Nonprofit organizations are businesses with the bottom line of social good.
The measure of nonprofit greatness is in the value a nonprofit contributes to society. It is not about wealth and it is not about being “too big to fail.” It is a simple matter of creating a better neighborhood, community, and society than the one we started with. In brief, greatness is achieved by leaving this world a better place than it was when we arrived. This is a core value of Tom Klaus & Associates. Our mission is, therefore, to partner with nonprofit leaders to keep their organizations fit, strong, and effective in the cause of the greater good.
Great nonprofits and their leaders are always mindful of three important dynamics.
All organizations attempt to accomplish their mission within a larger context that is unpredictable, constantly changing, and has many variables. The context is also a community consisting of citizens with lived experience of the issue being addressed by the organization’s mission, programs, or services. Deep and wide community participation and ownership is vital to non-profit success and achieving genuine good with the community. The context is complex and requires organizations and their leaders to be nimble, creative, inclusive, reflective, courageous, ethical, and highly adaptive.
Six Greatness Factors
Great non-profits pay attention to six factors that directly affect their effectiveness:
- Purposeful Action – that supports a well-defined vision and mission, and strategic goals
- People – whether leadership, staff, volunteers, or community members, in the right roles with the right heart (a passion for the vision and mission)
- Plan – a clear understanding of who needs to do what by when with high quality
- Process – doing the right things (actions, tactics, and strategies) in the right way (ethically grounded) in order to facilitate and sustain change
- Progress – demonstrated movement toward the right results (aligned with the vision, mission, and goals) that contribute to the greater good
- Perceived value – the community (those residents with lived experience of the issue being addressed) sees and assesses that there is genuine value (the greater good) that is being produced for all
The Organizational Culture
Nonprofits that achieve greatness understand and attend to their own culture. Leaders, especially, understand their most important function might just be to establish and nurture an organizational culture that makes it possible for their staff and board to attend to the factors and context in a way that achieves the good for all.
The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.
– Edgar Schein, originator of the term, “Organizational Culture”