Most nonprofits are started with the best intentions, but only a relative few will beat the odds to become truly high-impact. Here are six tactics to keep in mind as you work to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Create a Strong Foundation of Leadership
Organizations that rely too much on a single individual are doomed to regress at some point. That’s why it’s important for the leader of a nonprofit to help others in the organization reach their potential as leaders through delegation of important responsibilities. Others in the leadership team will feel valued and stick around longer, which also helps with long-term organizational success.
Part of running any successful nonprofit is bringing in volunteers and donors to help the mission, but it takes a little more effort to go from successful to high-impact. High-impact nonprofits don’t just involve donors and volunteers—they empower them to become passionate advocates and encourage them to recruit others to the cause.
Collaborate With Peers
In all likelihood, there are a number of other nonprofit organizations in your area with similar missions. You may naturally feel a sense of competition with them. Don’t fall into the trap. If your mission is important to you, it’s easier to make real change by working together with these organizations to create a larger movement around your issue.
Practice Operational Flexibility
Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t. High-impact nonprofits try new things—new ways of making money, new types of events, and more—constantly, but they also honestly evaluate whether those things work. When they don’t, they cut their losses. When they do work, successful nonprofits incorporate them into their plans moving forward.
Be Practical With Stakeholders
Many nonprofits have relationships with businesses or politicians. Maybe you’re trying to encourage restaurants to adopt sustainable practices or politicians to support a law. The most high-impact nonprofits understand that businesses and elected officials have skin in the game, too. Telling a restaurant they should institute a recycling program because it’s good for the environment may not work, but explaining how it could help their bottom line probably will.
Address the Cause, Not Just the Symptom
There are two ways to address a problem—you can attack the symptom, or you can attack the cause. Working to alleviate the symptom feels more tangible than addressing the cause, but it has less of an impact. Would you rather help individual teachers buy needed school supplies for their classroom each year or advocate for an appropriate level of education funding to eliminate the problem? It’s fine to do both, but the most high-impact nonprofits think about the bigger picture.
Running a high-impact nonprofit takes top-tier strategy and execution. These six tactics will help you set your expectations and develop a blueprint to ensure your nonprofit is one of the best.