Paint a picture of where your non profit has been so you know where you’re going
by Joseph John
I’m a very visual person. I need to “see stuff” to grasp concepts. I need to get my arms around concepts by looking at pictures, graphs, paradigms, whatever. Yes, I’m one of those person-types that still prints out rough drafts so I can “red line” and make my necessary edits. Well, I believe a non profit organization, in planning for the future, needs to create a picture of what they’ve done in the past so they have a better view of the future.
A historical timeline is the perfect vehicle for an organizational review as well as a superb visual to use with future board members (and potential donors) who would like to see what the organization has accomplished over “x” number of years.
Think about it: Can you pull out one sheet that will list your non profit organization’s accomplishments and benchmarks since the year 2000? Almost twelve years of organizational history can be graphically presented to create a picture for where the organization has been.
A Historical Timeline creates a better grasp for seeing trends over the almost twelve years since the millennium to determine what the next three, five, or ten years might look like. It’s a great planning tool. Oh, by the way, I’ve already tested this concept with a couple of associations that I deal with and they collectively said “OMG…that would be fantastic for all of us to review.”
And what should be on that very graphic image of your non profit organization’s history? It’s quite simple, and can be set in landscape mode either in Word, Excel, Pages — whatever. Here are just some of the items that you may want to add for your snapshot of the organization’s history:
- Number of members
- Number of donors
- Number of board members appointed and departed
- Number of full time/part time employees
- Organizational budget
- Branding/logo changes
- Vision/Mission/Value update(s)
- Bylaw revisions or total rewrites
…and the list continues — your choice.
If you know a good graphic artist, you can get very creative with the layout. Add as little or as much as you may need to tell your story, but don’t create visual clutter. It’s the important “stuff” that you need to put on your timeline to easily review trends and to tell your story.
It may be corny, but it the old saying is very apropos regarding your non profit organizational timeline: A picture is worth a thousand words.