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Dumb bells out! Getting you match fit for 2020

Julia Keady,
13 December 2019

Fifteen specialists from The Xfactor Collective social impact community share the tips they are sharing with clients, on how organisations can truly thrive in 2020.


Julia Keady, CEO and Concierge Services Director

When it comes to growth and transformation, savvy CEOs are thinking differently about talent and support, with one CEO telling me recently that “outsourcing is the new resourcing”.

Outsourcing with trusted suppliers can provide more fluidity, flexibility and ultimately more bench strength to the organisation, and it can also be a way of weather the skills gap storm.

Another CEO told me that to have “depth” in their team, they decided to take a new approach with how they resourced certain functions such as marketing, media relations, social media which was around working with specialist agencies who had depth and knowledge beyond what they could potentially bring into the organisation using traditional approaches.

Another way that organisations are dealing with the sector’s current skills gap is to have a budget for mentoring and coaching across their teams (and for themselves), and we will start to see more people move across to provide these support services in an exciting new wave of ‘consulting/coaching’ services.

We’ll see less “I need it done yesterday” demand on internal and external teams, as savvy leaders sit down with specialists to take a longer view and perspective over 12-18 months to plan for resourcing/outsourcing requirements, recognising the interconnectedness and holistic nature of achieving growth, scale and transformation.


Tanya Hundloe, Partnerships and Fundraising Specialist

If you see 2020 as a year for growth in corporate partnerships, here are three key tips to being prepared.

Understand your organisation’s positioning. Spend time with colleagues unpacking your organisation’s values, brand promise and what you want to achieve. Clearly articulating your values, objectives, the impact you want to make and how you measure it, will help you gain alignment and collaboration with like-minded companies.

Identify your assets. Don’t limit this to acknowledgment of the corporate’s support. Corporations are keen to partner with organisations that provide creative, ethical experiences for employees and customers. Think about new activations to package into your value proposition.

Understand your costs. Develop a detailed budget for each partnership including all your hard costs, time delivering the benefits and reporting and opportunity costs. Only then can you be sure that you will be asking for an amount that will add value to your organisation.


Julie Weldon, Communications Specialist

From a communications perspective, start by getting your team on the same page.

Employees or volunteers – old and new – must understand what you do, why you exist, your priorities and your values. Don't assume everyone knows – use the New Year to re-engage and re-energise your people.

The world is in a state of flux, and no organisation is immune. Issues can quickly escalate to crises, irrespective of whether you've made a simple but unfortunate mistake, or it's something external, such as a cyber-attack or natural disaster. So, make sure your issues management plan is current, and the right people know what – and where - it is.

Finally, update your SEO. More and more people are asking Alexa or Siri and not touching a keyboard. That means that your SEO needs to become more conversational if people are to know what you do, where – and why.


Brenda Mainland, Research Specialist

All good personal trainers tailor their fitness programs to suit the goals of their individual customers. They’ll spend time understanding what’s important, what the strongest motivators are and what success will look like. And that’s what I think organisations need to do in 2020 to get “stakeholder fit”.

Only instead of using dumb bells and kettle balls, smart organisations will harness the modern research tools and methods available to help you better understand your stakeholders. Who are they? What motivates them? How can you best serve their interests? How are they different from each other?

Deeper understanding of your community will drive stronger ties and help you to tell the stories that resonate with them. When done correctly, you can build powerful profiles of your stakeholders, so you can tailor your messages, and also gather a constant stream of new ideas and feedback. And just like any fitness program, it becomes a self-perpetuating activity, the more you know and learn, the fitter your organisation will be.


Roland Maxwell, Digital/IT Specialist

You use your website differently from your customers, so you see it differently.

Your customers come to your website because they want to do something, e.g. seek information, sign-up, donate. They judge the:

  • speed it downloads
  • ease of discovery and quality of information
  • ease with which they can do tasks. People resent online processes that are confusing or cumbersome.

You don’t do the same tasks as your customers, and you probably see your homepage more often than they do, so you get bored with its appearance.

 Before you redevelop your website, ask yourself: Is our content well-targeted, succinct? Is it easy to do the tasks we want our customers to do? Are there unmet needs? 

People appreciate a website that is honest, helpful and effective. Tuning content and usability may deliver better results than a redesign.


