A successful nonprofit may not make its shareholders rich, but it has the power to change lives and build communities. As the leader of a nonprofit, talented entrepreneurs have a responsibility to bring in the income necessary to accomplish its mission while always keeping a focus on the organization's purpose.
Establish and Maintain a Clear Mission
A mission statement may be important for any business, but for a nonprofit it serves as a guiding principle. Your nonprofit's mission statement should be powerful and concise, demonstrating your passion for your cause. Once you've created a mission statement that reflects your organization's overall vision, find ways to consistently remind your staff, supporters, and community members by including it in all printed and online marketing.
Hire the Best Administrative Staff
Your administrative team keeps your organization functioning, ensuring bills are paid and coordinating fundraising activity. Finding trustworthy, talented employees on a limited budget can be difficult, but it's important not to skimp, especially with your accounting staff. Search for someone who is familiar with the unique aspects of nonprofit accounting and who can ensure your organization passes the scrutiny it will undergo, especially during routine audits.
Remember the Community
As a nonprofit, support from your local community is essential. Whether you're sponsoring events or selling tickets to your fundraising dinner, being on good terms with your neighbors can make a big difference. Support other organizations in the community and play an active role in your local Chamber of Commerce to show that you're proud to be making a difference in the community.
When someone donates to a nonprofit, seeing the results of that donation feels gratifying. Through your newsletter and social media sites, share photos and videos that demonstrate how donations are being used. An organization that helps out with disasters, for instance, can upload photos of workers helping rebuild homes.
Nonprofits occasionally experience questions about how money is being handled. To build community confidence in your organization's procedures, it's important to cultivate a culture of transparency within your organization. Independent audits are required of many nonprofits but even if one isn't, a regular independent audit can catch problems early, before they turn into major issues. Some organizations choose to make public the income and expenses they manage each month to build trust with supporters.
Volunteers are the foundation of all non-profits, donating their time to help achieve their mission. It is essential to show gratitude for your volunteers (including the Board) with benefits and acknowledgement as you would an employee. San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay is an example of this, giving volunteers gift shop discounts and recognizing their important work by hosting volunteer appreciation events.
Learn to Say "No"
Nonprofits often operate with insufficient resources and funds to tackle the many requests it receives. You'll likely be presented with opportunities and great ideas that sound great, but participation means stretching your already-taxed resources a little too far. Learn to politely decline these options when they're presented to avoid overstressing staff, volunteers, and your annual operating budget.
Have a Passion
When a nonprofit's leaders and employees fully believe in the organization, it shows. A prerequisite for leading an organization is that you are passionate about the work and this passion should show through in everything you do. This may mean that sometimes you have to remind yourself of the reason for all of your hard work. If possible, take time occasionally to get out in the field and interact with the people your organization benefits. This time will usually remind you of the real reason behind all the hard work you do.
Nonprofit leaders have the ability to make a big difference in the local community. By regularly reminding yourself and your team of your mission and the people who are benefiting from your work, you'll be not only be more successful, your workplace morale will improve. A nonprofit has some elements that are similar to a corporate environment, but realizing the difference is key to success as a nonprofit leader.