Tag Archives: Nonprofit consulting

Compassion Fatigue How to Care for Your Staff

Compassion Fatigue: How to Care for Your Staff

People that are driven to work for nonprofit organizations are often compelled by an intense sense of compassion for vulnerable, often marginalized people and by societal issues that demand advocacy and action.

The responsibilities that these employees take on can be difficult and time-consuming as well as often exhausting and heart-breaking. Nonprofits often exist because there are significant gaps in our society’s systems. If these needs did not occur then these agencies would not have a reason to open their doors and employ those called to serve.

But the needs are there, and fortunately, there are a myriad of nonprofit organizations that address a seemingly endless supply of issues for people and the communities in which they live. And thankfully, there are nonprofit employees who devote their skills and generous hearts to these causes, but sometimes at a cost to their own well-being.

Addressing compassion fatigue is a critical component that nonprofit leadership must maintain at the forefront of caring for staff. The well-being of each employee, from an organizational standpoint, can reflect the success of services provided by a nonprofit. From a human standpoint, it is simply the right thing to do, especially when many employees are providing direct services to often the most vulnerable clients.

Stress Management and Self-Care

Take a good hard look at what your employees face every day. They are aiding people and communities who are often suffering from illness, homelessness, or a variety of traumas. The hopelessness and despair that often accompany these issues can infiltrate staff members’ lives and manifest in both physical and mental health issues.

Decision-makers, in combination with nonprofit consulting firms, should create a strategy that cares for their employees as deliberately as they care for their needy clients. A safe and compassionate work environment is the best place to start treating staff with the same thoughtfulness they give to the community every day.

Sometimes the simplest measures can produce the most beneficial results. Allow employees the opportunity to decompress after particularly stressful or traumatic situations. Staff members often cannot solve their clients’ problems, and this can contribute to a sense of failure or feeling hopeless. Time away from the office to rest and re-energize can alleviate the impact of weighty job responsibilities as well. Remind staff to take vacation days and to not resort to overtime.

No one employed at a nonprofit organization can function in a silo. Collaboration is vital in both their own workplace and with partner agencies. Nonprofit leadership should encourage personal connections both internally and externally so that employees have peers who understand the work conditions as well as offer advice to cope.

It is important to encourage staff members to have some fun. Allow for some planned events like potluck lunches or seasonal get-togethers. Share success stories and highlight employees who have made meaningful contributions to your mission. And never forget that even the smallest recognition of an employee’s value can contribute to building positive feelings.

The Role of Professional Help

While all of these efforts offer benefits, sometimes it becomes necessary to harness the mental health expertise of professionals. Don’t think of this as a last resort. Instead, think of this as enlisting counselors as an added component of self-care and a part of the organization’s commitment to staff mental health. We realize that this will not always be a necessary or reasonable avenue for some nonprofit, but it is important to know your options.

Make sure that all employees receive training about mental health literacy and how to identify the signs of compassion fatigue. They will often realize that irritability and loss of sleep are manifestations of difficult workplace circumstances as well as recurring feelings of despair and lack of focus.

Whether through one-on-one conversations or in group meetings, mental health therapists can help employees learn how compassion fatigue may be affecting them and how to navigate this sometimes-vicarious trauma so they can maintain optimum well-being.

Nonprofit employees, especially those who provide direct services to highly vulnerable people and societal issues, risk their own mental health while caring for others. It is not only professionally essential but ethically critical to care for employees with the same heartfelt compassion as those who strive to make the world a better place for all.

We would love to share more examples of low-cost self-care options you can provide your employees with. Contact KM Clark Consulting today to set up a free discovery session with us!

Why Defining Your Target Audience Is Important

Why Defining Your Nonprofit’s Target Audience is Important

Knowing your target audience or the specific group you want to affect with your messaging may seem like a simple and easy task, but it’s truly a foundational item to any organization, especially a nonprofit. After all, you want to be impactful and it’s hard to have meaningful and impactful conversations without knowing whom you’re speaking to. Right?

