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As a leader in a non-profit, you have a a passionate vision.  You’re devoted to a cause to truly help people, and you can imagine how your organization can accomplish it.  You’ve become creative in how you implement your ideas.

DeathtoStock_Medium2Your cause helps the poor, the needy, the homeless, the fatherless, the …fill-in-the-blank.  You are doing truly worthwhile work.

So why does your non-profit seem to struggle in terms of expanding your influence and outreach?

This article does not seek to criticize non-profits in any way, even if the title and section headings seem to suggest otherwise.

The goal is to offer meaningful solutions to the problems, so that you can succeed in accomplishing your compelling vision.  The fact is that true religion is taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves.  So if you are seeking to honor God, and this article helps you to do your work better, then God’s will is being done.

Your non-profit might not have all of the following problems.  I just hope that my experience can enhance your work and you, as an individual leader, as I identify chronic issues.

Lack of Organization

This doesn’t even necessarily mean that your non-profit has any problem with infrastructure (though that could be part of it).

What I’m talking about here is a lack of having a mobilizer present on the team.  Unfortunately, mobilizers (go-getters, prime executors, whatever you want to call them) are attracted to places where their high level of effectiveness will bring about high levels of rewards, such as a for-profit business.  It’s sometimes very difficult to make these people see that the value of work in a non-profit is the altruistic work itself.

So what ends up happening is that without these highly efficient people, your meetings are filled with tangents, nothing seems to be accomplished, and they turn into discussions about bureaucratic politics.  You seem to be dragged down by your board of directors, instead of supported in this good, but difficult work.

Solution:  Learn to Be a Better Organizer

Chances are you did not get into your cause because you were looking for a place to hone your organizational skills.  You got into it because you believe in the mission.

So you’re going to have to take it on yourself to be a lifelong-learner.  Read everything you can about running meetings, high-productivity, and goal-setting.  Make it one of your top priorities to become the “gift of mobilization” to your organization.

You're going to have to take it on yourself to be a lifelong-learner. #education Click To Tweet

No Incentives for Employees

coffee windowWhen a single employee ends up raising 60% of the needed funds all by himself, he doesn’t see a single dime of it.

Most people aren’t going to be okay with that.

And most of the time, this isn’t even a sinful or greedy motivation.  Everyone’s got a life outside of work – families, friends, church, etc.  And if they only have so much time for their families, then spending extra time to accomplish something good at work will take away from their family time.  Simple addition and subtraction, right?

But if their families consistently see them working late, and there is no benefit for them, such as more income to help decrease their debt or put toward taking care of grandma who is living with them and is in late-stage Alzheimer’s, then there’s going to be a problem.

The employee will eventually either tone down his work so that he can have more time for his family (thus leaving you with a less effective worker) or he will find employment somewhere where he will be rewarded for his effort (thus leaving you with no worker).

Solution:  Find Room in the Budget for Employee Incentives

I know this is so much easier said than done.  You’re on a shoestring budget as it is.

But if you’re not even trying to make it worth the employee’s while, then the only motivating factor left is the vision of the organization.  And though it may be extremely compelling, that employee has to consider the needs of his family, church, etc, and will act accordingly.

Lack of Strategic Partnerships

As a non-profit, you have probably already found ways to meet strategic partners who can benefit your organization financially.

That’s not really what I’m talking about, because if you can’t find ways to fund your non-profit, then this article can’t help you.

What I’m talking about here is strategic partnerships with others who can work alongside you in ways outside of donation.  Without these partnerships, you’ll be scratching your head looking at all the work to be done and almost no one to do it.

Solution:  Build Partnerships With a Purpose Greater than Seeking Funding

DeathtoStock_Medium8If you can convince someone to give you money because your vision is compelling enough, then you can convince other modalities to do other things, too.

Here are some examples:

Partner with the city to rebuild a city block through creative placemaking.

Partner with school systems and offer mentorships or internships for youth.  This is a long-term vision as it can build up your recruiting program.

Partner with businesses to provide specific services for your clients, such as food for the homeless or T-shirts at a fundraising event.

Partner with other non-profits to provide even more services for your clients, such as learning materials like The First Principles Series from BILD, International.

The Goal

The goal, of course, is to honor God through your non-profit.  Your good works are a testimony to God’s goodness in the gospel – that Jesus died for our sins, rose again, and is coming back.

If you can somehow work out these systemic problems, then you can be more effective.  You’ll impact more people and be able to offer more for them.

And Christ will be glorified as you change lives.

Your #goodworks are a testimony to #God 's goodness in the #gospel. Click To Tweet


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