Creating Programs with Impact

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

It’s no secret. Donors want to see impact for their charitable dollars.

In fact, donors rank an organization’s effectiveness as one of their top giving motivators.

Before launching a new program—or reinvesting in an old one—put it to a test by answering the questions below:

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?And why is the problem important and urgent?
  • What is the solution? What strategies will you employ to address the problem?
  • How is the program connected to your organization’s mission? Beware of mission creep.
  • Who is the target audience? Policymakers, the media, the general public or some other constituency? Determine communication methods needed to reach them.
  • How will you know if you are making progress? This can be challenging if you are addressing a long-term problem where progress won’t be immediately obvious. Develop proxy measurements such as media hits, the number of meetings with lawmakers, or anecdotes that demonstrate impact.
  •  What are your organization’s capabilities for carrying out this work? Is the program a natural fit based on your organizational strengths or is it something that is better suited to another nonprofit?
  •  What have and haven’t you accomplished so far? Can you build upon past research or programs? Or are you starting from scratch with a brand new idea?
  •  How much money do you need? Develop a comprehensive budget for your project that includes direct costs (printing, mailing, events, travel, website design, etc.) and indirect costs (salaries, overhead, etc.).
  •  Who might logically support it? Which current donors would be interested in your work? Does your program open up new sources of funding for the organization?

With thoughtful evaluation, you will develop programs that you can “sell” internally to senior management, and externally to key supporters. More importantly, you will advance the mission of your nonprofit organization.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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