The path of a non-profit organization is a different path, but in the end, our goals remain the same: to improve and strengthen the organization. It seems simple enough, right? It should be so simple, but often much more complicated.
We have worked with several non-profit organizations for many years and found that many people have very strong ideas on how to manage a non-profit organization, but in fact only a few have training or experience in nonprofit management.
The reality is that a non-profit organization is a business that needs to be managed as a business! To be successful, you just need to customize your mindset with the following recommendations:
- Strategic planning. Each organization has its own vision, and time must be devoted to exchanging opinions, expanding and strengthening this vision among employees and board members. It is important that each board of directors establish a clear set of goals that they would like to achieve during their reign, to help them stay focused and keep up with the times. The group should also meet periodically to assess their progress. Otherwise, goals can be easily forgotten, and organizations may deviate from the path.
- Every dollar matters. In your business, it’s assumed that you are always looking for the best value for money. We all want the best quality we can get at a reasonable price, which usually means searching for competitive offers and research. Non-profit organizations make the wrong decisions because they do not spend time researching or believe that Company A will give them a better price, so they no longer look for more. Like any other business, non-profit organizations must exercise due diligence. This is part of the board’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure that non-profit organizations are properly accounted for.
- Save for a rainy day. In one of the organizations we worked with, there was a board member who swore that “a nonprofit tracking organization should never hold an excess of funds.” Some people completely disagree! The availability of cash reserves during periods of limited funding and limited donors clearly demonstrates that these vulnerable organizations need to save some financial resources in order to maintain their mission in difficult financial times or other unforeseen circumstances.
- Vegas trap. In the pursuit of earnings, countless organizations spend money they don’t have, hoping to earn money in the back. But just like in Las Vegas, when you work with a non-profit organization, you have to minimize the risks that it takes on financially. Undoubtedly, a large fundraising looks like a great opportunity, but if you cannot guarantee that it will fill the room with generous participants, this can be a serious loss for the organization.
- Document your work. The board spends countless hours managing the organization, like many other people. Exact records should be kept not only at board meetings, but also at committee meetings, so that future generations can understand and learn from their efforts to avoid the same problems (i.e. A document confirming why the company X was dismissed as a supplier after 15 years, explaining the results of Silent Auction at last year’s gala concert, noting that it went well and that the committee wished it to be better). Documentation provides the legacy of legal members for the future success of future members.
- Build the best table. Think about what kind of professional can strengthen your organization. It is important to have a financial guru, but you definitely do not need six of them. Set it up: each organization is unique, but key professionals include a lawyer, an accountant, a marketing specialist, a planner, a writer, a web designer, an expert on the Internet, etc. Depending on your organization, it is also important to have a balance of men and women’s representation, as well as ethical diversity. Prepare a simple guide on what is expected of your board members. Providing board members with the opportunity to understand their expectations before joining is becoming much more focused and fruitful.
- Keep it simple. Non-profit organizations depend on the commitment and work of their volunteers. If an organization has problems defining itself, its mission, or goals, volunteers can quickly move away from the group. Volunteers should feel that they have changed their participation, so it is better to clearly define expectations and identify opportunities in which a non-profit organization could benefit from this extra help.
- Marketing. You know that this is a good reason, but without a road map for disseminating information, others may never know about the incredible work that your organization does. Determine what makes your group special and who you want to cover with your message, and then find the target audience. Proper segmentation and orientation of your marketing efforts can increase your list of potential donors, the base of volunteers and the list of participants for future events.
A non-profit organization is a company that is very similar to any other, which, as a rule, operates within the framework of a corporate structure, defined by a single goal within the framework of strict parameters in order to achieve a specific goal. Sometimes there is even a motive to “win” (namely, a fundraiser)! By applying basic business principles and a solid approach, a non-profit organization can guarantee its success and longevity.