Do you feel fully on top of the business-side of running your organisation? You might be delivering outstanding social impact, but are you confident that your business practices are fit for purpose?
We work with hundreds of not for profit organisations and we see first hand the challenges of juggling the operational realities of delivering community services with the management and planning needed to run a purpose driven business. We know that many organisations do not have the time – and sometimes don’t have the in-house skills – to invest in adequately planning ahead, managing corporate functions, and continuous improvement.
As part of our commitment to reinvest some of our own funds into supporting the sector to build its business capability, we are offering a series of Community Business Grants in 2019/20. Grants will be offered on a staged basis through 2019/20 and will take the form of pro bono consulting projects in areas such as understanding your market opportunities, and financial management.
The first round will open to applications soon. Sign up for news and updates on our Community Business Grant program here, including announcements as rounds open, and access to the grant guidelines.
You’re better off running a quick survey often, instead of a long survey once a year. If you’re willing to pay people to respond to your survey then you can make it longer.
Ask the right person
The person who decides which services to purchase with what organisation may not be the service user. For example if your organisation provides support to children, the child may be able to tell you what would make their experience more enjoyable. But they will not be able to help you define the key drivers that makes a parent allow you to support their child.
Focus on one thing at a time
Before you start to write questions make sure you understand why you are doing this survey. Focus on what it is you need to know. Make sure you write the answer down so you keep referring to it. It’s easy to get side tracked as different ideas pop into your head.
Know what you are going to do with the answer
Sense check the questions you’ve written, by asking yourself if the answers will help you improve your organisation/service/customer experience.
If you want to find out more about how you can connect with your existing customers and / or potential customers, you can book a free consult.
Instagram launched donation stickers in America earlier this year. Whilst this new way of getting people to donate hasn’t been released in Australia yet, it’s the perfect time to start using Instagram in preparation for the launch, especially if you’re looking to engage with 18 – 34 year olds.
In the middle of July Instagram turned off their like count in Australia. So you can no longer see the number of people that like a post (unless it’s your own).
Mia Garlick, the Director of Public Policy for Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand told the ABC “We know that people come to Instagram to express themselves and to be creative and follow their passions. And we want to make sure it’s not a competition.” This is an advantage for new pages, as a low level of engagement as you build your Instagram presence won’t be visible to users. Although people can still see how many followers you have on your account, people can no longer see that you only have two or three likes on a post, so they can make their own mind up if they like the post and act accordingly, rather than wondering why it’s only got a few likes and then not wanting to stand out.
Engage with young adults
64% of Instagram users are aged between 18 – 34 . Whilst this age group supports crowdfunding activities, it’s less likely to give to charities. Instagram donation stickers will allow organisations to receive donations via the Instagram app on people’s mobile phones and tablets. This is important as 80%  of crowdfunding donations are made via mobile devices, so this is a platform where people are happy to provide donations.
Whilst the primary purpose of your Instagram page is to connect with customers, there is also the potential to increase your volunteer base. Although 43.7% of adult Australian’s volunteer, this number drops to only 37.7% of 18-34 year olds. Instagram provides an opportunity for you to connect with this demographic and encourage volunteering.
Start your Instagram page now
If you don’t already use Instagram the sooner you start the better. Don’t wait until the donation sticker feature is released in Australia to get started. Building an audience on Instagram will take time. By starting now you’ll get time to learn and develop a style that your audience engages with, whilst still reflecting your mission. You’ll have time to build a relationship with your subscribers and build trust, so when donation stickers become live, they will want to support you and advocate on your behalf with their followers, by putting stickers on their Instagram stories to raise money for you.
Things to remember
Before you start an Instagram account you need a strategy. Review your marketing strategy to understand which target segment you are appealing to and what your position to this segment is. Build your Instagram content strategy around this and decide what story you’re going to use Instagram to tell, and what solution you are going to offer people. You can’t just copy your posts from Facebook or LinkedIn over to Instagram. They are different environments and people expect different things.
Instagram is image focused, so start to collect images. The best way is by using your smart phone (so if employees are banned from using their phones at work, you may need to revise your organisation’s policy to get the best results, or consider other options). The best photos will be ones taken in the moment, not staged, so make sure people involved with your organisation know what sort of photos you want to take. You may have sensitivities around taking photos of the people you support, in which case you can decide to take pictures from their point of view, to show what they are seeing.
