The managers and leaders of nonprofit organizations constantly face new challenges related to growth, social issues, government funding, and the need to serve more clients with less resources. The use of modern business practices are being put into action every day by these organizations to manage resources, raise funds, 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 to provide money, 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.
With current trends such as an aging population, increased competition for donations, growing demand for services, and the need to increasingly rely on technology, the nonprofit world is moving away from a "no"-profit school of thought.
If a nonprofit organization is to be a mission-based business, its mission needs to be attainable. The statement is a resource, a management tool, staff motivator, volunteer recruiter, and a fundraiser-and it should be utilized at all times.
To make sure this mission is met, you need the right people-a business-based board and an experienced staff put to work as "social entrepreneurs" utilizing technology, marketing, and finances to create a vision for the entire organization. A good relationship between the board and staff is key to fulfilling the mission. A board provides a critical link to the community between those benefiting from the organization's mission and to key sources of funding. They also need to provide expertise and objectivity along with serving as a sounding board for ideas and plans. Boards are often an under-utilized resource. A strong staff is also a resource. Managers who include them in board committee work and value what they have to offer will be on their way to fulfilling their mission.
How does someone manage a mission-based business? 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 the community. Finally, communication encouraging the open expression of ideas and opinions must be in place.
Everything that takes place in a nonprofit organization should include marketing. Marketing is how the community learns about your mission, how you get new "customers," and how you acquire new "investors." Nonprofit doesn't have to mean no-profit. Organizations can increase effectiveness and turn their mission into one of power and impact by building basic business principles into their philosophy. By setting and requiring increasingly higher standards of practice, a nonprofit can surround itself with the right staff, volunteers, and supporters who will help them meet the needs of others. IBI