Friday, July 30, 2010

The Nonprofit Sector - Moving at a Slower Pace

Written By: Caitlin Foster, Summer Associate

Constaré’s mission in the non-profit world is to get such organizations to act and think more like for profit businesses, with the ultimate goal of becoming sustainable. While this may seem like common sense, non-profits are notorious for operating inefficiently without sustainable strategies in mind. Although many non-profits are successful, there are weaknesses in how many smaller (and larger) not for profits are managed. One of the main weaknesses of non-profits seems to be the length of time it takes to get things done; many non-profits are plagued with slow paced work and outcomes. This slow pace could mean any of the following things—slowness of grant writing, slowness in launching marketing campaigns, updating website, filing tax returns, etc. This weakness is not to downplay the passion or time that many board members and volunteers put into managing nonprofits. However, passion for helping the needy (or any another noble cause) cannot alone make an organization successful. There are reasons that non-profits operate at a slow pace but if they want to be more successful in fulfilling their missions they must change how they are organized and run.

Non-profits may operate slowly and inefficiently for a variety of reasons. Volunteers and people who have full time jobs often staff non-profits and this has an effect on what people can do/have time for. While a person may be committed and passionate about the organization’s cause, they may have prior engagements that lead to slower turn around time in non-profits. Other issues with time may be related to technology. Oftentimes, communication between board members is not organized and information sharing is less than adequate. Without proper communication, carrying out simple activities becomes slower and the productivity of the non-profit could decrease. Instituting something such as Google Apps, which would create a unified email and file sharing between board members, would ensure that everyone has access to the same documents at the same time. However, non-profits are often slow to change techniques and update technology. Some may still be relying solely on U.S. Mail for newsletters and donations while others have moved to the Internet. While monthly or yearly mailings are still a good idea, a nonprofit cannot be successful without having a presence on the Internet. Every minute longer it takes to get something done or adapt to new trends, means fewer services provided to those in need and potentially less money donated to the cause.

In today’s society, there are more non-profits than ever. Many of these organizations are providing competing services. Making sure that your non-profit operates at a fast and efficient pace is, therefore, of the utmost importance.