How to Run Your Nonprofit Like a Business

Nonprofits need to change the way they operate, and start treating themselves like a business. Grab a seat (and call over your supervisor) 'cause this one is hitting all the points.


1. Focus on the Donation 

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Especially if you're going for the $5-$100 donation range, make the donation process easy as possible with as little barriers as possible. If you're asking 1,000 people for donations, don't lose over half of them because they don't have cash. You want to maximize the amount of times someone says YES. As great as reoccurring donations are, making someone fill out a whole page of information BEFORE donating is a huge roadblock. Give them the option to fill out a quick form AFTER they donate quickly and easily, without making their contact information vital.

When you ask someone for their information, they know exactly what your intentions are. They may not want to donate simply BECAUSE you’re going to email them again. Give them the option to make a one-time, non-committal donation and you’ll be surprised at how donations will start to increase because of the low level of commitment.


2. Your Board is an Asset and Should Be Leaned On

Avoid keeping your board in the dark between meetings because if you do, everything will come as a surprise making it harder to plead your case. The best business CEOs constantly engage with board members between meetings because those board members have valuable expertise. It’s hard to run a nonprofit but board members can be leveraged to make things easier. The icing on the cake is that when you’re in the board meeting, the board members you’ve kept in the loop will almost always go to bat for you because they know the full story. This is particularly useful in conflict situations.


3. Team Up with Businesses


Partnerships between nonprofits and businesses is no different than business to business partnerships — they’re meant to create synergies. In the case of nonprofit support, businesses might not want to write a check, but they could have an amazing venue they can offer at little to no cost in exchange for some recognition. Once you name drop your corporate partner a few times and brag about their generosity on social media, you’ll find there’s a lot more willingness from the for-profit world to support your cause. 9 times out of 10 a business looks at a partnership with a nonprofit as a business development and marketing maneuver. It’s not wrong to embrace this! Do everything you can to foster win-win situations between your nonprofit and a business and you’ll be more successful in the long run.

Fundraising TipsChad Kahn