How to Set Yourself Up for Success as a Leader in Non-Profit

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed" (Proverbs 16:3) graphic
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed" (Proverbs 16:3) graphic

With tightened budgets, non-profit organizations are under increasing pressure to demonstrate long-term success. As with for-profit organizations, long-term success planning for non-profit organizations starts at the top. If you are, or aspire to be, a leader in non-profit, the following can help you drive real impact:

Identify your organization’s core value.

According to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, “A truly great enterprise makes such a unique contribution to the communities it touches, and does its work with such unadulterated excellence that, if it were to disappear, it would leave a gaping hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution on the planet.”

Ask yourself what unique contribution you want your organization to make in the community it serves. The answer doesn’t have to be earth shattering, but rather a contribution that would be missed if it were to go away. From here, work on committing your staff to the mission values for which your organization stands.

Nurture your organization’s culture.

A non-profit organization that nurtures its talent will enjoy a more committed and effective workforce. And, a more committed workforce means a greater employee return on investment.

As a leader, you must work to build a cohesive team that is passionate about your organization’s mission and values. This starts with making sure each employee feels that what they do matters to the success of the organization.

Keep in mind, it’s not enough to prescribe purpose to your staff – your staff has to buy into it. This is best achieved by creating an atmosphere of mutual trust where individuals feel valued, trusted and appreciated for the unique skills they bring to the table.

Clearly define roles.

It should come as no surprise that collaboration improves when team members have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities within an organization. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, without clarity, team members are likely to waste energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focusing on the task.

In fact, most problems that develop in an organization occur when team roles are not clearly defined. Develop written direction that clearly defines the specific responsibilities for which each team member will be held accountable, and share this document with your team.

Create a succession plan.

Your non-profit organization’s future success needs to transcend your leadership. In other words, your goal should be to make your organization great without you. It’s imperative that your leadership team embraces an ongoing process of succession, systematically identifying, assessing and developing talent to ensure leadership continuity.

Read ASAE’s article “Next in Line: Five Steps for Successful Succession Planning” to learn how. Spring Arbor University offers an 18-month, online MBA program that is designed to deliver the above competencies with the character you need to lead your organization into the future in a way that honors Christ.

Read more about our program here.

“The Gainey School of Business at Spring Arbor University is unique to any other college I’ve experienced. The business curriculum is centrally focused on ethics, leadership and practical business strategies to solve problems and promote growth within all stakeholders of an organization.” – Sherri Best, MBA graduate