What Makes A Successful Non-Profit Organisation

Non-profit Organisations (NPO) hold a special place in society with the good intentions they bring to the table and their desire to make the world a better place. Yet before NPOs can do “good”, they have to begin by doing “well” (Berman, H., 2020). The key ingredients of a successful NPO may not differ greatly from that of a successful business, that is, except for the bottom line. While a business’s end goal is its profits, an NPO’s bottom line is its mission. In that, we will find that it is important to have a healthy cash flow, hire the right talents, be flexible, have a good reputation and be mission focused in order to be successful in meeting this bottom line.

1. Healthy Cash Flows
The measure of the health of cash flows does not lie in absolute value, but in balance – an NPO will only have the ability to give as much as it has received. In order to create a real lasting impact on its beneficiaries, a sustainable model of operations is necessary. This may seem counterintuitive that money is a focus of a Non-Profit, however in this case, the bottom line is still the mission. Only when an organization has sufficient funds to engage in activities that benefit its beneficiaries, will it be able to achieve its mission. To achieve financial sustainability, ensure that your organization has a plethora of avenues for cash inflows. Many NPOs rely on events to raise funds, but this avenue is sporadic. Diversify your options through year round donation avenues or through sales of goods and services. In all this, be donor centric. Allow them to understand the impact of every dollar they are giving, this transparency builds a motivating trust to give more. At the same time, be empathetic of donors, and appreciate them for their deeds.

2. The right talent
Not only are brands the symbol of an organization, the people of the organization are also walking exemplifications of the organization. These employees steer and drive and the company towards its bottom line. Furthermore, turnovers are costly, and especially so for NPOs where every additional dollar can be another unit of positive impact on a benefactor’s life. A good person’s job fit can predict good performance and low turnover rate. It also predicts the attitude one brings to work. Where the team sport of working in an NPO is concerned, attitude is a key factor in ensuring harmonious relationships that can increase belongingness to the organization, which can motivate the team to achieve key organizational goals.

3. Be flexible
The modern environment we live in places great emphasis on progress. This fuel for innovation and hence the creation of new ways of living and doing places us in an uncertain and ever-changing circumstance. An NPO should not be afraid of progress in its external environment because its existence, mission and works are also progress. At the same time, an NPO should adapt to changes in its surrounding due to progress. NPOs should constantly review its work and impact with respect to the environment around them and their beneficiaries and ascertain if alterations should be made, in order to continue moving towards its mission in a resource-efficient manner.

4. A good brand and reputation
Reputation is the sum of perceptions of all stakeholders of society about your brand. Even those not directly engaged in your organization can have a say in your reputation, and this is especially so with the proliferation of social media and the web. Having a digital presence is a good way of getting your good reputation heard and seen. The use of paid and shared media are essential tools here. A known and good reputation is in itself a medium of raising awareness for your mission, and at the same time, is what makes donors, volunteers and talented employees choose your organization over others or none at all. Killing two birds with one stone, building and maintaining one’s reputation is cardinal in an organisation’s longevity and impact.

5. Be mission-focused
A successful NPO needs to know where it is going and how to get there. This clarity sets precedence for its possible impact, its reputation, and its operations. Being mission-focus and having checkpoints and goals to get there gives rise to visibility of an employee’s purpose which can be a highly motivating element for employees. This can help you hire and retain the right players for your team. At the same time, sticking to the mission provides consistency, which can help to build trust and a good reputation for the organization when perceptions of the company reinforce one another. Understanding that the mission is the bottom line allows the board and the employees to be focused on what is important and build a set of sustainable operations that reduces employee’s need to put out flames that divert their attention away from what is important – the mission.

NPOs have the potential to change the world we live in for the better. To do so, they must first set goals and standards that can ensure their survival and impact. Building a successful NPO is not an easy task, but at the same time not impossible. Organisations like Rolex and Amnesty International have shown the impact that an NPO can have, and your organization could be next.

The Foundation of Rotary Clubs Singapore provides a wide range of courses suitable for non-profit organisations, assisting your organization in taking another step towards being a successful NPO. More information on each course can be found at frcs.sg


References

Berman, H. (2002). Doing “Good” vs. Doing “Well”: The Role of Nonprofits in Society. Inquiry, 39(1), 5-11. Retrieved February 3, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29772994
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