Stating a social enterprise gave me a lot of insight into the world of not-for-profits. I’ve learned a lot about the sector, as well as the charity sector, and how both of those tend to limit themselves when it comes to growth and success. There are many issues with how charities market themselves, and how they communicate with the outside world. The near-universal failure of such businesses to have a clear message, and the failure to operate in a business-like way, is something that is causing a lot of problems for charities and non-profits and limiting their growth.

We Need to Manage Our Talent

Talent development is something that many charities struggle with. The issue of ‘founder syndrome’ stifles charities and makes it impossible for them to grow. Employees need to have the freedom to manage their own organization, and the freedom to take responsibility for their projects. Staff need the opportunity to direct their own future – because a strong team will help to make the charity grow.

Businesses Need Boards

Your board should offer experience and should allow the charity to explore its own ideas, build better governance, and make new connections. A strong board will mentor and challenge the leaders according to Amiqus and will drive the organization forward in the best possible way while helping to ensure the best success for the organization.

Be Bold and Take Risks

Because charities are often bound to their funders and donors, they are often reluctant to take risks. This limits the ability of the charity to get new revenue streams, and it also limits the opportunities for the charity to attract new beneficiaries. Risks should only be taken when they will benefit the organization on balance – it is important that risks are assessed, and that there is sufficient payoff to make it worthwhile. Risks should be mitigated, and there should be back-up plans for catastrophic failures. When those things are in place, however, risk taking can work out. Again, a trusted team will help here because it will ensure that the payoff will be big enough to make it worthwhile.

Invest in the Future

While it’s nice to get things for free and do things cheaply, there are some things that should be paid for. Good facilities, skilled people efficient marketing, and smart fund-raising will all benefit you in the long term. It’s vital that you build some investment into the development plan – get a network of staff and spend time and energy on building them up. If you make a commitment to them and invest in their future, then they will invest back into the company. Yes, some volunteers do move on quickly – but many will stay loyal and even when they move to bigger better things they will keep giving some of their time back.

Write that Back-Up Plan

Counting on funding coming in is never a good idea. Money runs out, grant bids get declined. Have a cash flow forecast and a good back up plan so that you know that you will always be able to pay your bills. Keep some clarity as to what is going on, and have a few months (more, if you are allowed to by your funders) of reserves on hand at all times.

The better you plan, and the more of a business-like approach you take, the more efficiently your charity will run and the easier it will be for you to help the people that you want to work with.

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