For various reasons in life, we may find ourselves in charge of a non-profit organization. This author has seen people inherit them due to death or illness of a family member or close friend. Also, maybe it’s time to start one up, because it’s a necessary part of something you are trying to accomplish. There are many reasons to start up a non-profit; the important thing here is to make sure it’s done right.
We are here to help you with a few important tips on how to get things going the right way.
The Most Important Thing: Focus!
The world is full of wishy-washy non-profits which, if they were people, would be that dazed individual who obviously doesn’t have the slightest idea what he or she really wants out of this life. Nobody wants to be that person, and you definitely don’t want to be in charge of an organization like that! If you are, this author would humbly suggest that the two best options are either force things to get very clear and very defined immediately or just to walk away.
How clear is clear? It has been said that if you can’t state your organization’s mission in eight words or less, you need to work more on focusing it.
Chasing The (sometimes elusive) Donors:
The process of getting donors for nonprofits can be pretty tricky, but there are ways to streamline and improve the process. The link included above is extremely useful, but just to put things in a nutshell, build a referral network from current donors, figure out your niche i.e. the profile of your ideal donor and use that as a guide, and don’t be afraid of email marketing and social media marketing; they are your friends in this game. Hold regular events, and above all, if someone shows genuine interest, meet them in person.
Winston Churchill once said: “Perfection is the enemy of progress,” and boy, was he ever bang on with that one!
Depending on what your background is, this may be something you already get on an intuitive level, or something you have to struggle with. In general, people coming from the creative worlds, or from other non-profits indeed, will get this easier than people with more corporate backgrounds, especially from very formal button-down industries like the banking industry etc.
But whatever your background may be, if you are running a non-profit, it’s important to understand that, as long as your goals are being accomplished and progress is being made, it’s best to not get caught up in the electrons. This goes double for organizations that for whatever reason rely heavily on volunteers to get things accomplished. Don’t even think of it has having lower standards; it’s better to think of it more as a different way of doing things.
Learn How To Say No:
This is perhaps the greatest error of people who are thrust into leadership roles in a non-profit and aren’t really sure how to manage. It’s incredibly easy, almost addictive-level easy, to make a bunch of promises to a bunch of people and eventually find out that you have painted yourself into a tight corner, and you will never be able to keep your word on everything you have pledged. You are much better promising less and if anything, delivering more than you have promised.
In conjunction with that, don’t be afraid to let long-term goals be long-term. Rush leads to ruin, as many the head of a non-profit has found out the hard way. And be realistic about your organization’s ability to scale, or if it even needs to scale that much. There is nothing wrong with the organization finding its place in the cosmos and staying there; not every organization needs to be as big as UNICEF!
Ultimately what really matters is accomplishing the goal the organization has set out to accomplish; all else is noise and distraction.