Stealing Smart: For-Profit Best Practices for Nonprofits
"The common sense of running a smart organization that meets budget and earns its way is really what people mean when they say that nonprofits should run like for-profits," Hart says. "That means incorporating smart ways to manage budget well, manage people well, manage resources well — skill sets that unfortunately have not been seen as paramount in the nonprofit sector.
"People have risen to the top who do not bring those skills in some nonprofits, and the nonprofits are at a disadvantage for that reason," he adds.
So what are these best practices nonprofits can "steal smartly" from for-profits?
If you don't have a plan, it's difficult to achieve any goal that's set forth. That's why so many nonprofits spend lots and lots of time in meetings labeled as strategic planning.
Unfortunately, these "strategic planning" sessions aren't really strategic at all, at least not according to what author and consultant Ben Delaney, founder of CyberEdge Information Services, has seen during his career. Delaney entered the nonprofit sector after years of working in marketing in the business world, and his experience on both sides of the fence — as a board member and former executive director on the nonprofit side and marketer on the for-profit side — opened his eyes.
"I see nonprofits go through strategic planning exercises often wasting days and days of executives' time developing big plans for the next three, five, 10 years," he says. "Often these plans are not truly strategic but long-term, tactical plans."
"You don't know who's going to be working there in 20 years, but you know the departments you have. So you must ask yourself what do you do now that keeps us on the path to our goals and helps build our strength to those goals," Delaney says.