Running a nonprofit business comes with a special set of challenges.

How to launch a successful nonprofit: 7 time-proven tips

Finding and allocating funding, staffing your business with dedicated and passionate workers, and building long-term strategies can all be especially difficult when you’re running a not-for-profit business.

But starting a nonprofit also comes with some valuable rewards like making a tangible difference in the world.

Here’s how you can give your nonprofit the best chances of long-term success.

1. Define your purpose clearly

Many nonprofits, especially new or small nonprofits, suffer from a poorly-defined purpose. For long-term success, you need to figure out exactly what your nonprofit’s mission is.

A vague mission like “preventing deforestation” or “providing housing for the homeless” won’t cut it, either.

Decide exactly where and how you want to carry out your nonprofit’s mission.

Avoid the temptation to try to do everything – instead, pick a single area where you think you can make a difference.

2. Make short-term and long-term plans

Maybe you have a plan for your nonprofit’s first month or first year.

That’s great, but do you know where you want to be five or ten years down the road?

Both long-term and short-term plans are important for a nonprofit’s success.

Short-term goals help you decide where to direct your energy on a daily basis, while long-term goals help you make big decisions and create your overall strategy.

3. Be ready and willing to adapt

Times change, and most nonprofit businesses have to adapt to keep up.

Think about what you’ll do if your chosen cause changes or disappears in the coming years.

Will you shift your focus? How will you redirect your energy?

It’s also smart to track the results you’re getting from your current strategy.

If it’s not working very well – that is, if you’re not getting funding and real-world results – it’s time to try something else.

4. Manage your money wisely

Many nonprofits suffer from poor money management.

It’s essential to keep a close eye on finances so that you’ll have enough to fund your work, pay your staff, and save for the future.

If you’ve got the budget for it, you may want to hire an accountant, unless you’ve got business accounting experience yourself.

If a professional isn’t in the budget, non profit accounting software is built specifically for the financial aspects of nonprofit organizations and can help you track your income and spending.

5. Delegate tasks to other people

You can’t do everything yourself.

As your nonprofit grows, you’ll need to hire staff or find volunteers to help you out.

Once your nonprofit is too big to manage by yourself, it’s important to delegate work to trustworthy people, so that you can focus on your overall direction and strategy.

If you try to do everything by yourself, you’ll just get bogged down, and your nonprofit will suffer from a lack of strong leadership.

6. Keep everybody else in the loop

Update your donors, your volunteers, and the public regularly when you set new goals or achieve something great.

Talking about your nonprofit’s accomplishments might feel like bragging, but it’s very important for keeping morale high and boosting your nonprofit’s public image.

If people know about the kinds of projects your nonprofit is working on, they’ll be more likely to want to support you, either through donations or through volunteering.

7. Don’t try to do everything

A nonprofit business can make a difference in the world, but it can’t save the world on its own.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do too much with your nonprofit.

If your mission gets too vague, or if you don’t concentrate your energy on just one or two projects at a time, you’ll actually achieve less.

Choose one thing to do, and focus on doing it well.

The takeaway

Running a nonprofit can be a uniquely rewarding experience.

If you’re in charge of a nonprofit business, or if you’re thinking about starting one soon, these tips can help you stay on track and make a difference in the world.

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.


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