Maximise your chances of being found. Your ‘name’ and ‘bio’ are the only two searchable fields in Instagram, so make them count. Don’t repeat your organisation name in your bio as space is limited, instead use search insights from your website and weave the most searched for terms into a sentence.
Free help to improve your images is available
There are various apps available that can help you improve your images, even if you’re not skilled in Photoshop. Apps like ‘Snapseed’ allow you to tweak your image at the press of a button, so search for image editor in your app store and find one that works for you.
If you want to brand your images or always have a certain colour as a border that ties back into your brand, you can find apps like ‘Canva’ by searching for graphic design apps that need no creative skill to use.
Live video and Instagram Stories (images or videos that disappear after 24 hours) are very popular with the younger demographic and ‘Unfold’ is the go-to mobile app to allow you to add text and design features to your story. Like the other apps, this needs no design skill and if you’re like me, you’ll soon start using these apps for your personal account too. If you’d rather create stories from your desktop, ‘Stories Creator‘ allows you to convert images (not videos) into stories from your web browser.
If you want to provide people an overview of what an hour or day with you looks like, you can use an app like ‘Life Lapse’ which allows you to do time lapse photography for free. The result is a video made up of individual photographs.
Track your results
A simple spreadsheet may help you track results like the number of followers and the engagement (likes, shares and comments) of individual posts. Once you get over 1,000 followers tools like this one can be used to generate reports showing your audience demography, follower growth and important audience insights to allow you to generate relevant content.
As a benchmark according to Phlanx (a social media marketing platform), the average engagement rate on Instagram based on the number of followers is:
1k to 5k = 5.6%
5k to 20k = 2.43%
20k to 100k = 2.15%
100k to 1m = 2.05%
>1m = 1.97%
New to Instagram and completely confused?
What is it? It’s a social media platform, much like Facebook or LinkedIn, but heavily based around photos and videos. You can like and comment on posts in much the same way as on other platforms. It’s mostly used by 18-34 year olds, so is a good platform to use if they are your target age group for buying your service, donating or volunteering.
Bio: your bio page gives background information about you and your number of posts, followers and the number of Instagram users you are following.
Stories: are Instagram pictures or videos that disappear after 24 hours.
IGTV: in addition to posting to your page and stories, videos can be posted to IGTV. These advantage of posting to IGTV is that the videos can be longer than on your page or stories, which are restricted to 60 seconds and 15 seconds respectively.
If you need any help creating a marketing strategy to understand who your stakeholders are, what your positioning is and creating measurable objectives; or creating an engagement plan to communicate with them, you can book a free consult.
Over the past months the news has been filled with public figures who have lost their jobs due to posts or comments they’ve made on the internet.Whilst some were recent posts others were in the distant past, but it still came back to haunt them. An organisation is just like a person, over the years comments, news stories and customer reviews leave a story on the internet. So what can an organisation do to protect or improve their organisation’s reputation?
“A business that looks orderly says to your customer that your people know what they’re doing.”― Michael E. Gerb
Systems and process, the ‘how’ you do the things you do in your organisation, may seem boring and of not much importance, but they matter more than think.
Inefficient ways of conducting your work can include using outdated tools or technology, double handling information and a lack of transparency in the work being done. These are some of the most common ways systems and processes are outdated and inefficient. Using fax, paper forms and technology that hasn’t been updated in years are specific examples of these.
There are five ways this can negatively affect your organisation.
1. Frustrate staff
Something small may not be annoying in itself, but if it has to be repeated multiple times a day, every day, it can quickly become frustrating and demoralising.
2. Poor customer experience
When your internal systems are weak, your customers and users of your services are often impacted by a poor customer experience. Conversely modern streamlined processes often result in great customer experiences.Customers using good mobile applications to book services often comment on positive experiences such as not having to re-enter personal details (as they are saved in the app) and being able to make their booking at any time of the day.
Manual outdated processes have a much higher chance of mistakes. For example paper forms can allow endless mistakes to occur – often undetected – whereas an electronic form with built in validations can ensure data accuracy and prevent a number of mistakes. Mistakes and errors can administrative annoyances or they can be much much worse.For example a paper form will almost always ask the customer to fill out their name and personal details such as date of birth, every time they complete the form. Electronic forms can of course save these details and provide a greater customer experience. Furthermore safeguards can be put in place to prevent errors and increase accuracy. One organisation that was using paper-based forms reported that a number of customers had changes in their date of birth from form to form, highlighting just how susceptible to error the continued use of paper forms can be.
