Tips for Operating a Successful Nonprofit

For-profit businesses and nonprofit institutions couldn’t seem to be further apart. The difference is in the name; one is motivated to make money while the other isn’t.

While nonprofit organizations operate without the expectation of financial success, they still must function in a productive manner. Nonprofits that fail to fulfill their objectives are unlikely to last long. With this in mind, for-profits and nonprofits are more similar than most people think.

Are you someone thinking about starting a nonprofit? If so, you’ve come to the right place. As previously mentioned, for-profit businesses and nonprofit institutions often overlap in terms of day-to-day operational imperatives.

Having said that, nonprofits have the advantage of being pure in terms of purpose; their mission is simple, competition is minimal,  and the path to achieving success is relatively straightforward. However, nonprofits must still operate in accordance with best practices.

Let’s take a look at seven tips for operating a successful nonprofit:

Use planning software

Every nonprofit abides by a particular philosophy that drives its goals. In order to put theory into practice, they must plan accordingly. That’s where planning software enters the picture. From worship planning for faith-based organizations to fundraiser scheduling for secular charities, success comes down to making plans that come together in a meaningful manner. With this in mind, those thinking about launching a nonprofit are encouraged to invest in planning software before getting started.

Raise funds

Though they aren’t in it to make money, nonprofits still need money to operate. Most nonprofits achieve this through fundraising and charitable donations. With this in mind, the most important function of your nonprofit, apart from putting money to good use, is to get out there and raise the money in the first place. While small donations from individuals are important, the key will be to secure large sums from wealthy donors and corporate sponsors. These significant contributions will be the lifeblood of your nonprofit.

Save money

Given the amount of good work that remains to be done in this world, no amount of money is ever really enough for the average nonprofit. That means every dollar counts. It’s essential to do everything possible to scrimp and save without compromising the integrity of your nonprofit organization.

Hire the right people

The nitty-gritty of your nonprofit’s operation depends on its mission and purpose. However, we’re willing to bet there are numerous roles that require specialized expertise. That means finding talented men and women to work for you. The problem is that nonprofits rarely, if ever, pay better than the for-profit companies these individuals could work for instead. With this in mind, it’s essential to hold on to talented personnel for as long as possible, as well as devise ways to recruit talent despite the inability to offer competitive pay. 

Sell products and services

You read that right. There’s nothing inherently unlawful about nonprofits selling assets, so long as it’s in pursuit of funds used to keep the organization running. With this in mind, consider bake sales and other ways to generate revenue through the selling of goods and services. Other examples include consultation services, apparel products, and the reselling of equipment you no longer need.

Monitor spending

The unfortunate reality is that nonprofit status is often abused by those on the inside in order to benefit personally. Common examples include private jet travel, clothing, and personal technology. With this in mind, it’s essential to monitor spending in order to detect any illicit use of funds.

Stick to the mission

When in doubt, stick to the mission. As long as you stay true to your mission statement, you will continue to be aided by a guiding light that leads you to do what you set out to accomplish.

While for-profits and nonprofits are inherently different, they both require top-notch leadership and operational efficiency in order to achieve success. With this in mind, those thinking about starting their own nonprofit will need to take the necessary steps to ensure their operation functions in a fluid and productive manner. By using the tips offered above, you stand the best chance of success in a nonprofit setting.

Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Ohio. She enjoys writing about business, finance, health, and travel.

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