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Advice for Nonprofits in 2010

February 04, 2010

News that Yale University plans to cut staff and research initiatives to close a $150 million budget deficit and today's 3 percent drop in the S&P 500 should serves as a reminder to nonprofit leaders that it's still too early to run up the "all clear" flag on this economic downturn.

As one well-heeled donor told researchers at Dini Partners, a management and fundraising consulting firm with offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Denver: "The economy is like the Grand Canyon. The free fall is over, but there's a river to be crossed before we climb up the other side."

Dini has released the results of its 2010 Giving Projections survey and the picture they paint is, well, somber. The report also includes some recommendations that, if you're a nonprofit leader, are worth heeding:

1. Focus on board and leadership development.

2. Base your 2010 and future development programs on the foundation of a clear, well-articulated, compelling strategic plan.

3. Visit/communicate with as many of your donors as you can to learn whether it is mission, program, values, community impact, or timing that's most likely to drive their giving decisions in 2010 and beyond.

4. Avoid appeals intended to rescue the operating budget -- and if you resort to such an appeal, make sure it includes a clear statement of steps taken to mitigate the economic pressures on the organization.

5. Be as transparent as you can, especially with respect to financial matters.

Good advice. What would you to add the above?

-- Mitch Nauffts

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