The longer something takes and the more mistakes that need to be addressed, the more it will cost your organisation. This is especially true of staff, which are often one of the biggest overhead costs for organisations. The cost is both financial and opportunity cost, as other work cannot be completed if staff are too busy correcting errors. Non-value tasks hinder an organisation’s ability to maximise the impact they are making, as staff are pulled away from value add activities to complete non-value, but perhaps urgent, tasks.
5. Can’t grow
If your organisation grows with inefficient processes and systems, it runs the risks of having more frustrated staff, more customers with a poor experience and more mistakes that need your attention. As you grow, the impact that your organisation is making is likely to be greater, however the problems and inefficiencies currently being faced will also be greater which may in turn may cause staff to leave, leave customers unsatisfied and result in the objectives of your organisation not being met.
You may be asking, how do you know if you have internal systems and processes that require your attention? Two key sources of feedback are your staff and your customers. Pain points and/or complaints will often reveal a poor system or process. Furthermore, intuitively you will know that certain systems and processes need updating. Chances are you’ve had good experiences as a customer with other organisations or you’re using a system that the whole world knows is outdated and have a thought to yourself, there has to be a better way.
CBB has a number of consultants with experience in processes mapping and the streamlining of systems and processes. For an obligation free consultation, please contact us on 1300 763 505.
“When you build a bridge, you insist it can carry 30,000 pounds, but you only drive 10,000 pound trucks across it” – Warren Buffett
All organisations need cash to live, breathe and operate on a daily basis. Cash is very much like oxygen, not really a big deal until you don’t have any and then it’s a really big deal, really quickly. Furthermore it doesn’t matter how healthy you are, if you’re without air for a short period, you’re in trouble.
Organisations are exactly the same. An organisation can be extremely prosperous for many years but become unstuck if they are left without the required cash to meet their commitments for even a short period of time. How long will employees be willing to work without pay? How long will suppliers continue to provide their services on credit?
It’s a scary thought, but cash flow risk can largely be mitigated by building a strong reserve. All shortfalls in cash must financed. They can be financed through financiers such as banks, your suppliers offering credit, or your own cash reserves/savings.
Cash reserves are the safest, easiest and most reliable safe guard against cash flow issues.
To state the obvious, cash is an asset that your organisation owns, an asset that you control and, most importantly, an asset that doesn’t need approval from a third party (such as a bank) to access.
So how much cash should your organisation put aside? This is a difficult question and will largely depend on management’s risk tolerance and the perceived risks that your organisation may face in the future. For example, risks such as your cash-flow cycle, income model (ie block funding in advance or individualised payments in arrears) and competitor landscape should all be considered when evaluating risk. Understanding the kind of financial or cash flow risks you are facing will help you to identify the level of reserve needed to protect your organisation.
An organisation with management that are not overly risk averse and not overly concerned about any perceived future risk, may not believe that they need large cash reserves. Conversely an organisation that is worried about the future risk they may face, may choose to build large cash reserves.
As a general rule at least three months of all expenses should held in cash in reserve. Ideally six months will be held, and 12 months plus is, of course, a much more conservative approach. When evaluating how much cash to hold in reserve it is also important to consider the timing associated with risks. For example if your organisation has a risk of losing funding but will be given a minimum of three months’ notice, then this should be factored in.
The rationale here is, if no income at all came in – not a single dollar – how long would you need to operate to get yourself back on track or at minimum payout all your obligations to staff and third parties? However if the likelihood of you losing all your income at once is low, you should reflect this when setting your reserves level.
As outlined above, a number of factors need to be considered and analysed. When considering these factors, an independent qualified adviser will be able to help you navigate your options relative to your risk exposure, and ensure that you calculate the appropriate amount of cash reserves for your organisation.
To find out how CBB can assist, please get in touch with Dimitri:
As a Brit living and working in Australia, I’ve been reflecting on the mess that is Brexit, and, in the wake of Theresa May’s resignation as British Prime Minister, what it tells us about leadership, and the impossible job. Leadership – given its embeddedness in individual and organisational psychology – is a complex topic. There have been millions of words written about it, some based on sophisticated studies, and some of which are probably nonsense. What follows are my personal reflections and observations based on a 25 year career of working with leaders, and being in leadership positions myself. Central to the meaning of ‘leadership’ is that it requires followers. I’m not a fan of the term ‘followers’ because it implies subservience – definitely not something I want from the people I work with. However, leadership does require a team. You can’t lead in a vacuum, or without vision. These are the two key features that have been lacking in the last three years of the British Prime Ministership, making leadership a near impossible job for Mrs May.
