Is Your Nonprofit Thriving?

Do you ever walk into a place and just feel it—an energy, a buzz, a vibe?

Do you think you have it at your organization?

4 Internal Benchmarks That Your Nonprofit is Thriving

Before you ask yourself if your nonprofit’s “thrive-ability” emanates from just these four things—is it really that simple?!—realize they’re broad indicators. But they get you thinking in terms of the totality of your organization. Pressure points within these four areas can create or deflate a nonprofit’s ability to thrive.

1. People

The key word here: Respect. It boils down to respecting differences of opinion, work styles, communication and values among your colleagues and board alike.

Seeking common spots among those differences, and not being critical of them, can yield greater respect and ultimately build coalition. Like a magnet, people are more apt to come to you, support you and work for you when they feel respected and understood. Respect builds an organizational vibe of “we’re all in this together.” A tribe, if you will.

2. Programming

The visible, living, breathing manifestation of your mission. A nonprofit that’s buzzing with purpose continually develops programs and services that can tie back directly to the mission and answer, “Yes, this is why we exist.”

So ask yourself, when at a crossroads with a program or community service: Does this program (or service) have a direct tie back to the mission? Or are you doing it because a sizeable donation or vocal supporter is backing the initiative? The mission must lead the decision-making; otherwise, you’ll find yourself off course and running low on gas.

3. Peers

Thriving nonprofits value their community of people, those, specifically, who make the engine run without pay: volunteers. For them, volunteers aren’t simply “the doers;” they’re also the speakers and valued advocates. They do a good job of getting volunteers immediately connected to the cause through firsthand emotional experiences, and find “sweet spots of service” between volunteers’ talents and passions and your nonprofit’s need.

1 Easy Tip: Never underestimate the value of a genuine thank-you. A quick text, a glowing moment of gratitude posted to social media, or even a smile and handshake builds affinity. People will also appreciate your kindness and pass it along, increasing brand visibility and positive publicity.

4. Board

A nonprofit that’s on the right track has a board that’s got its back. Not only are board members well-connected within community circles and able to raise funds, but they also talk you up at every opportunity within those circles. They’re energetic advocates, speaking from the heart.

And they show up and do the work that needs to be done, lending their professional expertise on committees as well as at meetings, and attending events to see the fruits of their labors and the mission in action.

1 Easy Tip: Inviting board members to a staff holiday party or luncheon potluck fosters better working relationships. Let them see your staff in the everyday as well as on special days.

ONE BIG THING. Thriving nonprofits are able to transcend the limitations of their own internal politics and focus on “working with and through others to create more impact than they could ever achieve alone,” write authors Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant in their book, Forces for Good.

They’re outward focused, centered more on maximizing external partnerships, advocating for government policies, working with businesses, building nonprofit networks and building a movement rather than building a more streamlined operation. To achieve that end, they’re willing to share leadership and quickly adapt. They’re also willing to let operational efficiencies be good enough to attain a higher, broader impact.

If you feel like you’ve got this covered—your nonprofit’s people, programming, peers and board are on the right course to build a movement—let’s take a look at your planned giving program. Is it also thriving? Or could it use some tending to?

Download our Thriving Planned Giving Program Checklist and see how you stack up.

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