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A Publication of WTVP

With constant changes in the economy creating greater needs and an increased demand for better services, nonprofit organizations, along with their managers and leaders, constantly face many challenges stemming from an increase in existing social problems and government cutbacks. In the past 10 years, the number of registered 501C-3 organizations has increased by 40 percent, with more than 850,000 organizations competing for dollars nationwide.

To meet these challenges, the use of modern business practices must be put into action to better meet their mission, manage their staff and finances, raise the funds needed, and market their goals and objectives to the community-both the public and the private sectors.

A nonprofit organization is a mission-based business. Fundraising efforts aren't merely in place to provide money for the organization, but rather donors are "purchasing" services for others, and this type of purchase makes it even more important that nonprofit organizations provide measurable outcomes to their constituents.

Using creative approaches that will ensure the best use of available funding and collaboration is fast becoming a strategy used in both for-profit and nonprofit industries. The practice ensures the successful provision of services to clients while allowing clients to receive services in an easier and timelier fashion. This type of consolidation, in turn, saves money for other needs.

Often, nonprofit organizations and human service agencies lack a process or the readiness to solicit broad input and share ideas with each other. Changes in staffing can also lead to a loss of information. Add to that the constraints of time, and both lead to a breakdown in the communications process. It becomes evident that the first step in collaboration is to create a channel for the open sharing of ideas and information.

Immediate avenues of collaboration include sharing of resources such as professional staff, consolidating services and programs, creating joint curriculums, sharing transportation, utilizing central facilities, and creating a co-op structure for the purchasing of general supplies.

A nonprofit manager needs to utilize four main principles: balance, innovation, leadership, and communication. Balance is used when several needs have to be met with often-limited available resources. Innovation comes from the manager who takes risks on behalf of those being served by the organization. Leadership is in play at all times and leads to motivation of the staff, the board, and, ultimately, the community. And finally, communication must be open at all times, and it must be effective.

Nonprofit doesn't have to mean no profit. Organizations can increase effectiveness and turn their mission into one of power and impact by incorporating basic business principles and collaboration efforts into their philosophy and by requiring increasingly higher standards of practice. IBI

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