Multiplying Critical Assets

The five critical asset classes every nonprofit should have are staff, donors, volunteers, advocates, and referral sources. Individuals and/or organizations are the assets that make up each class. Those assets are probably more important than any of the assets on the balance sheet because they create, maintain, and feed the balance sheet assets. Nurturing the five critical assets makes sense. Multiplying them makes more sense.

The first step is to know how many members of each asset class you will need and what the profile of the average asset in the class should look like five years from now. You must look out at least five years because it takes time to gather assets and it takes time to shape the ones you have to meet your future needs.

The second step is to create a profile for what you want to recruit today so that you develop the asset you will need. For example, prospective board members who are satisfied with their achievements will be a better fit for a nonprofit without plans to grow. You want volunteers who see themselves growing and developing new strengths. If one board member wants to rest, it sends a message to all of the other assets. Growth is the only way to increase sustainability in a rapidly changing world.

The third step is to have a development plan for each asset in each class. The development goal is raising the effectiveness and efficiency of each asset so that their individual impact is multiplied. In addition, the development plan should include how to attract more assets to the class.

Developing assets implies being willing to invest in each member of the class. Your willingness to invest in an asset tells the asset how much you value them and encourages them to do more, be more engaged, and helps to increase the sustainability of your relationship with the asset. What you do for one asset also sends a message to all of your other assets that you value them and will invest in them when appropriate.

Be creative when thinking about how to invest in an asset. For instance, inviting referral sources to tour your facilities and talk about what is new is a valuable investment of your time and very little expense. At the same time, the better your referral sources understand your process the better job they will do of selecting the perfect referrals. Sending you the perfect referral is very gratifying for them. It helps them maximize their value to those they serve (your clients and others). It also helps to raise the effectiveness of your services, the success of your clients, the relevance of your mission, and your value to your community.

The asset in each class are individuals. While it simplifies the article to refer to individuals as assets, it also objectives the individuals. It is very hard to engage people if they feel like they are objects. Therefore, talk about them as individuals and never as objects.

Net Step:

Have an asset plan that spans at least five years

Be selective when adding assets and be willing to invest in each asset (new or existing)

Hold your board accountable for the increase in the value of your assets just as you do with the balance-sheet assets

Most of the preceding sounds like something the staff should do. It is. However, your board must establish the criteria for the successful acquisition and development of assets. It can only do that if it understands the value of developing and multiplying the critical assets. Without that understanding, attempts by the staff to develop assets will be side-tracked by the board’s other priorities. Goals and a plan encourage the board and staff to collaborate and work in harmony.

The place to start is with your board. How they develop their members will be a model for the rest of your nonprofit. It will demonstrate your commitment. It will increase the capacity of your board to serve, which will be necessary to support the growth of the other assets.

Take It Further:

Hold your board development committee accountable for the board’s development

Make all of the growth and multiplication goals client and mission centric

Use the change in generosity and loyalty of your assets as the success measures for your critical asset management, development, and sustainability activities

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