A View from Blue Grotto

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The party principle

As I prepare to give my workshop on celebrating nonprofit milestones, I am reminded of all the discussions from our Beyond the Birthday Cake participants. I’ve worked with folks representing a nonprofit staff of one, volunteer coordinators, executive directors, and members of boards of directors. Many have gone on to be Blue Grotto clients, deploying thoughtful and clever tactics to celebrate, reinvigorate and, of course, raise money.

I reviewed proposals and PowerPoint presentations I’ve given over the last few years, and came up with a few salient bullet points for nonprofit staff and boards of directors to consider. Am delighted to share them as a blog post.

What anniversaries are not
Anniversaries are not simply a celebration of your organization’s past. The groundwork for your vision of the future is laid with an anniversary program, ensuring that the leaders of tomorrow are guided and inspired by yesterday’s dreams, ethics, and best practices. I use the term ‘leaders’ broadly in this statement – consider not only the leaders of your nonprofit, but also the individuals whose decision-making can impact your organization: members of the business, government and legislative, media, and philanthropic communities.

Anniversaries are not simply about throwing yourselves a party. A bash is a one-time event. A one-time event that costs money, and time, with a lingering message that only says: “That was a great party.” Unless you plan to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at your party, your nonprofit should be considering additional tactics - some that require little investment, but can offer amazing impact.

Anniversaries are organic…
Milestone activities should be reflective of your organization’s overall strategic direction and vision. Don’t get sucked into seductive tactics (like a party) that redirect your energies, often with diminishing returns.

Anniversaries are a non-manufactured opportunity to connect with key stakeholders. Consider audiences you would like to grow, or reconnect with, or audiences you would like an introduction to. What tactics will allow you to communicate with them?

You didn’t get to be 100, a half-century, a quarter century, or even five years old with out the hard work, determination, and development of your staff, directors, volunteers, funders, even your vendors. Celebrate in meaningful ways, reminding stakeholders of your stewardship of their resources, and highlighting the role they play in your history of success.

I am presenting the Beyond the Birthday Cake workshop for Hands On Twin Cities next week (November 10). Email me for more information, or with questions or suggestions on creative ways nonprofits are leveraging their milestones. I will blog again with suggestions that bubble up from participants next week. And remember, Tom Peters once reflected “Celebrate what you want to see more of.”

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.

Labels: ,