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7 Tips to Improve the Performance of Your Not-for-profit

Bob Letterman asked:

When it comes to innovation and management practices, most of the business press and news center on for-profit companies. Yet, non-profits constitute a huge segment of our economy. According to the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics, just the public charity portion alone accounts for over $1 trillion in aggregate revenue. There are approximately one million public not-for-profits and private foundations registered with the IRS.

Notwithstanding these impressive statistics, many nonprofits struggle to effectively manage. This article shares seven insights from the field nonprofit management.

Use technology prudently

Recent developments in Internet and telephone technology are making it increasingly easy for not for profits to save on travel costs and increase coordination. Desktop sharing apps are becoming easier to use and allow nonprofit managers to instantly create virtual meetings across geographically spread out teams. Additionally free conference calling offerings such as Rondee.com are helping not for profits to save on their telephone bills and develop better group dynamics as well as facilitate coordination with external not for profits.

Keep focused

The most effective not for profits are ones that stay tightly focused on their mission and do not get enmeshed in peripheral goals. Most not for profits operate under serious resource limitations. Tackling three goals with 100% effort will generally yield superior results compared to tackling six goals at 50% effort.

Use data based decision-making practices

One of the key trends in the last several years affecting not for profits has been the increasing reliance on evidence driven decision-making. Nonprofit managers can apply the same practices to ascertain what works and what does not work. Increasingly, the hurdle for quality decision-making is rising and reliance on conjecture is being systematically replaced by empirical evidence to justify decisions.

Expand your network

The most successful nonprofit practitioners create networks of supporters who share their philosophy and goals. While the word networking often gets a bad rap, the simple fact is these networks can provide more than merely financial support. Crucially, these networks also provide the emotional support which is so critical to sustaining energy amongst leaders as well as volunteers.

Learn how to lobby

Many not for profits believe that lobbying is the province of for-profit enterprises. While that may be the reality in some cases, many successful not for profits have developed a real advantage through mastering the art of lobbying. Whether to secure needed reforms in public policy or the support of public figures, lobbying can be an effective means for not for profits to accelerate traction.

Keep your fundraising focused

Most of the not for profits that have grown dramatically in the past 20 years or so have done so by focusing their development efforts on a single type of funding source. The strategy usually employed requires developing efforts and messaging designed for the needs of their primary funding channel. Not only is this technique typically more effective than the shotgun method, it enables deeper relationships to be formed between the funding source and the nonprofit.

Multiply through matching

Multiply your fund raising dollars through matching donations. Most folks know that some employers will match gifts to certain not for profits. Less well understood is the multiplier effect of securing promises from donors to match the donations of smaller contributors.

The good news is that these suggestions are not expensive. Whether its using free teleconference services or learning how to lobby, not for profits can improve their performance through these seven tips.

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