As some of you may know, I launched my career in nonprofit. I quickly learned that nonprofits play a crucial role in just about every industry.
While each nonprofit thrives on its own accord and each offers something unique to the constituents it serves, there are common traits that define a good nonprofit.
Perhaps more than anything else, good leadership molds a successful nonprofit. Excellence starts at the top, trickling down to those who support leadership.
But what else?
I won’t go through the entire list but a few traits are worth pointing out.
- Focus on a few things – Think quality not quantity. It’s tempting to provide everything to everyone, but it’s much more effective to specialize in a few products and services. Nonprofits that stick to a mission and develop measurable goals perform the best.
- Develop diverse funding sources – I’ve written before about methods to increase non-dues revenue since members shouldn’t provide the only funding stream. In addition, funding should also come from grants, special events and local foundations.
- Reach the right audiences – I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Communication is key, especially tailored communications. It’s best to identify three key audiences and craft messages specific to those communications needs. Key audiences include staff, board members and volunteers (internal messaging works well for this audience), those who might use products and services (think potential clients here, too) and potential donors.
- Say thank you and ask for help – Nonprofits often ask for dollars, but a good nonprofit lists specific needs and builds financial transparency by providing examples of responsible stewardship. And when receiving funds, nonprofits that thank donors – based on their amount of giving – will earn respect.
- Commitment to excellence – Good nonprofits keep apprised of industry trends and engage in professional development. They follow and seek out best practices; evaluate their programs and services; measure and publish outcomes; and communicate their efforts toward excellence.
“There are many other traits that are easy for organizations to overlook or to let fall by the wayside in favor of achieving day-to-day objectives,” TVD Associates said. “Also, for most nonprofits, the prospect of reflecting on, evaluating and altering the organization’s guiding tenets is daunting at best.”
What are your thoughts? What defines a good nonprofit?