So let’s talk about it. Does your nonprofit organization know their target audience? Maybe you do or maybe you’re still refining who they are. If you aren’t sure yet who your target audience is… let’s take a look!

Defining your target audience

Your target audience could be multiple groups of people depending on why you are embarking on a marketing plan. Do you need more volunteers? Money? Clients? Below are examples of some typical nonprofit target audiences:

Let’s look at an example. Your organization is looking at increasing donations for the year so your board wants to create a plan around this.

Who do you think your target audience is in this circumstance?

It could be current donors or it could be potential.

But, which is your team looking to increase? Do you want current donors to give more or give more often? Or are you looking for new donors?
Can you see how creating a plan for these two similar but very different groups would not be the same? Potential donors may not know anything about your organization, so you couldn’t send them an email that jumps right into asking them to increase their donation… they don’t even know who you are yet! However, that approach might work for a current donor.

Closing

If you already know your nonprofit’s target audience or audiences… think about the following questions.

Do you know what inspires your target audience? What do they care most about? How do they like to be communicated with? How does this audience feel about your organization?

Continue to ask questions… Dig deep. Treat your audiences like a new relationship. You want to know more and more about them, taking time to understand them is key to any non profit organization!

Feeling overwhelmed trying to define your nonprofit’s target audience? KM Consulting Group can help. Contact our nonprofit consulting agency to learn how we can help.

Creating a Strong Mission & Vision Statement

Creating a Strong Nonprofit Mission & Vision Statement

In the nonprofit world we talk, what seems sometimes endlessly, about our mission and vision statements. Who hasn’t been in a meeting where the entire hour was filled with disagreements over this word or that word and in the end you still didn’t have a finalized product? It can be overwhelming, stressful and emotional to create these statements.  It doesn’t have to be!  We want to help make it a better process for you, your organization and all those involved.

Before we move into tips… let’s talk about definitions.

According to Oxford Dictionary, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.

A strong mission statement:

  • Answers the questions “What you do + who/what you do this for”
  • Is clear and easy to understand to anyone inside or outside the organization

It is what you want to accomplish for who and how.

A great example of a mission statement is from the Girl Scouts of America.

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character,
who make the world a better place. 

The Girl Scouts answer all the strong missing statement questions. What they do: builds girls of courage, confidence and character. Who they do it for: girls, and to make the world a better place. It is also clear and easy to understand for anyone.

Not too hard, right?

Okay so we have the definition of the mission statement, now let’s move onto the vision statement.

A vision statement is typically a broader statement or idea that your nonprofit organization is striving for. It should read like the headline of a news article…pull you in while being short and concise.

The vision statement is the ideal world that will exist if your mission is completed. 

A great example of a mission statement is from the Alzheimer’s Association.

A world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Would this make a good headline? Is it short, clear and easy to understand by those inside and outside of the organization?

Yes! It definitely is.

Okay, so you have the definitions… Now what? How do you take this information and put it into action with your organization?

Well the starting point is as easy as looking at these definitions in comparison to your current mission or vision statement, if you have one, then you can begin adjusting from there.

However, if you don’t have either of these statements, let’s get into what your next steps might be.

Create them as a team.
Whether it’s your board of directors or a small group starting your organization, build these foundational pieces together. Gaining viewpoints from multiple people will allow the organization to create a mission and vision statement that best encompasses what the organization truly stands for and ensure it is understandable to the greater community.

Unsure of how to facilitate this kind of meeting? Download our two favorite Activities to Facilitate Creating your Organization’s Mission and Vision Statement.

Make it a living statement.
Just because your organization creates a mission and vision statement now, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed later. As your organization grows, as you learn more about what you stand for and as changes come, you want to allow your mission and vision statements to reflect those changes.

This is especially important for those of you who have a current mission and/or vision statement. It’s alright to review it, in fact, it’s GOOD to review it! If you haven’t reviewed it in several years, it’s time. Make sure it is still in line with your organizational goals and values.