Jo Garner, Fundraising and Grants Specialist

Strong donor relationships, ability to measure and report on your successes (and learnings) and clear strategic and operational plans. These are the three key success factors to focus on in 2020, for those seeking government and philanthropic funding.

Funders want to engage with the organisations they invest in. From preliminary phone calls before applying, to progress updates and final reports, grantors are keen to hear the changes and benefits resulting from their investment in your projects. Engaged partnerships are typically those that result in multi-year and larger grant amounts and to engage properly, you must demonstrate how you monitor performance and evaluate the results.

Evaluation frameworks should be embedded at project planning stage to enable measurement of the changes that have occurred, and projects should align with your strategic and operational plans. These three best practice business strategies generally equate to funding success!


Jonathan Wright, Donor Data Specialist

The New Year is great time to take stock of the health of our fundraising, and a good way to do this is to conduct review of your fundraising effectiveness through an audit of your donor data.

Your own donors are the greatest source for future revenue, and in many cases just 5-10% of a charity’s donors can account for 50-70% of revenue. A good donor insights review helps to identify these donors, will inform you of their retention rates, their expected value over time and the opportunities that exist to retain and maximise revenue from them.

Knowing more about your donors will help deliver great substantial benefits in the year ahead across a range of activities, such as appeals, regular giving upgrades, bequest prospecting, major giving campaigns, retention activity, and finding new and similar donors to grow your donor file.


Jodie Willmer, Governance and Organisational Planning Specialist

Most strategic plans have a funny line …“create sustainable and diverse incomes streams’ but Boards don’t spend much time coming up with new ideas. Here are some handy tips on ways that your Board and Executive Management to think differently about income diversification and how to take action to get results.

Allocate 30 minutes on your first Board meeting agenda and answer these questions:

  1. What have we tried that didn’t work?
  2. What did we learn?
  3. What next steps do we need to action what’s already in our plan?
  4. What products/services are we providing for free or low cost that that other people can purchase at a higher price?
  5. What intellectual property can we monetise like training, workshops or knowledge?
  6. How could we reach new audiences using online learning platforms or consulting services?

Justine Cubbin, Graphic Design Specialist

Organisations will want to embrace a few graphic design ‘trends’ to help communicate your marketing messages clearly:

  1. Embrace the white space: We have millions of messages coming at us all day, every day. In this overly busy, overstimulated world, utilising clean, uncluttered visuals will communicate your marketing message much quicker and easier.
  2. Expand your brand: Develop a suite of icons that consumers associate with your services and that can be used for infographics. These will gain the attention of your consumers much quicker than text will.
  3. Don’t ignore the power of print: With the amount of emails consumers receive daily it is getting much harder to stand out and be noticed. Receiving a tangible print product stands out and allows consumers to feel a connection to your marketing message and your brand.

Darren Taylor, Brand Specialist

For-purpose organisations have a big advantage over for-profit businesses, but many don’t take advantage of it. It’s called brand emotion.

Emotions are the main reason people prefer brands over generics and a key reason they prefer one brand over another – that could be as a client, as a donor, as a funder or as an employee.

Emotions drive brand belongingness and loyalty, or if you like – tribalism. And the foundation of emotional expression of a brand is your core belief and purpose.

The best brands such as Apple, The Body Shop, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Unicef, have one thing in common: they have expressed an authentic core belief and purpose – the kind that creates a profound emotional connection with people – inside and outside of the organisation.

For-purpose brands have inherent emotionality in spades, but few know how to harness it. Make 2020 the year for doing so! It will pay off, I promise.


Michelle Varcoe, Recruitment Specialist

Be S.M.A.R.T about recruitment in 2020.

  • Specific: Who do you need? For simplicity, add skills, experience, qualifications and attributes under two headings Non-Negotiable and Nice to Have?
  • Measurements: How will you measure success?
  • Attainable: Are KPI’s achievable? What is the availability of candidates? Is the salary level right to attract candidates? Do we need consider candidates outside the box?
  • Relevant: Is this position a priority? Do we need a short-term contract or consultant instead?
  • Timely: Plan in advance. From commencement to appointment it takes 6-10 weeks depending on complexity, level and availability of talent. Then the appointee needs to give notice to their current employer, and perhaps delay starting for holiday plans, relocation or a wellness break.

