What is one way a nonprofit organization can run its business like a for-profit? What are the benefits?
To help you maximize your organization’s operations and overall impact, we asked business professionals and consultants this question for their insights. From prioritizing data to investing in social media marketing, there are several ways you can manage your non-profit like a for-profit business.
Here are 10 ways nonprofits can run like for-profit businesses:
- Track Your Expenses Like a Hawk
- Review Analytics Tools
- Invest in Social Media Marketing
- Set Up Quarterly Goals
- Devote Adequate Resources to Accounting
- Equip Employees for Success
- Measure the ROI of Your Marketing Programs
- Leverage Your Nonprofit’s Data
- Undergo a Digital Transformation
- Measure Progress Using OKRs
Track Your Expenses Like a Hawk
Some nonprofits spend money like they have an unlimited amount, and that is exactly the opposite of what a for-profit business would do. If you want to run your nonprofit like a for-profit business, you should track and monitor your expenses very closely.
Don’t simply spend money because you have it — spend it because you have to. The less money spent on needless or excessive expenses, the more money you will have to put towards helping those in need your nonprofit was started for in the beginning.
Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Review Analytics Tools
Put a greater emphasis on the data you can collect, especially when it comes to your marketing. It is common to focus on stats and data surrounding your donors, but there are a lot more pieces of information you can use similar to the ways for-profits do.
For instance, you can review your Google Analytics and analyze your referral traffic to make educated decisions about your marketing dollars. You can use customized tracking (UTM) codes to collect specific data on what is working well for your organization and what is not. You can review your social media insights regularly and decide if your current strategy is working.
The data is there. You just have to use it!
Audrey Hutnick, Smallwave Marketing
Invest in Social Media Marketing
Savvy social media marketing is one effective way to run a nonprofit like a for-profit. Nonprofit handles can and should be just as much about building a brand and earning business as spreading awareness of the organization’s cause and the work. Earning a following and engaging an audience full-time means more eyes on campaigns and more contributions in turn.
Fundraising is largely about establishing relationships, and having an ongoing rapport with followers makes the audience more receptive to donation requests than making first contact during the campaign. Plus, having a constant presence means generating value for your audience even when an ask is not involved, which makes the relationship feel more mutually beneficial.
Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
Set Up Quarterly Goals
Like any other for-profit business, a nonprofit organization needs to set up its goals every quarter. Defining goals and regularly revising them should be an integral part of your organization’s strategy.
One idea is to use the OKRT framework (Objectives, Key Results, and Tasks) to make your goals specific and relevant. Firstly, you create objectives that are big and inspirational. Then, you think of measurable results that you want to achieve to bring you closer to your ultimate goal. As the last step, you split your work into specific tasks to help you plan and stay focused.
Specific goal-setting helps your organization stay on track and focus on the most critical initiatives. It allows you to measure your efforts, be accountable, and take full responsibility for your actions. Goals revised every quarter with collaborative feedback from different people can help your nonprofit organization reach its full potential and be more effective in daily work.
Dorota Lysienia, LiveCareer
Devote Adequate Resources to Accounting
While most nonprofit organizations recognize the importance of hiring professionals with expertise in their area for program and development staff, this is not always the case for accounting functions. When nonprofits are small with limited staff, it’s not uncommon for these roles to be simply part of someone else’s job.
With software like QuickBooks, it is possible to know little about accounting to get the basics done. As organizations grow, needed attention to professionalize accounting is often not paid.
Organizations with strong accounting departments see invoices paid on a more timely basis, receivables collected quicker, and cleaner audit opinions. These organizations also see stronger internal controls to reduce error and deter fraud.
Stephanie Cory, Stephanie Cory Consulting
Equip Employees for Success
The one significant aspect that both nonprofits and for-profits share, is the fact that their success is dependent on the hard work and concentrated efforts of their team members. As long as their team members are equipped with the best tools, technologies, and processes, the operations will continue to run smoothly.
Non-profits can take inspiration from this and follow in the footsteps of for-profits, investing in the growth and development of their core members and ensuring their well-being.
Sam Santa, Zeitholz
Measure the ROI of Your Marketing Programs
Strategic marketing is critical for any organization — be it a for-profit business or a nonprofit organization. Having said that, marketing can only be truly effective if the marketing initiatives are tied to a goal and the return-on-investment (ROI) can be calculated (to the best extent possible).
For instance, a non-profit organization’s website should be SEO-friendly to capture the right audience organically via Google Search. The key metrics that can help in ROI measurement here could be the cost of creating website content, monthly SEO traffic, and conversions (e.g., clicks on donate button, sign up to become a member, or more).
Priyam Srivastava, Marketing Manager
Leverage Your Nonprofit’s Data
Nonprofits should monitor their data just as closely as for-profit organizations do. Keeping track of key metrics can help nonprofits determine which fundraising channels are more effective, meaning that they can reduce their limited time being wasted on fruitless endeavors.
Per Target Analytics, the average nonprofit is missing out on millions in untapped giving potential. Monitoring data like for-profit organizations will help you close those giving gaps. Data can also help you set benchmarks for donor acquisition, donor attrition, and recurring donors and set goals for improving those metrics.
Candace Kassman, Qgiv
Undergo a Digital Transformation
For-profit organizations make sure that they employ the best digital tools and technologies to streamline their workflow and increase overall productivity, which is a great strategy that nonprofits can undertake.
For example, automating repetitive tasks, using cloud-based services for knowledge sharing, and incorporating project management tools into their workflow are all exceptional ways for nonprofits to reinvent their current workflows.
Krista Haws, Dripped Coffee
Measure Progress Using OKRs
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are enormously useful for any organization that needs to evaluate itself rigorously. For-profits tend to use these in managing roadmaps and revenue targets, but nonprofits can use them in just the same way to maintain healthy cash flow, capital allocation and to demonstrate to their donors and supporters that their organization maintains financial and operational discipline.
Matthew Ramirez, Rephrase
Focus on your mission and push forward while letting another company handle the administrative tasks. At Corban OneSource, we pride ourselves on supporting those determined to help others. Our HR outsourcing services include payroll management, benefits administration, compliance, onboarding, administrative paperwork, and more. Reach out to Corban OneSource to create and customize an HR outsourcing program for nonprofits that fits your needs and budget.