Non-Profit improvement requires actions

Non-Profit improvement needs more business support.

Are you fearful for your Non-Profit (Not-For-Profit) situation?

Are you struggling to find the purpose of your Non-Profit organisation? Having difficulty finding Non-Profit improvement? Are your improvement programs being put on the ‘back-burner”? Do you have that feeling of emptiness? Ever wonder if you’ll ever reach the kind of success you know is possible and would like to achieve? If this is the case, you are probably lonely and working in isolation. By working with businesses and other organisations in the community, social improvement actions will make a positive difference.

Moving forward means losing the fear, the uncertainty or whatever it may be, associated with a poor performing Non-Profit organisation.  There are never any gilt-edged guarantees, which is one thing that helps keep you on your toes. Dealing with the unpredictable issues associated with government funding can be a real headache. But, don’t avoid the hard questions that can make the organisation more effective and efficient. Keep your finger on the pulse of your Non-Profit and stay one step ahead, it’s a better place to be.

Perhaps fear or lack of funding is paralysing your thinking. Slowing the progress by stopping you really identifying your Non-Profit improvement actions?  Maybe you’ve had enough of all the red-tape, the micro-management of funders and the delaying of your plans?

It can also be challenging to know where next to invest your time resources. When you’re making the transition from a small to a medium-sized organisation, or you have to address increasing demand from your community.

So you’ve established your organisation and successfully grown past the fast-paced, frenetic start-up phase. How will you continue to grow, rather than simply maintaining the status quo?

Becoming a better leader

You don’t become a better leader by thinking about becoming a better leader. Become a better leader by changing behaviours and becoming action orientated. On the whole, I think we all lead with thinking and observation but is is not always enough.

  • Have a clear business model, business plan and budget to follow
  • Lead your meetings in a new way.
  • Practice entrepreneurial attributes.
  • Lead your team by active examples.
  • Point out an inconsistency, when you prefer to ignore it.
  • Ask a dumb question. “This might be a dumb question, but …”. Dumb can be better than smart.
  • Practice transparency when you prefer to keep things to yourself.
  • Gently say what you see when you prefer to turn away.
  • You can’t think your way into better leadership.
  • Learn to take risks.

Many Non-Profits don’t have enough staff to fill the holes that might arise from action and experimentation going wrong. However, security of action is an elusive goal, to have it good leaders risk it.

Non-Profit improvement actions can take place with the right attitudes

The key will be to be action orientated, agile and be able to a adjust to the prevailing circumstances. Smaller Non-Profit organisations have a big advantage in that they can more easily adapt and take advantage of new ideas and opportunities. In today’s global economy things are never static. Things that work for you today can be totally useless tomorrow. What works in one organisation can be totally wrong in another. Whatever is perfect for one person might have a negative impact on another.

Revisit and update your Business Model

How does it work and how does it generate a surplus while delivering the outcomes you want and need? Perhaps parts of the Business Model are not working properly and other parts could do with some fine-tuning.

Revisit your Business Plan and Budget

Two key tools to guide the organisation. If poorly done, or inaccurate, then you can’t expect everything to work efficiently and effectively. Everyone needs to know what they have to do. Business plans in the head, or on a postage stamp are generally ineffective in achieving outcomes.

Develop a more mobile environment

No one should feel trapped in a dull, cramped office with a daily commute. You can create more flexibility in your working environment and inspire everyone to improve productivity.

Create a nice working environment for employees and volunteers

While you might attract candidates with a strong personal belief in the vision of the organisation. They won’t last long in a shabby, or hostile working environment.

Overtake the funding issues

Limited funds not only means lower salaries but it impacts on the whole organisation’s ability to achieve its objectives. If you are struggling with funding issues it is a sure sign you need some help.

Motivate your stakeholders

Do you want to have an enterprise that delivers on the aspirations of all the stakeholders? Then ensure all the parts of the organisation are working well, all day every day and are focused on the primary objectives. Keep in mind the fruit tree. If you don’t prune it you don’t get good fruit.

Choose your vision statement carefully

It may seem pointless to someone who has been ‘running fine’ without one. But a vision statement can really help you channel your core objectives and share your vision with the whole team.

Develop awesome marketing strategies

Many feel the frustration of having a vision but can’t quite to get there. Why is this so and how can you achieve some of your major goals this year? People must know what your organisation stands for and how to find you. Look at improving the content with all your touch points. Get your message out with content marketing.