Learn it. Know it. Repeat it.
Now that you’ve written the best mission and vision statement for your organization, make sure everyone knows it. No, you don’t have to be that annoying kid on the playground who is constantly talking about themselves… but you should know your mission and vision statements. And so should your board members and other members of your organization. Be intentional about using them on all written communications including emails, agendas, and business cards.  Ensure that board members and volunteers acknowledge their involvement in the nonprofit in their other pursuits whether as a school board representative, Rotary Club member or church leader with others outside the organization.  Provide them with materials with the mission and vision statements.

Then it leaks out into the community and THAT is how real change begins.

If you’d rather have an outside set of eyes to help in this process, reach out to our nonprofit consulting agency! We have years of experience with helping nonprofit organizations build strong brands, including their mission and vision statements. Get in touch with KM Clark Consulting Group, and we’ll set up a call to see how we can best help.

Don’t forget to download our favorite activities to help facilitate creating your mission and vision statement!.

Celebrating Success

Celebrating Nonprofit Success Every Year

It’s hard to believe that we are quickly approaching the end of 2021 but somehow we are just a few weeks away from the new year. And with the new year comes new goals, new resolutions and new to-do lists. But before you get too caught up with the start of 2022, you should take a look back at 2021 and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished.

Okay, you might be thinking… we don’t have time to celebrate, we have a mile long to-do list and deadlines coming up. Look, we get it. Nonprofits have a lot on their plates and are usually doing it with just a handful of people. However, if we don’t look back and celebrate our successes it can be difficult to see how far we’ve come and find joy in our work when things get busy and stressful.

So let’s get into a few reasons why we think celebrating is worth being at the top of your to-do list before jumping into 2022.

Celebrating boosts wellbeing

I previously worked for a small nonprofit organization as the only paid staff person. Every day was full and exhausting and I’m sure I’m not a minority in this. Many nonprofit organizations are doing the work of 10 employees with 2 or 3 employees.  And with 30% of nonprofit workers being burnt out, it’s probably easy to say that wellbeing could always use a boost!

A social psychology researcher, Fred Bryant, is the father researcher of “savoring” and says that when we savor the positive things that happen it can help provide a barrier to the negative things and help build resilience. So even celebrating small victories can bring on positive emotions that can help with daily stresses.

Shows how much you’ve accomplished

It’s easy to fall into a routine of constantly moving onto the next task and the next task and the next task, forgetting what you’ve accomplished. But when you take a beat to look back at all of the small tasks that have led to bigger victories, it helps you realize how much work has actually gone into it. For example, let’s say one of your big goals for the year was to work with the school system for activities like Red Ribbon Week, sports event and Prom. And guess what? You made it happen! It’s an exciting time for your organization. And you could easily see the excitement and quickly move on to… now let’s work on not only working alongside the schools for these events, but let’s get into every health class once a month. It could be easy to think “getting involved in these events was the easy part, we have much more work to do!” But wait… what about all those meetings it took with different school administrators to get here. Or what about all the times you spoke at different meetings with parents to explain the importance of your organization being in the school. Or all those brainstorming sessions with your staff on best ways to hit your message home… we could probably keep listing things you did to get to this point.

See what we mean? It’s not just the celebration of the overall goal that is important. Looking back and reviewing the details that got you there will show you how much work you actually did and make your accomplishments that much more exciting. This will also give you a great boost in creating a “Year-End Review” for partners, current/potential funders and members of your organization. You can download our free Year-End Review template here to give you a head start.

Staff retention

Remember what we said earlier about burnout for nonprofit workers? That’s real… and it’s a big reason nonprofits have so much turnover. Want to stop hiring a new coordinator every year? Start celebrating! The big, the small and everything in between. Make sure your staff knows the work they are doing is appreciated.

Now… you tell me to celebrate… okay, we got it. But… How?! When?! Where?! Keep reading for some realistic tips you can implement to make celebrating simple and part of your organization’s culture.

