End-of-year reflection for 2017

The end of the year is approaching once again. Time seems to be “accelerating” recently.

I strongly believe in the value of debriefs at the end of a calendar year, and at the end of a difficult project which did not go as expected.

Formal reflection or debriefs also provide value to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. They help to accelerate learning. I’ve recently facilitated several end-of-year reviews for my clients, and the sessions have proven insightful. I encourage you to schedule time to reflect before this year ends.

Here are some extracts from my review before I took leave on 15 December 2017 for a much-needed break. It sheds some insights into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.

How to become a sustainable non-profit organization

This presentation investigates the meaning of “financial sustainability” and why non-profit organizations are feeling the pressure to become “sustainable”. It also highlights the importance of getting stakeholders to embrace these changes that are sweeping through South Africa’s non-profit sector, and the risks of not doing this properly.

The presentation shares 12 practical shifts or tactics that I’ve seen non-profit organizations use to improve their financial sustainability. The presentation ends with an outline of how you can develop your own sustainability strategy.

I developed this presentation for a “masterclass” on financial sustainability that I facilitated on 1 December 2017. This formed part of the Drivers of Change Awards, which were hosted by the Southern Africa Trust.

Ten characteristics of a social enterprise mindset

This one-page Strategy Brief identifies 10 characteristics of successful social enterprises, and demonstrates how all non-profit organizations and businesses can learn how to behave and think in this way. This brief also differentiates between the mindset and business model of a social enterprise.

What do we mean by “organizational sustainability”?

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa are desperately striving to become “sustainable”. I believe that organizations should have a broader view of “sustainability” and be precise when discussing it. This will make it much easier for these organizations to develop “sustainability strategies”.

This short article explores 10 facets of “organizational sustainability”.

Thinking about income generation and profit in a non-profit world

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises that wish to design sustainability strategies need to have clarity around the concepts of income generation and profit, and how to achieve them.

This article aims to debunk some misconceptions around income generation, equity investments, loan finance, and the profits or surpluses that these organizations may generate or receive.

It explains that income and profit emerges from how an organization transacts with its customers. This approach will require organizations to learn new skills, practice new habits and adopt a different mindset. Although embarking on this process may feel intimidating at first, the benefits of being in a stronger strategic and financial position should make it worthwhile.

Strategy Rethink: Find a renewed sense of clarity and purpose

It is time for many organizations to rethink their strategies and learn the new rules for success. Those that are able to will thrive; those that don’t may be required to close their doors.

Kate Clayton and I have developed the Strategic Rethink in August 2013 to enable organizations to re-examine their strategies and discover what they need to focus on. Kate Clayton is a brand and marketing strategist that I’ve worked with over the years.

This Strategic Rethink is a six session programme that covers Business Strategy, Brand Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Plan and Strategic Debrief.

Read more about the Strategic Rethink and how it can help your organization on its journey.

Income generation models for NPOs

This presentation discusses the concept of income generation – something that many non-profit organizations are struggling to do. It talks about resistance to making a profit and some basic rules for making money. It then presents 5 common income generation models that have been used by non-profit organizations in Cape Town. Finally, it discusses how non-profit organization can earn money from businesses and the government.

It was first presented in March 2013 to members of Women in Philanthropy.

Need for new funding model for non-profit organizations

The South African Institute of Fundraisers (SAIF) invited me to share my view on why its members were increasingly struggling. This presentation from July 2009 identifies five main reasons why the traditional fundraising model is “broken”. It then suggests six ways in which fundraisers can apply social enterprise thinking in earn income and manage their organizations’ financial risk.

Stop the begging: thoughts on the potential closure of Rape Crisis

Here is my letter that was published in the Cape Times in October 2008 in response to an article on the potential closure of Rape Crisis. The letter discusses how this is part of a larger phenomenon. It proposes how non-profit organizations need to learn to think and operate differently.

New rules for non-profit organizations

This presentation was developed in response to mass closures of well-known non-profit organizations in South Africa. More and more I was finding that the old rules for success were no longer working. The organizations that were applying conventional wisdom appeared to be struggling. In contrast, those organizations that were thriving appeared to using a new playbook.

This presentation identifies some of these new rules and encourages non-profit organizations to shift their thinking before it is too late. (These rules were the foundation for my work on “Think like a Social Enterprise”).

I presented these new rules at a variety of industry events and AGMs during 2008.

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