Running a Non-Profit Organization Successfully

Running a Non-Profit Organization Successfully

Written by Jim Maltry, SCORE Counselor, Cincinnati OH Chapter

Running a Non-Profit SuccessfullyThe best advice for running a non-profit successfully is to run the organization like a business. Too often those involved with a nonprofit, regardless if they are a paid employee or a volunteer, are so passionate about the mission that they neglect the business side with the result that they are not successful.  Creating a strategic plan is the best way to work towards common goals for the following reasons:

  • Developing  a strategic plan allows the organization to develop a process by which an organization envisions it future and develops the necessary procedures and  operations to achieve that future
  • Everyone knows what the organization is working toward
  • A strategic plan allows you to focus on the critical issues
  • Promotes unity of effort – avoids the “lone wolf,” one person trying to do it all
  • Creatively and collectively examines alternatives in reaching the organizations  goals.

A strategic plan covers a multi year time frame which is important if you have a multifaceted business model.  For example, if you want to provide a variety of services across a broad spectrum of ages and other demographics, it can be a real challenge since each sub group may have different and specific needs. If your financial and other resources are limited you may wish to start with one group, implement the program(s) and once you see that the program for them is working move on to the next group.  This type of planning goes into your strategic plan.

As another example, if you have only a few paid employees then you have to find board members or other volunteers to step up and assist the organization in the work.  It is important these expectations are laid out up front in your strategic plan to clearly set expectations.  As a non-profit expert, I conduct Board Development training for nonprofits. Within that training are subjects on Board responsibilities, officer responsibilities, Executive Director responsibilities and committee responsibilities. Contact the Cincinnati SCORE Chapter at scoreworks.org for free counseling if you think this type of training may be of assistance.

Developing a great strategy allows your nonprofit to:

  • Connect mission and money
  • Marshal ever-limited resources to their highest and best use over time
  • Make board and staff more productive
  • Articulate the value you provide your community
  • Attract additional funding
  • Create more social change.

To effectively create a strategic plan you must have a strategic planning session led by someone with that experience and it must be done in person. We recommend you find someone locally who can do that for you. SCORE has chapters all over the country who most likely have one or more counselors on staff who can assist you to develop a strategic plan for free. Contact a mentor in your area at score.org.

For additional information, check these websites:  (www.boardsource.org) (www.boardnetusa.org) (www.volunteermatch.org) and (www.aarp.org)

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