Saturday, August 31, 2013

The 5 Cs of Nonprofit Success


Stating the obvious here but running a SUCCESSFUL nonprofit is HARD WORK!

Here is a new rubric to help you (and me!) do it better!

What else would you add?  Please respond in the comments!

1. A Compelling Cause

In order to run a successful nonprofit you need a compelling cause.  But let's face it, some causes like some products are simply more compelling than others.  Just because YOU are passionate about a certain issue, ideology, or identity doesn't mean people will pay for it and/or work with you to realize your vision. The art and science of fundraising and managing involves ALIGNING your work with your DONORS' and EMPLOYEE's interests.

If you want your donors and volunteers to jump out of bed in the morning to help you, you've got to have a compelling cause.

Here are the questions to answer.

What are our most compelling programs and services and why?

What does our organization do to change the world better, faster, and cheaper than anyone else?

2. Great Colleagues

There is ample research to show that people who have close friends at the office are happier and more productive at work.

This just makes sense!

Wouldn't you rather spend 10 hours a day with people you like, respect, and admire?

Here is the question to answer.

What can I do as a hiring manager, leader, and employee to build a collegial atmosphere in my organization?

3. A Kick-Ass Culture

There is also tons written about the role that culture plays in making or breaking an organization and how leaders must PROACTIVELY and CONTINUOUSLY set about building the one they want.

A great culture is like a great brand. It is something you tend to every day by modeling your organization's values in the way you think, walk, and talk.

For my money, a successful organization requires a culture focused on ACHIEVEMENT and INNOVATION.

Here's why.  1) People want (and star performers need) to hit the right targets. They need to know where we are we going.  And they have to understand their unique role in making progress.  This is especially true in fundraising and sales.  2)  People want (and star performers need) the freedom and responsibility to think about ways to improve the business.  Encourage your team members to "stick to the knitting" and execute well.  But also give them license to look around the corner to see what is coming next.

Here are the questions to answer.

How can we reduce inefficiencies?

How can we better delight our donors?

What else (a mobile website, social marketing, etc.) can we put in motion today to get us ready for the future?

If you need guidance on culture creation and communication, check out The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love.  This is the benchmark. 

4. Fair Comp

If you read the research on what motivates employees, you will see that while compensation is not necessarily the most important driver of employee satisfaction, it is part of the package.

Pay people fairly so that they are not distracted by feeling or being underpaid. 

Nuff said! 

5. Cash

This is the biggie.  Sorry to state the obvious but you simply must have cash to run a successful nonprofit or for profit. Salaries, i.e., human bodies are not enough.  I'm dismayed at how hard it is for most nonprofits to answer this question - "What's the budget?" - when embarking on a new campaign or initiative.  (We are driving our vendors crazy!)

Cash is still king.

You need cash to tell donors about all the great things they are doing through your organization. You need cash to upgrade your software.  You need cash to enter new markets or find a new funding model.  You need cash to find new donors who may be interested in investing with you.  You need cash to train, reward, and celebrate your employees!

That said, cash is not a silver bullet. Plenty of nonprofits and for profits have squandered angel and other investments.

Here are the questions to answer. 

What are we doing to create a reserve or cushion to power our nonprofit?

Once we get more cash, how will we invest it STRATEGICALLY to ensure the financial health of our organization far into the future?

Cheers!

Jocelyn

2 comments:

Mark said...

That's a succinct list Jocelyn. If I had to add a sixth 'C', it would be: Collaborative bent. Is the nonprofit leveraging its limited resources? Is it actively seeking out organizations that share its vision and could provide a "missing ingredient"?

Jocelyn Harmon said...

Thanks, Mark! I like it!

Collaboration is key for all small business's with limited resources. Who can we partner with to help us showcase our mission with new audiences? Who can we "outsource" our programming to?

Nice call!

J