Starting a non-profit requires much more than a passionate team. These organizations fail almost as often as for-profit companies, and that is why it is so important for managers to know exactly what they are getting themselves into. When it comes to managing a non-profit you have to make sure that you are prepared for anything. Here are five tips you can use to ensure your non-profit remains successful for years to come.
Establish Clear Goals
Every non-profit organization must have a complete business plan. Within this comprehensive plan should be a list of goals that the organization is hoping to achieve. Without clear and tangible goals, it will be nearly impossible to garner support and attract people to your cause. Examples of clear goals would be curing a specific disease or sending a certain percentage of local high school students to college.
Treat Volunteers Like Employees
Just because an individual is not being paid does not mean they aren’t a representative of your company. While it is not a good idea to begin bossing your volunteers around without mercy, you cannot treat them as if they are nothing more than friends who are helping you out. You want to make sure that you show your volunteers as much gratitude and respect as possible, that way they will keep wanting to come back. However, sadly, when mistakes are eventually made, there may come a time when you have to fire volunteers. If something like that does come up make sure that you do it as friendly and professional as possible.
Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Those who run non-profit organizations are very passionate about their causes, and that makes many of them perfectionists. It is always good to shoot for perfection, but managers must be able to decide when enough resources have been dumped into a particular project. You definitely want to make sure that you learn as much about project management as you can, but don’t always stress about every little detail. You should always take the time to consider what type of return you are seeing on the money and energy being invested.
Consider Formal Training or Schooling
Having the proper schooling and training will help you avoid many of the most common mistakes that ruin non-profits. Degrees such as getting a Master of Public Administration online will give you a fresh perspective of the organization and help you tackle difficult problems with creative solutions. A degree in finances, communications, or management could be useful to your organization as well. Make sure that you just find something that you are interested in and go for it! No matter what new skills you develop, they will definitely help you out.
Measure Your Performance
Unless you have some way to track and analyze your program, you will never know exactly what is working and where you have room for improvements. Much like a for-profit company, these systems should keep track of daily expenses, income, debt, and overhead. As your organization grows, you can then use this information as a key marketing tool to bring in new donations.
One final tip is to remember what your non-profit is all about. It is easy to become obsessed with day-to-day trivialities and lose sight of the cause. Remembering what you are doing this for is the number one tip for making the biggest difference.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.