Find a quiet space and remember alone.

Grab a piece of paper or whatever electronic device you may use and start remembering. Look through your calendar, quarterly or monthly reports from the year, your organization’s social media pages or anywhere that you have kept things that have happened over the year. Then write them down.

I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the accomplishments you may have forgotten about. Once you have those “bigger” pieces written down, start writing down some of the steps you remember that got you to that accomplishment. Do this for every single one.

At the end you should have a pretty long list of accomplishments and all the work that went into getting them done.

This is an especially great activity for those organizations who may only have 1 or 2 staff members.

Remember Together

If you have staff, a group of board members or volunteers do a similar activity with them as a group! A great way to start this is by sending an email explaining what you’re asking of them. That way they have a chance to do a review alone and bring a list to the meeting. Then set a time either virtually or in person to review what everyone has come up with.

We would almost guarantee that others will come up with some tasks or accomplishments that you forgot about that really impacted them. It’s a great way to hear from others, give them a voice and build community within your organization.

Throw a Celebration

This one is where you can get creative or keep it simple. There are so many options when it comes to doing a celebration. Virtual or in person; invite staff, volunteers, board members, community partners and share the successes you have uncovered in the previous above sessions. Give out “superlatives” for partner of the year or person with the most volunteer hours. If you’re in-person maybe have food or light snacks. If the budget is there, have giveaways. You can also pencil in time at an upcoming meeting or event to do this.

We hope this gives you a fresh outlook on why celebrating success – big or small – is so important, and that you’re able to implement some of these tips into your organization this year.

And remember, whatever you choose, make it work for your organization. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to celebrating.

The Importance of Looking Back

From Year-End Reviews to Strategic Planning for the New Year

Evaluating your year is important, especially as a nonprofit organization. Today we will discuss who to do your evaluation with, how to do it, including prompts and templates, ways to use your year-end review and how to move forward in the coming year.

Who should be involved

Make it a group effort! Your leadership, staff, board members, and other volunteers are of the utmost importance in conducting a year-end review. Give them the chance to share their experience of the year and provide a safe environment for them to do so.

How to do it

The best part about this one… it’s easy! Gather a list of prompts, questions like… “On a scale from 1-10 (10 being very successful), what would you rate the level of success of the organization and why?” or “What has been our greatest loss/challenge as an organization this year?”

Prompts are there to help lead the conversation, but they don’t have to stifle other discussions that come up. Let the conversation flow naturally – at least if you’re doing this in person or as a virtual group!

If your organization is currently not meeting in person or you’d rather let them have time to think about their answers, think about setting up an online survey to send out via email. If you take this option just make sure to give plenty of time to fill it out and provide a deadline for them.

Ways to Present

Now we don’t just do year-end reviews for nothing! Your organization has done the hard work, now let it work for you.
Here are a few options we like:

  • Make it the highlight of your December or January newsletter
  • Send via email to funders or by mail with a handwritten note
  • For those involved in any successes of the year, send them a copy with a thank you note or present
  • Send to potential funders
  • Create a small social media campaign or write a blog with condensed information.

Keep the information simple by using our Year-End Review Template. Get the download as PDF or Docx.

Moving Forward.

Take time to review all of the feedback and give leadership time to do the same. Ask questions of the feedback like, “Was the leadership surprised by any of the comments?” “Were they different from yours?” or “What changes do you want to make moving forward?”

As nonprofit leaders work is never done. There is always an emerging issue to address or a person in need to care for. This is why intentionality with our work is so important.

By integrating a year-end review now, you are setting the organization up to easily transition into strategic planning. Strategic planning doesn’t have to be long retreats or an overwhelming SWOT analysis. It can be as simple as gathering information.

Got questions? Reach out to KM for a free discovery call to find out how to integrate effective strategic planning into your organization that increases engagement and accountability for future success.


Looking for more? Watch our full webinar on this topic for free here.

Don’t forget to download our Year-End Review template as PDF or Docx.