3 Steps To Increase The Success Of Charity

In the spirit of the recent AzBL presentation by the representatives of Goodwill International & Goodwill of Central Arizona, I can’t help thinking of their success story compared to the suffering of many nonprofits that are constantly at death’s doorstep.  It may be that there are too many charitable causes competing for donations in our post-recession America, but I think it is also true that many nonprofits are managed without a sound business foundation.

In his 2013 TED talk, Dan Pollatta, author of Uncharitable, made a number of powerful points that are useful for today’s nonprofit leadership to consider:

  1. Nonprofit leadership and management need to focus more on the ends of their action compared to the process aspect in isolation. While the means require integrity and a mission, ultimate success necessitates a strong outcome focus.
  1. Board members of nonprofits can do some of their best charitable work by nurturing entrepreneurial and good management practices, just as they do in their for profit corporations. The “teaching a person to fish” metaphor may be particularly appropriate.
  1. Successfully evolving businesses regularly review their business plans and related assumptions, which are based on specific outcomes and are flexible for adjustment after contact with the marketplace. Traditional nonprofit annual strategic retreats for planning are increasingly out of touch with the dynamic requirements of today’s marketplace.

There is a moral outrage that we sometimes apply to for profit enterprises (“only in it for the money”) compared to nonprofits (“inspired by the right cause”).  As Mr. Pollatta notes, “real charity, as in grace, could not be undermined with more reverence paid to the notion of something noble.”