Linda Garnett and Sharon Dann, Partnerships Specialists

“The most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people”.

As we enter a new decade, it’s time to plant the seeds for corporate partnerships success by investing in the right people and skills. That means: 

  1. Recruiting specialist corporate partnership managers and acknowledging that you’ll have to pay for the unique, strategic skills that they bring. The market rate for partnership roles may be high but the right talent will land you a transformational partnership.
  2. Providing proper partnerships training if you’re transitioning staff from other fundraising roles. Partnerships are not like any other form of fundraising, so make sure they are equipped for success.
  3. Investing time in building the skills of your leadership, board and key stakeholders to support corporate partnerships. Partnerships really do take a village to succeed.

If you want to reap the benefits of multi-year, high impact partnerships, plant the seeds now with the right people and skills for partnerships.


Elaine Hendrick, Outcomes Measurement, and Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist

The canvas of any organisation’s future (goal setting) comes across as objectives in its Vision Statement. Its aspirational nature makes measurement virtually impossible. With the increasing and continuing trend toward outcomes-focused funding and reporting, we can expect to see organisations needing to translate these aspirations into meaningful and measurable outcomes.

Once organisations can see beyond the ‘How well did we do it?’ (activities) and move to the next conversation of ‘Why do we do what we do?’ (outcomes) there will be greater clarity of their level of accountability. There will be a strong movement toward needing to identify valid and reliable performance measures that will measure the positive changes, in the quality of people’s lives and their communities, resulting from the organisation’s well-informed actions.

Having clarity of purpose, organisations will want to deliver more evidence-based program planning, design and implementation. This flow-on effect will see the ever-growing need for organisations to work with like-minded community agencies to achieve shared people and community outcomes.


Kristi Mansfield, Data and Analytics Specialists

Reducing the cost of fundraising will be an ongoing focus for Executives and Boards as pressures will continue be felt from reduced investment incomes and mounting needs in the community supported by NFPs.

In 2020, data will prove to be an essential resource for smarter and more effective fundraising.

Fundraisers will increasingly use data to predict and uncover the highest value donors, opportunities for donor retention and ways to personalise donor engagement. Predictive modelling applied to regular campaigns across all channels, not just digital channels, will give fundraisers the tools for campaigns that deliver more value with greater efficiency.

New predictive tools will make the most of data assets to give fundraisers insight on how to build stronger relationships for bequests programs. Fundraisers will either drive the NFP’s data strategy or contribute to an organisation-wide strategy to maximise all available data sources to achieve the mission.


Teisha Archer, Major Gifts Fundraising Specialist

Here’s my tips for the long run to major gifts success.

  1. Get those ‘feel good’ endorphins pumping: Nothing gets people motivated like stories of success. Time to get your stories into shape. Consider: What does the world look like if you achieve your vision? What are you doing now to demonstrate your success? Why should we trust you are the right people to do it?
  2. Build endurance to go the distance: Fundraising is hard at the best of times. By ensuring that your team, including your executive and board, have the training, networks and fundraising resources to achieve your goals you are half way there. Then get out there and ask, practice makes perfect.
  3. Know your fellow runners: Do your research into your donors. Get to know them and what makes them tick. Know their ‘go to’ moves in philanthropy. You can never do too much research before making an ask.

Stephen Mally, CRM and Fundraising Specialist

Your organisation’s constituent relationship management (CRM) solution is like a ship. Your CRM requires maintenance and it needs a captain. If you feel like your CRM may be heading for an iceberg, the new year is a fantastic time to turn that ship around.

Here are three things you might consider to set your CRM on the right course:

1 – Complete a health check of your CRM. A health check will give you an inside out analysis of the solution and set you on a course for correction.
2 – Create an action plan from the health check to prioritise the change needed.
3 – Identify a captain. Ensure your CRM is managed by a seasoned professional. Give them the authority and the responsibility to manage the change needed.

A CRM is a fundraiser’s best friend. Renew that friendship by ensuring it is a tool to help you obtain your organisation’s objectives.

The Xfactor Collective is where sector CEOs and their teams go for trusted support and advice during times of change, challenge and transformation. The Specialists in the Collective are independent, highly experienced and pre-vetted, and CEOs can also access a sector-first helpdesk to triage short and long-term resourcing needs. www.xfactorcollective.com


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