What sets a nonprofit organization apart

Having as of today been involved in founding and running the Financial Policy Council for four years now, I am often asked what really sets a nonprofit organization such as the Financial Policy Council apart.

First, there are some characteristics, which are found in all good Non-Profits. Some of these are, in no particular order, as below:

  1. Clarity of vision – knowing exactly what the Non Profit wants to achieve.
  2. A well-developed theory of change – clarity and understanding of how change happens in the lives of people.
  3. An ability to demonstrate that change has happened in lives of the organization’s constituents; whether it is directly and/or exclusively attributable to the efforts of the said Non-Profit.
  4. Good internal governance mechanisms, with systems of checks and balances in all functions.
  5. A clearly defined accountability to all stakeholders along with full transparency in operations – Non Profits are after all custodians of public money.
  6. Diversity in terms of board and staff.

Second, I think it’s important for non-profits to have a solid presence on social media because it’s a cheap yet effective form of marketing.

Here are 6 other important practices:

  1. Use a targeted tone and persona to set yourself apart
  2. Blog great content to become a trusted source
  3. Write shareable Facebook posts to increase engagement
  4. Re-tweet to develop friends and affiliates
  5. Use Google+ to network with other organizations
  6. Use contests to capture new members

And these are the last 6 Key features for a great non-profit that should seal all:

  1. Its mission, structure, and strategies reflect the fact that it is a business which must be sustainable much like a for-profit enterprise. The only difference is that all potential “profit” is reinvested to benefit society or a particular community or cause instead of being paid out to investors or used to build value for them. It still needs to recruit and retain talented staff, understand and give excellent service to the client or customer, etc…
  2. It has a board made up of committed people who are among its leading financial supporters. Many a promising group has been sunk by failing to attract the right board members. If you need domain expertise you can’t obtain through hiring, consider involving volunteers or creating an advisory board. Your “big board” should be made up of people of means who are well-connected in your community and passionate about your mission.
  3. It has an excellent reputation in its community and its field of action. Past problems and conflicts will be remembered long after the tenure of those who created them.
  4. It is completely transparent in fundraising, overhead, and the ways in which funds are spent and accounted. Indeed, it goes beyond legal requirements to promote transparency.
  5. It keeps up-to-date technologically and in communications, and makes a point of involving younger people today who are the wealthy donors of the future.
  6. It often is a funder itself, in a modest or not so modest way, of other, smaller nonprofits in its field. To do this creates, among other things, the kind of reputation that excels at fundraising, board recruitment, and high-quality staff hiring.

Your feedback is as always greatly appreciated.

Share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad Abdelnour is a political activist and is the Founder and President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.