Six Rules for the Effective Non-Profit

Non-profit organizations whether they are small, storefront churches, the American Red Cross or anything in between really have to learn a few basic rules to be successful.

The first is to define what it defines as success. It is easy to confuse good intentions with actual results. The definition, from management guru, Peter F. Drucker is not only simple to understand, it helps non-profit executives think about all the other aspects of their mission and work.

  • The success of any non-profit is measured by its ability to move the recipient of a service to a provider of that service. For instance, when a church inspires its members who listen to ones who evangelize, it is successful. Another way to think of this is what would happen and what would you need to do to move the recipients of your services to replace you? If they did this, what would you and your staff be free to do?
  • Every project or activity needs a champion. Committees and Task Forces are fine, but to make things happen, you need a small group of three who are committed to it. It is also easy to not delegate roles and responsibilities clearly and effectively. The second rule is effective delegation and finding champions who are committed to their role and their task.
  • Every project needs a plan that passes the common sense threshold. Can this work, really? This is challenging, but using some large stick-it-notes the team can create a simple process map, what needs to be done and by whom. With the team creating this process map and the resources needed; including money, people and resources outside their own group, they will build a clearer vision and the unity to accomplish their goals.
  • Every project must pay for itself. Having this discussion early on weeds out ideas and people who want to suggest projects, but are not really committed to helping implement them. It also allows you to figure out how to start, even if in a small way.
  • Learn to see resources all around you. The resources we think we need are almost always already available to us, the people we know. We need to learn to see opportunity and abundance in the world around us and in the people we are sharing our lives and work with.
  • Leadership is about specific direction. Leadership is as much about crafting ways for people to participate on their terms as in providing a big vision. Learning how to write effective job descriptions that fit the needs or the organization AND the individual.
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