Running a business and a non profit has more similarities than you might expect. While the end goal of a business and non profit are both materially different, the ways of reaching the differing goals can often be the same. This article explores ways that you can apply sound business skills to your non profit to turbo-charge performance.
It's unusual for a non profit to raise finance. However, there's no reason why this should be. If a business finds that it can increase performance through raising finance, then why can't a non profit further their pursuit towards their goals through doing that too? Raising finance may allow your non profit to spend money on marketing and PR, which could in turn allow you to generate more income in the form of donations or sales. And through increasing your income you should be able to spend more money furthering your cause or strengthening your balance sheet in the long run.
Political parties, for example, are non profits that will often borrow money. While they will receive donations from supporters, they will receive loans from them too. Think about how you could apply this same thinking in your non profit.
Spend Money To Make Money
While it's well known that a business must spend money to earn money, this is a mantra that is often lacking in the non profit sector. While non profits are usually happy to incur costs of sales, they are usually less happy to incur less direct expenses. Over the last decade more executives from industry have gained positions within the non profit sector, and as a result this line of thinking is becoming gradually outdated. Charities in the UK are now spending more money on advertising, and even paying the wages of staff to make collections in the street. One reason for this could be that that non profits have to be more careful about their margins that other organizations. A charity, for example, will be asked to demonstrate the percentage of donations that is spent on worthy causes.
While business owners will spend millions to develop their brand, non profits often fail to put adequate thought into how their brand is perceived. That's why it can often be worthwhile to appoint qualified marketing executives, or to work with an agency with the appropriate in-house resources.
Every interaction that a person has with your non profit brand has an impact on how well your organisation is perceived. You could have a PR person drum up mentions of your organisation when you could offer a relevant quote; you could your marketing agency improve your website's rankings for search terms that are relevant to what you do.
This should help you further the goals of your non profit. If someone is looking to buy from you, or donate to you, wouldn't they rather do it with a brand they know and trust? This way of thinking has worked for business entities for centuries, and works for non profit organisations too.