Successful Traits of a Nonprofit

It’s a new year, and it’s time to take a look at how and why and when and what, and what can be when it comes to your nonprofit organization. It can be a time for reflection and reimagining the possibilities that can be accomplished in the mission that your team is so passionate about.

So, what are the successful traits of a nonprofit, and what can you do to either move your nonprofit towards those traits or be validated in the knowledge that you and your team is doing a good job in your mission to do good? 

  1. A True Understanding of The Mission: It’s key that you, your team, and all of the people involved in your journey understand exactly it is what you are trying to accomplish. Getting clear on exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish is how you keep going forward towards that ultimate ambition. 
  2. A Well-Written Mission Statement: This goes along with the first point because it is all about getting perfectly clear on the mission of your organization. Your mission statement should be around 15 words, so being concise is critical. Through your mission statement, your organization is trying to say two things: what exactly your nonprofit wants to accomplish through change, and how they plan to do it.  One of my personal favorites is Save the Children’s mission statement: “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.”
  3. Being Wholly Transparent: It’s really important to be transparent as a nonprofit. When you are an organization that is transparent with your donors, potential donors, your audience is general, you may be more successful as ann origination overall.   The 2019 Donor Trust Report shows that transparent nonprofits actually received more donations, and were actually more successful in other ways, like financial solvency, and governance. As we all learned as children, honesty (and transparency) really is the best policy. 
  4. Proper Delegation and Distribution of Work: This is applicable in every organization, but especially when it comes to a nonprofit where there may be limited resources, and many team members may wear many hats. Being able to establish who should be doing what works, and which team members possess which skills can really contribute to the success of your organization. This also means to ensure that no one team member is doing more than they can actually handle, and also that they are working on projects that are in line with what they can contribute to the team. Choose skilled writers to write donor letters, choose effective communicators to deal directly with clients, choose emphatically-inclined people to deal with anyone that needs those traits. This is all incredibly important. 
  5. Consistently Thinking Outside of The Box: Being innovative, and coming up with new solutions to problems, can be key to continuing on and moving through seemingly difficult situations. It may be that there seems to be a set of unwritten rules about almost everything, including the best way to set up your nonprofit, form your corporate board, and fund your projects. But just because something has been done before doesn’t mean that it will work for your individual organization, and there could be other options that you are ignoring because of those unwritten rules. For example, Ed Wiertell, who was the chair of the Chicago Youth Center saw that so many of the advice around maintaining a successful nonprofit is contradictory. So, he formed a committee to figure out how the nonprofit could maximize savings, which they did by making cuts in ways that did not impact the actual heart of the programs. After this, The CYC looked for a strategic partner/ally to strengthen the infrastructure of their organization. They found this partner in the Family Focus. The Chicago Youth Center focuses on children from age 3+ and the Family Focus is focused on children up until the age of 3. Both organizations provide similar services, and by working together they were able to provide more services to more people and stay financially solvent.

These five things identify exactly what can help make a nonprofit more successful, and what can help move their missions forward. There is so much good work that so many organizations are doing, and our team at Grantwatch is so happy to provide services that help nonprofits accomplish some of that incredible work.