There is a reason a charity or association has been set up in the first place – usually to deliver upon a particular purpose because there is a need not being met within the community or industry. And, there are usually plenty of individuals with a passion and a heart to make a difference for a particular cause.
So, as a non-profit delivers on its purpose, the community who is having its needs met generally come to depend upon that non-profit for the ongoing ability to deliver upon its services in a sustainable manner. So, how important is it to be business-like to create a sustainable future for both parties?
Recently in Western Australia the Community Council for Australia (which represents charities and non-profits across Australia) suggested that non-for-profit organisations should ‘make better investment decisions to increase cash flow’. The reason for this being the contribution charities make to the economic footprint and the opportunity for Boards of Trustees to make decisions to leverage off their assets to maximise their income.
There is also an opportunity to be more business-like and think strategically about where your organisation will be in 5 years time, not just focusing on the immediate needs. This sometimes takes a bit of a mind-shift – here are some tips from Ethan Ohs of The Guardian to achieve this:
- Manage talent that allows for individuals to grow themselves in order to grow your charity
- Build a board with a multitude of skill, experience and talents
- Take risks to remain relevant, grow and lead in your field
- Invest in people facilities, fundraising and marketing
- Have a plan B and continuously review your progress, tweaking strategy if necessary
But, while making sure that a business-like focus help improve your charity, be careful not to make it drive your charity! One such example we came across demonstrates the need to bear in mind what your purpose was in the first place and how all activity aligns with how you are perceived as an organisation – right down to relating with people at all levels. Click here for a great story about how important it is to keep it real!