Running a non-profit is challenging. In order to do the most good, NGOs today have to function like any other venture, building a team, having a strategy and working with targets. It is almost like running a business albeit a lot more rewarding. Therefore, every social entrepreneur or a nonprofit founder requires the essential business skills to operate effectively, and efficiently.
Doing social good has moved away from the naive idea of raising funds through events or charity dinners once a year. It is now a 24×7 job where volunteers and workers, work constantly to engage the community, spread awareness and effect change. Like other businesses, NGOs must invest in key areas to ensure smooth functionality and a greater impact.
So, how do you make sure your limited funds are invested in the correct areas?
Here’s a list that can help you out:
1) Having the Correct Business Plan is the Key to Growth
Your passion for the cause should not take over the practicalities involved in running a successful NGO. It is imperative to have a business plan that highlights your long-term as well as short-terms goals. Set achievable and realistic goals. The business plan should also cover how you plan to achieve these goals with the resources you already have. Every few months you can look back to your business plan and see how far you’ve come, the progress you’ve made and the areas you need to dedicate more time to.
2) Legal and Financial Areas Cannot Be Avoided
The most critical activity of an NPO is to raise funds and the law has several rules governing how an NGO manages funds. You will need a legal aid to understand the legal framework of running a charity. Financial managers are responsible to set budgets, conduct audits as well as go over the accounting procedures and policies of a nonprofit to ensure all rules are being adhered to and the funds are well-utilized and managed.
3) The Right Team Will Take You Places
NGOs usually don’t have enough funds to recruit a huge team so one has to recruit smartly. Make sure your team shares the love for your cause equally and genuinely care about making a change. Though recruiting volunteers is a good way to get things done, having a permanent team is crucial to not let operations stop at any time.The perfect team of personnel to run your nonprofit should include leaders/board members, admin staff, communications executives, legal and financial managers, and full time/part time employees or volunteers.
4) Don’t Talk a Lot, But Always Keep in Touch
In the Digital age, communication has taken up a new space altogether. How and how often you communicate to your community ensures a large part of your success as an organisation.
Especially with NPOs looking to raise funds, communications aimed at persuading donors can be very tricky at times. Each cause will have a different target audience. Once you find the right one for you, you must analyse their interests, their history with philanthropy, donating patterns, and plan your activities accordingly. Get journalists involved, interact through social media, do on-ground events, send out emailers and updates to donors and always keep in touch with your community. Remember, content is king.
5) Your Community Won’t Fail You
NGOs thrive due to their global/local supporters and volunteers. When all fails, the community is often the one that comes to your instant rescue. The community is built of people/groups that already care about your cause and have already contributed to furthering it. As a nonprofit, you need to ensure that you respect your supporters and keep them engaged. You can do this by sending a personalized thank you message or token of appreciation, shoutouts on social media, invites to events, merchandize, on-field tours etc. Such acts of gratitude are necessary to maintain long-term relationships for the future benefit of your nonprofit.
6) Take Your Cause to the Crowd
A great way to expand your donor base is to get your cause out to the crowd, to a community of caregivers who would be interested in knowing you and supporting you. In the age of the internet, spreading the word isn’t tough. Try online fundraising by partnering with a crowdfunding platform which could not only help you deal with any spontaneous costs or big projects, but will also help you get more donors.
If you have these aspects ticked off your checklist, you are all ready to spread the joy! So get started now!