Posts tagged #Nonprofit

#ThrowbackThursday What is a Non-Profit?

Understanding What Non-Profits Do

by Jack Shand; Executive Partner of The Portage Group; introduced by associate Casey White

What does a non-profit do? I can't easily answer that question. At first glance I thought, why should I be able to ? I'm new to the non-profit world and just learning. But then when I gave it second consideration I realised I had actually worked for several non-profits over spanning over 15 years of my life. I was an event coordinator for Big Brothers Association of Canada in my teens. I organized the relay for life as a contractor to the Canadian Cancer Society. I worked in administration for OUR Ecovillage, a non-profit community in Shawnigan Lake. Wow. There are so many active non-profits, I wonder if you were ever a part of one without really grasping how they were structured or what non-profit really meant?

I'm looking back now for this edition of #throwbackthursday for the TPG blog to start at the beginning, gain a greater understanding for what non-profits do, and then use that as a foundation to look at how non-profits began and how they are evolving into #futureassociations. 

Here is an article, originally found on Charity Village, "Understanding What Non-Profits Do"

"First, two observations: Observation one is that many nonprofit organizations feel they are unique. Board leaders tell me this frequently when they are starting a hiring process for a new chief staff executive. Observation two is that many working in the nonprofit sector have struggled at some point in explaining exactly what it is their organization does, and how it adds value. Is it about reciting the mission statement perfectly?

So let's try and build understanding of what goes on in this sector and the "business" nonprofit organizations — associations and charities — are in.

Advocacy is a universal aim for organizations in the sector. Advocacy can focus on a myriad of audiences; it is not only about (and in some cases is not at all about) lobbying governments. Advocacy can be directed to promoting a profession, shaping legislation, engaging stakeholders, dialogue with and through media, or mobilizing a community.

The health charity advocates for better health, quality care, and an early cure. The social welfare organization advocates for better lives and better communities. The business association advocates for the conditions that are catalysts for jobs, investment, and a strong economy. The professional association advocates for better practices, higher standards, and quality performance. Think of an NGO, philanthropic cause, regulatory body, business or professional association and they are doing advocacy.

In my experience, the leaders and stakeholders of all nonprofits are asking that their interests be given influence, put on the map, and have a voice at the table.

Connectivity is the second universal goal shared by nonprofits. Since centuries before the Modern Era, in ancient Egypt and earlier, there is a rich and empowering history of people coalescing around an interest whether it be the arts, culture, or a trade. Indeed, isn't the principal aim of all nonprofit organizations to provide a forum for individuals to engage on matters they share in common? Look at the community cable television station announcements for local events. From places of worship, to sporting pursuits, to clubs, to fundraising events, in all cases it reinforces that the bringing together of people is alive and well. Networking in all its forms — B2B, social media, mentorship — is growing.
Education is the third business nonprofit organizations share. Organizations gather, house, produce and share knowledge. In the United States and Canada, associations and charities are a leading source of adult education and training, possibly second only to private and public educational institutions.

Consider the sizeable resources every city of consequence in the world devotes to attracting conventions, conferences, seminars, symposia, and workshops — events owned in many cases by associations.

For members of professions, from architects to zoologists, there is the impressive business of professional publications, accreditation, and certification that is developed and delivered by nonprofits. In fact for some time there has been a trend where professional associations and educational institutions are forming strategic alliances, including MBA programs, with curriculum in specialist tracks geared to human resource professionals, management consultants, insurance brokers and others.

There is a combined effect of this activity, recognized in constitutions and by democratic governments throughout the world. Nonprofit organizations are special, not in the unpleasant nuance of special interest, but because of the value associations and charities bring to society. Unconvinced? Then think of the tax-exempt status enjoyed by all organizations in this sector. Consider as well the privileged access the sector has to governments. Governments recognize that the organizations comprising this sector add real value to good policy making and to bettering society. Simply, nonprofit organizations contribute to and are needed by society, and their special role has been validated by governments. When you are next asked about what nonprofit organizations do, what your association or charity does, remember the valued work that we have in common:

Advocacy

Connectivity

Education

If you work for an association or a charity, here is our universal business card. It is a membership card we all share because it well symbolizes what nonprofit organizations do, our lead position doing it, and the passion we bring to our work."

Content is © Jack Shand and is reprinted with permission.

 

Posted on January 28, 2016 and filed under Trends, Leadership, Partnerships.

Breaking Through the Status Quo: Challenging Your Organizational Limits

By Alan Ward We don’t know our limits until we push past them.

Is this true?  It sounds like it could be true.  If you asked me, though, if I knew my limits my automatic thinking answer would be “Yeah, pretty well.”  I more or less know what I can and cannot do.  Ergo, I probably know my limits.

My deeper thinking process, however, would question that conclusion.  All I really know is what I have done, what I have done well or not so well, and what I stay away from doing.  I know my experience, but not my limits.

Would You Let a Monkey Take Charge of Assessing the Needs and Priorities of Your Members? When to DIY and When to Get Help With Your Membership Survey

With low-cost survey tools like SurveyMonkey at their fingertips and ever-present budgetary pressures, it is easy to see why some associations are foregoing market research expertise and going the DIY route where their member needs surveys are concerned.

Show Your Members They Drive the Agenda With a One-Page Strategic Plan

There are a number of tools you can use to succinctly and effectively communicate to your members that they drive the association agenda. The one-page strategic plan is a great way to present your strategic plan in a succinct way to your members - the key is to make it clear that their input is being used to drive the agenda. Below is one example of a one-page member-driven strategic plan. Here is an example.

The Characteristics of Executive Leadership

Outstanding leaders in the not-for-profit sector have common characteristics. Certainly they must be aligned with their employer's mission and be a compelling advocate who engages others in that mandate. They must be effective communicators. Leaders engender confidence. What else are not-for-profit boards seeking in staff leaders?