and achieve very aggressive homeless reduction goals. This initiative has provided housing to 800 homeless people as of December 2013 and will continue to make great strides in 2014. All through the combined efforts of non-profits and the community.
Investing in the Community…
How do you know what you should be doing? There are so many issues to deal with it can be very overwhelming.
- FOCUS – First and foremost, focus on the mission of your non-profit. If you are a food bank, then work with the community to expand the reach of your food bank. The result would be fewer hungry boys and girls, men and women. If your non-profit works with transitioning foster children, then focus on helping them successfully transition. The impact of successful transition is less crime and elimination of hunger.
- ANALYZE – Meet with community leaders to perform program evaluations. Call this whatever you want; needs analysis, program study, strategic planning…just meet with local leaders to define the needs.
- ASSESS RESOURCES – Identify the required leadership to implement the program. Do you have the right team to get the job done [board and staff]? If not, what is required to accomplish the agenda?
- REACH OUT – One of the most important areas in which to spend your time is enlarging your sphere of influence. Expand your reach with local government officials, business owners, key executives, and other non-profits organizations in the area. Expanding your sphere of influence can lead to an increased volunteer base, new channels of funding and many other unexpected contributions.
- COMMUNITY 411 – Keep everyone in your organization up to date on what other non-profits are doing to serve the need of the community. Make you sure the communication between organizations flows both ways to ensure efforts do not get duplicated overlap unintentionally. The open communication also allows your organization to pool its resources with another organization and improve operating efficiency.
- Walk the Talk
- Credibility is everything. If you do not do what you say you are going to do, your influence and respect will diminish quickly. Even if you can make only a little progress, most times it is the little things that influence and move people to take action.
- Take time to draft an annual “state of the union” for your non-profit. Detail your organization’s key accomplishments and the impact made throughout the year. Send this information to top community leaders, top business leaders, political officials and all donors. Maintaining relevance within the community is an important component to making a bigger impact year over year.
From a presentation to non-profit leaders by James Sloan