A Note from Vanessa Wakeman

Dear Friend,

I’ve been thinking about the evolution of our agency. Over the years we’ve continued to identify areas where we can add value to our clients, while also challenging ourselves to do increasingly great work. There have also been those occasions that we were so head down doing the work, that we completely missed what was in front of us, and had to play catch up.

Through this process, we’ve not only enhanced our services, but in many ways, it has kept us relevant. Organizations come to us for our ideas, our expertise, and our brand promise.

For many nonprofits, staying relevant is a constant struggle. Often organizations don’t have the space or the resources to think about what’s next. Sometimes, the pressure from funders to produce outcomes specific to the requirements of a grant hinders any exploration of anything outside of that box. More often than not, under these conditions, an organization finds themselves with their noses pressed against the glass, trying to figure out how to become relevant again.

There are some simple steps that can help you self-check your organization and discover where you are on the relevance scale, in order to most effectively position yourself:

Host Quarterly “What If” Meetings – you and your team are the experts. Schedule periodic meetings to discuss what you are noticing in your focus area, and how you can adapt to any changes that will strengthen your position in the sector.

Use Your Data – Every nonprofit collects data, but not all use it. Spend time analyzing your data to see if there are any signs of a shift in the needs of your stakeholders. This could be something as simple as changing the way you communicate with your individual donors, based on the responses you receive from different types of collateral you share with them.

Give Everyone a Starring Role In Your Organization’s Story – Every supporter of your organization wants you to be successful. Keep everyone engaged and excited about your work by not only sharing what’s happening today, but give them a vision for tomorrow and how they can help to get you there.

Look For Blind Spots – Sometimes we are so close to something that we can’t see the areas where we need to improve. Ask donors for their insights about your organization, talk to staff at all levels, study other sectors to see if they provide any cues that would be helpful to you to improve specific areas.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your organization’s relevancy? Email me at [email protected] with your thoughts.


Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.35.51 PM

Vanessa Wakeman
Founder and CEO