Leadership rests on shared vision
Rule #1 of leadership: develop a vision – or at least some common goals and objectives – that your team can commit to. With significant divisions within the UK Conservative party regarding the shape Brexit should take, Mrs May has been unable to build consensus within her own team. The same weekend that Mrs May resigned, I read articles about the Australian Federal election, and the anti-vaxxer movement. Both cited research showing that, when presented with evidence that contradicts their opinions, people hold on to their existing opinion more strongly. Our human tendency to look for evidence that validates – rather than challenges – our viewpoints, coupled with social media’s propensity to present more of what we like, means most of us live in an echo-chamber with inadequate perspective on the broader world. More dangerously, we heavily criticise politicians for changing their standing on an issue, making them reluctant to actually listen to evidence and shift their position. One British political commentator, Peter Oborne (who was a Brexiteer) has publically changed his stance on Brexit and urged others to do the same. Although his story has been widely shared, it’s had little impact. Instead, positions have become more entrenched and more polarised, and the behaviours more vicious. Little space is left for negotiation or compromise, and there’s scant hope of creating a shared vision across the ‘team’ responsible for delivering Brexit.
Shared vision depends on diversity and a healthy culture
We hope that, in our professional lives, we operate with a more open mindset, with the capacity to take on board new evidence, and alternative perspectives. This is why diversity in teams – of experience, perspectives and thinking styles – is so important. Challenging and testing assumptions is critical to busting groupthink and building a robust, shared vision that everyone can get behind. But to build a consensus, you need a safe environment for constructive challenge and considered debate. It’s pretty difficult to have honest face to face discussions if everyone’s watching their back and waiting for the next manoeuvre. Which brings us to point two…
Leadership requires team support
Leaders are only as good as their teams. Team support is vital to getting the work done, in thinking through challenges, in creating new opportunities, in innovating improvements. You can’t do it alone, and you certainly can’t do it if your team are fighting and undermining you (and each other) all the time. This has clearly been another major challenge for the UK Prime Minister. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people in your team that want your job (and who have the competence or potential to do it). They can stretch you as a leader and build a pipeline for succession. What’s not good is having people that are openly hostile and trying to unseat you. Exit Mrs Theresa May, British PM.
Build a stronger team with clear behavioural expectations.
While we would hope for better behaviours in the workplace, people’s professionalism can’t always be assumed. A behaviours framework that sets explicit and objective expectations of workplace behaviour – towards each other, clients and stakeholders – is useful here. Formalising a behaviours framework gives you criteria against which you can recruit and select new employees, and manage those whose behaviours undermine the integrity and values of your organisation.
Support for Leadership
Whilst we hope that the febrile environment of national politics is not played out in not for profits across Australia, organisation cultures – and organisation leaders – do need to be nurtured and cared for to keep them healthy. You can read more about how to avoid a toxic workplace here.
If you have concerns about the culture in your organisation, or you’re a leader that needs a bit of external support, get in touch with Jane:
With more organisations moving their core business to consumer directed funding models such as NDIS and My Aged Care, change is in the air – for providers and their clients and beneficiaries. For the first time, clients hold the purse-strings – and with them, the chance to exercise true choice and control over the services they receive. For the first time, individuals – not the government – are the customer.
For a customer-driven market to thrive, there must be sufficient choice available from a range of providers, offering services that fulfil genuine community needs in a way that’s sustainable,ethical, and generates positive social impact.
We’ve all heard of the expression – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a valid expression with merit. If you earn all your income from just one source and that goes away, then it’s highly likely that your organisation will go away too. So does that mean you should diversify your income? Not necessarily.
Before we jump into whether or not you should diversify the income of your organisation, we should cover what diversification of income is.
Income can be diversified in two ways
1 Different providers of the income
These are the actual people and organisations who hand over their money to your organisation. The two extremes here would be one customer vs thousands of customers. It worth noting that we are talking about people and organisations that provide income to your organisation and as such this includes grants and donations. Another way to look at this may be one annual grant vs 20 annual grants.
People aren’t perfect, mistakes happen and that can affect your bottom line directly (in the cost of fixing the mistake) or indirectly, by affecting your organisation’s reputation. So it’s important to have a system in place to eliminate errors.
“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”
Setting up a quality assurance and compliance system need not be an arduous task. When operational, the system allows your organisation to operate more efficiently, creating better results and allows you to focus on delivering better outcomes for your community, rather than re-doing work.