Good to Great: Growth Strategies for Up-and-Coming Nonprofits
There are lots and lots of very good, very worthy nonprofit organizations out there. But how many truly "great" charities are there? You know, nonprofits that run efficient programs, maximize fundraising and operate as a unified, holistic organization?
Given the rapid rate of turnover in the nonprofit sector and donor retention rates that leave plenty to be desired, evidence suggests that there aren't too many nonprofit organizations that have reached their full potential.
There are myriad reasons why—lack of funding, stagnant leadership, more discerning and demanding donors, economic circumstances, and the list goes on. But one of the biggest reasons is that so many nonprofits are content with being good, happy with the status quo and continuing to do things "the way they've always been done." That type of thinking, while common and relatively reasonable on the surface, actually stifles innovation and suppresses growth. That is especially true today, when donors and the public demand more from the charities they support—more transparency, more reporting, more personal communication, more options, more everything.
That's why "good is the enemy of great," says Bernard Ross, director of the Management Centre (=mc), an international management consultancy for nonprofits. Ross took this notion from acclaimed author and leadership guru Jim Collins' book, "Good to Great." It's been the foundation of Ross's work, utilizing Collins' teachings to help nonprofit organizations go from "good" to "great."
As Collins relays in his book, a great organization is one "capable of making a significant difference and achieving sustainability."
So how does an organization get to that point? It certainly isn't easy, as Ross and =mc lay out.
In order to truly get to the next level, nonprofit leadership must take a good, hard look at the organization itself. It must assess where exactly the organization is at now, where it wants to go and what's needed to get there. This requires absolute, brutal honesty.