What Makes a Nonprofit Successful?


If someone tells you that running a nonprofit is just like running any other business, then head the other way. They simply don’t know what they’re talking about. While, yes, it does share many of the same principles, there are some highly unique factors that make managing and leading a nonprofit very different. And if you can master these elements, you’ll increase your odds of finding success.

5 Factors for Nonprofit Success

Study a sample of the best nonprofits across a variety of niches and industries and you’ll find that many of them are adept at doing the small things right. Here are a few factors you can implement to find success:

  1. Find and Invest in the Right People

One of the best things you can do is find and invest in the right people. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link – so each and every person matters. (Not just the people at the very top.)

Finding good people in the first half of the equation. Hire people who are self-motivated, highly disciplined, and willing to learn. (Notice that “experienced” isn’t anywhere on that list.) While it’s certainly nice if you have someone with experience, hiring based on a resume is a recipe for disaster. Experience without self-motivation, discipline, and a proclivity for learning will lead to poor hires more often than not.

The second part of the equation is to invest in the people you hire. These individuals must be trained, molded, and cultivated. It’ll require upfront resources, but by developing talent, you dramatically increase your nonprofit’s long-term potential.

  1. Foster Deep Connections With Supporters

Your nonprofit is nothing without its supporters. So make sure you’re also investing in your supporters. This includes people who support you financially, as well as those who believe in your cause and are willing to go to bat for you.

Do your best to get to know as many of your supporters on a personal basis. This could look like scheduling virtual “coffee” meetings, having dinner with supporters, or entertaining at events and parties. Use these instances to ask questions and listen, rather than pushing your own agenda. Because the more you know about your supporters, the more you’ll be able to connect with them down the road.

  1. Become a Better Storyteller

Speaking of connecting, one of the keys to running a successful nonprofit is to master the art of storytelling. Look for ways to clarify and convey your story so that it resonates with your audience.

There are plenty of ways to tell your nonprofit’s story. This includes social media, email, print newsletters, video, blogging, etc. For best results, use a combination of these mediums. Just make sure you stay consistent. If your story sounds one way on your blog and another in your newsletter, you’ll create confusion and lose credibility.

  1. Avoid Founder’s Syndrome

Are you familiar with the term Founder’s Syndrome? It describes what happens when the founder of a non-profit gets too wrapped up in the daily operations of running the organization that she actually hinders the growth of her team and stymies the company in the process.

Avoid Founder’s Syndrome by delegating early and often. Look for ways to work on your nonprofit, rather than in it. As you release control, your team will acquire new skills and operations will become much faster and more efficient.

  1. Remain Agile

Too much rigidness and formality can sink your nonprofit and prevent it from being successful. The more you prioritize agileness, the easier it is to grow.

An agile nonprofit emphasizes results over process. It prefers self-managed teams and independent work, rather than micromanagement. There’s little formal hierarchy and everyone plays together on the same team. Transparency is a focal point, and nothing is hidden.

At the end of the day, agile nonprofits find it easier to pivot and maneuver when opportunities arise.

Adding it All Up

There’s never any guarantee of success – especially in the nonprofit world – but you can certainly enhance your chances by implementing the aforementioned tips and tactics. Begin using them today and document your results. You may not notice any significant changes over the course of a few days, but as the weeks turn into months, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

FadLy Handowo
My name is FadLy Handowo. I love experiencing new things and I am always looking for a new activity to try.

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