Truth Is Truth: What Makes a High-Performing Nonprofit
It’s been nine years since Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod first published "Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits."
You may remember this groundbreaking book was the result of four years of research, studying thousands of high-impact nonprofit organizations with the goal of unpacking their successes.
What Leslie and Heather discovered wasn’t all that earth-shattering, although many nonprofit leaders greeted the news with surprise or astonishment.
The truths they highlighted are as true today as they were when the book was fresh off the press.
What they learned was that nonprofit organizations that are consistently successful possess the same characteristics as any organization that is subject to market forces—nonprofit or for-profit.
Ooo, there’s that "business" word!
First, nonprofits—that experience consistent, growing success—have harnessed market forces. They understand and apply Principle 1 of The Eight Principles™, "Donors are the Drivers®." Donors—investors in your cause—provide the energy your enterprise depends upon for its existence. And not merely in money. But also in passion, belief and legitimacy.
These high-performers work diligently to convert their supporters—volunteers, board members, staff and, especially, their investors—to become evangelists, spreading the good news.
Evangelists aren’t shy. They share their messages with everyone with whom they come into contact. Principle 3 of The Eight Principles™ is "Leadership Leads™." The positional leaders—the board members—are evangelists who, in turn, inspire others to be.
Successful nonprofits embrace an abundance philosophy. It’s definitely not the “If you get yours, I won’t get mine" scarcity we see so much in the nonprofit world.
These organizations readily work with other like groups to build a larger pie—not simply re-divide it.
Philanthropy is elastic. What does that mean? It means, simply, that it expands as nonprofits engage their investors in a relational way. It only contracts when donors aren’t engaged—as with the bloodless transactional fundraising that too often is the fallback in the nonprofit world.
High-performing nonprofits certainly aren’t obsessing over the "overhead myth." They fully have embraced Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™, "Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™."
You must regularly invest in the infrastructure of your organization—including fundraising. You must ruthlessly evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Then, jettison what’s not!
You must align the pieces of your fundraising program to work together toward a common purpose—not be a collection of separate efforts, each on its own planet, yet soliciting the same group of supporters!
Finally, high-performing nonprofits are focused on achieving sustainability in their fundraising. That’s as in year-in and year-out with growth along the way. What a novel concept!
Here’s something Leslie and Heather didn’t find. That size is an indicator of effectiveness or health. Hmm.
Why? Because it’s not.
Any organization can choose today to become a high-performing nonprofit. It’s a choice. A deliberate one.
It’s up to you. Will you choose high performance?
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it!
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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