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Navigating the Noise: A Nonprofit’s Guide to Boost Your Signal in a Busy Year

The start of a new year can be so noisy. Yes, there are the literal noisemakers, the fireworks, the “Auld Lang Syne” of it all – but, especially in a presidential election year like the one we’ve just begun, it’s like the volume on all the noise got turned to 11. 

And when you’re deeply engaged in the everyday details of working to make the world a better place, how can you be confident that your nonprofit’s signal is breaking through that noise? The natural reset of a new number on the calendar is a great time to stop and ask yourself, your colleagues, your Board, and your supporters to reflect on your signal strength and think about how you might be able to give it a boost.  

Let’s start at the core:
  • Are your mission, vision, and values clear, concrete, and active? Are they serving as compass and guide for the decisions you’re making at both micro and macro levels? 
  • Do you know who you’re talking to when you’re talking to your different stakeholder communities? Is your messaging clear, specific, and tailored to those you serve? And are you meeting these folks – especially your donors – where they are, which is, benchmarking shows, increasingly online?  
  • Does your team have the support and resources they need to be innovative and proactive stewards of your mission? Or are your front-line staff existing in a constant, reactive, survival mode?  
  • When did you last examine your policies and practices to make sure they are practical for how the work of your organization gets done in the real world rather than an ideal world?  

If the 2020s have taught us anything so far, it’s that we must cultivate the kind of agility that makes us resilient enough to navigate the unexpected challenges that will inevitably come our way. There is comfort in the familiar – but so much of “how we’ve always done it” is no longer effective. How can we cultivate comfort within that inevitable change – how can we use our curiosity about our work and the world to become more adaptable, better able to take in the new information the world is giving us at light-speed so that we can separate what’s relevant and important – the signal – from what’s just noise? 

When you pause and really tune in your signal – your mission, vision, and values – it can serve as the north star that guides every decision you make, from how you allocate your resources to how you raise more resources from your communities to how you share the vital importance of your work with the world. 

It can be hard to carve out time in the everyday rush of the nonprofit sector to pause and consider these bigger questions – but the time you spend setting or re-setting your course allows you to go faster and further once your organizational wheels hit the road. And sometimes, when you’re so deeply in the weeds, it takes calling in a partner who believes in the work as strongly as you do and can help you ask and answer questions like these to find that breathing room. That’s what we do and love doing every day. If you’re having trouble finding your signal in the first moments of this very noisy new year, remember that you can always give us a call. We’re here to help. 


Since 1976, Campbell & Company has partnered with nonprofits across the country to advance their missions. In every service we provide—including campaign planning, analytics, communications, executive search, annual giving counsel, and more—Campbell & Company’s fundraising consulting philosophy centers on your community’s needs, interests, and values to help you create and maintain meaningful philanthropic relationships. Learn more at www.campbellcompany.com or call 877-957-0000 to start a conversation today. 

About the AuthorS

Julia McGuire and Kate Roosevelt lead Campbell & Company as Co-Presidents. As they consider the year ahead to 2024, Kate is looking forward to celebrating the opening of the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion on the Seattle waterfront this summer – the culmination of years of planning, persistence, generosity, and vision for our one ocean and our ocean planet. Julia will be visiting colleges and universities with her daughter this year, and looks forward to helping her find “her place” for the next phase in her life journey.  

 

 

 

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