Tag Archives: mission

Nonprofit values and efficiency

Board members with experience and connections in the private sector can help nonprofit organizations grow and think in new ways. And nonprofit service can help board members from the private sector to grow and think in new ways, too.

www.fundraisinggoodtimes.comEfficiency and cost reductions often contribute to business success. Time and energy is devoted to developing and implementing strategies that increase the efficiency, value and profit while decreasing costs.  Technology, collaboration, and innovation have factored greatly in this process.

Technology, collaboration and innovation are also prevalent within the nonprofit sector. At the same time many nonprofits are often seen as inefficient. Sometimes even board members question the “results” of the nonprofits they serve. While questions are always welcome within organizations that value the full participation of all members, it is also important to consider some of the ways in which nonprofits, in general, are different from the private sector, in general.

Many nonprofits place trust, relationships, community building and diversity at the heart of their values and operations. This enables them to do the hard work that takes time – and sometimes generations – to accomplish. Ending poverty, eliminating health disparities, decreasing family violence and increasing educational attainment often require strong relationships, trust and a knowledge and understanding of the people being served. An efficiency-focused organization might, for example, choose to consolidate services in one location, eliminating neighborhood-based services. This can reduce operating costs and benefit staff who can work together more closely in one office instead of five smaller ones. But, this might not be what is best for the families being served. Removing service providers from the fabric of the community can decrease an organization’s understanding of the issues, concerns and assets of a neighborhood. It can make it more difficult for people to access services due to transportation issues. It can work to break down the trust that has been built up over years – a trust that encourages people to take different actions in an effort to achieve different outcomes.

Likewise, it may not be apparent to board members that a long-term receptionist is one of the most important people within the organization because of the relationships she has developed with families the nonprofit serves. She could be replaced with a new phone system, but what else might the organization loose that is core to its mission?

And that is the difference – nonprofits measure success by their ability to deliver on their mission. Sometimes that process is very similar to that used by the private sector. Sometimes it is different, or may appear inefficient. If you provide leadership for a nonprofit take time to understand the core values that drive the organization and how these are made manifest in operations.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.


Mission, Vision, and Plan


Successful fundraising begins long before a fundraising plan is ever created. It starts with your organization’s vision and mission. These two items are at the core of non-profit operations. It is the vision and mission that drive your strategic direction and goals. And it is the strategic direction that influences fundraising and the use of funds.

The chief executive for your organization is the person responsible for the vision and mission. Depending upon the structure of your organization this person could be the director, executive director, the chief executive officer, the president or chancellor. He or she is the person responsible for ensuring board members, employees, and volunteers understand the mission and vision and are in agreement with these. He is also responsible for ensuring the organization’s strategic direction — as documented in the strategic plan — is rooted in the mission and vision.

The work of defining your nonprofit’s mission and vision may have been done years ago. Or, these may be still evolving. Sometimes the process of defining these can appear to be complicated and too time consuming. But clearly defining these is critically important – they are the bedrock from which you will create your strategic, business, and/or operating plans. They are what will ultimately drive your fundraising.

Here’s how it works. Your mission and vision inform the creation of your strategic plan. Your strategic plan sets the path for your operations and activities. Knowing your current and projected future operations and activities informs your fundraising. While you can always raise some money, meeting your fundraising goal will require that you know how much you are seeking to raise and for what current and projected purposes. It all ties back to your mission and vision.

Here are our simple definitions. Your vision statement communicates your vision for the future — what you are seeking to achieve. Your mission statement communicates the purpose of your organization. Your strategic plan communicates how you will bring your vision and mission to life..

Your vision and mission statements should be short and concise — one or two sentences at most, if possible. Your strategic plan can be as simple or as complex as your organization requires. We are partial to short, clearly written plans that include easy-to-understand and easy-to-measure goals and objectives.

Once the vision and mission are established, it is the chief executive’s responsibility to ensure they are understood and that the board and employees are in agreement with them. All parties need to know these statements – and what they mean – inside and out. All need to be able to discuss the vision and mission when talking about the organization. Each needs to know the goals and objectives contained in the strategic plan and the progress being made toward these. These are some of the first steps in building towards fundraising success.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.