Give your team more ownership

Offer opportunities for staff to advance and progress. This helps retain staff who want to develop themselves while freeing you up to focus on other things. Teach people on the job and allow them to grow.

Identify your strengths

Understand your own strengths. Surround yourself with people who have different strengths and let them teach you. You don’t have to know and do everything. Do what you do well, outsource the rest.

Be transparent with your stakeholders

It’s important to be transparent particularly with funders and supporters. Many fear an adverse reaction. Presenting your information clearly will foster trusting relationships.

Sort out any structural problems

Growing from a startup to small to medium-size can be a big change. This becomes apparent when adding a more vertical management structure. Don’t kill innovation by creating unnecessary chains of command.

Work with the board

Disagreements between management and boards are common in Non-Profit organisations. This is particularly so where you and others have been used to making decisions for a long time. Boards make changes which are not always understood.

Time management

Effective time management is a most highly valued skill. While there is no one right way, it’s important to find a system that works for you and your organisation and stick to it. Being ‘Investor Ready’ will help,

The wisdom of the crowd can be a powerful thing

Look to your community. The businesses and other community organisations. Expertise to solve your problems and frustrations can be found in their practical experience, so use it. Working together achieves better outcomes than working in isolation. Consider new crowdfunding options.

Improve the image of the organisation

If you or your stakeholders are not proud to be associated with the organisation, you have a real problem. Conduct an audit of all you marketing activities and put ‘customer service’ first. If your clients are not having good experiences your organisation will soon fail. Good images build advocates and evangelists and attract the best volunteers.

Share resources with other organisations and businesses

By sharing resources you can cut your capital costs as well as operating expenses. Do some joint tendering and also make some savings. Become more financially savvy about Not-For-Profit organisations.

Non-Profit improvements can involve outsourcing of non-core activities

Outsourcing everything that is not your core business is a good strategy. You can also look at outsourcing things you don’t like doing or are not good at. This will save money and improving efficiency.

Harness the best people you can

Perceptions can influence your beliefs when competing with larger organisations for the best talent. When competing, think about how people perceive you and your organisation. Understand the ‘why’ people will want to work for your organisation. The best people will not tolerate bad management from the Board of Directors down.

Ask your staff

Take people away from the office and ask them how they think the organisation should be progressing. This approach can be much more successful than doing everything on your own and gives staff genuine involvement.

Take some time out to think through your Non-Profit improvement program

Taking a short break to relax, think, reflect and plan can be revolutionary. This can change your entire outlook. Explore weekend courses and workshops aimed at managers, and consider mentoring schemes.

Develop a strong culture

Do you have more than one office or branch, or staff who work remotely? This can cause you to struggle with maintaining a strong culture. You might try developing online training and communications systems, there have been vast improvements in flexible work environments.

Attend business events, after all, you are a business

Attend business events outside of your industry, as often as you can pick up useful practical tips. You never know who you might meet and how they could help you with your issues.

Love it or leave it

If you’re not passionate about your Non-Profit improvements or the industry it’s in, you’re making it hard for yourself and everyone else. When you’re not excited about where the organisation is heading, why should others be? Perhaps you have been there too long and have become stale. If you are only involved for the prestige, people will know so get out.

How will you know when you’re Non-Profit improvement program is working?

It can be hard to see whether a Non-Profit improvement program is realising its potential and living up to its purpose and vision. Despite having good financial statements, your organisation could be slipping badly in important areas. You don’t want to be one of those people, or supporters, who brags about how much money they have donated. Rather brag about the important outcomes the organisation is striving for and achieving.

You may be raising a lot of money through grants and donations, but how many people are you actually helping to overcome their problems and frustrations and meet their wants and needs.

How much of the money raised is going towards the Non-Profit improvement and the real objectives of the organisation? Keeping track of the organisation’s work may require revisiting the Business Model, Business Plan and Budgets. If the organisation is not meeting the desired outcomes, you may have to change the objectives, strategies and actions. This alone can dramatically alter the outcomes.

While it’s important for Non-Profit improvement programs to be aggressive and optimistic, you must always be realistic about the limitations imposed on a Non-Profit organisation. Always be open to new possibilities and opportunities that are constantly emerging for all manner of organisations.

Quotable quotes

“If you have an idea to make a Non-Profit improvement, or right a wrong, use entrepreneurial attributes to bring about the improvement”. Peter Sergeant

“An hour spent test-driving new leadership behaviours is more useful than an hour spent thinking about being an authentic leader”. Dan Rockwell

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn”. Harriet Beecher Stowe

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