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Nonprofit Management Techniques that Ensure Success

Nonprofit organizations are key partners and vital to addressing the social, economic, and educational needs of the public. Government agencies often have to deal with bureaucratic red tape that nonprofit organizations can typically avoid. Nonprofit organizations have been established to address a multitude of public problems that have been unaddressed or unmet. These include but are not limited to: dropout prevention; parenting skills; financial stability; securing housing, furniture, clothes, and utility bill assistance; and job skills training. In today’s struggling economy, increasing numbers of people have become dependent on government assistance and nonprofit organizations. However, in order for nonprofit organizations to secure funding, to help individuals in need and to have successful outcomes, nonprofits must collaborate with many other entities and employ effective management techniques.


Nonprofit Collaborations

Government agencies frequently outsource services to nonprofit organizations due to the growing needs of the public.  More specifically, due to significant budget cuts in government agencies coupled with the economic downturn, the needs of the public are increasing while resources to address those needs are decreasing (Eschenfelder, 2010). However, nonprofits receive some of their funding from government agencies. The benefits of collaboration among nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, and government entities include administrative efficiency, avoiding redundant efforts, preventing costly competition for resources or clients, collaborative funding opportunities, and joint planning and program development (Eschenfelder, 2010).

In addition to government funding, nonprofit organizations receive funding from faith based organizations, businesses, individuals, fundraising campaigns and private donations to carry out their mission. Nonprofit organizations typically work with community organizations and the media in order to reach more individuals. Most recently, social media is being used as a medium for nonprofits to network with diverse groups of people and to bring awareness to their mission. All of the aforementioned individuals and funders are stakeholders in which nonprofits are accountable to report their success rates, failures and progress. Often times continued funding is contingent upon the data reported and favorable measurable results.


Management Techniques

The success of a nonprofit organization is dependent on its leadership, the employees and the organization’s outcomes. A person must have certain knowledge, skills and abilities in order to effectively manage a nonprofit organization. These skills include attracting the right stakeholders, hiring the right employees and developing a proven track record as a respected partner. The following management techniques are adapted from http://managementhelp.org/management/nonprofits.htm.

  • Governance (Board of Directors)
  • Fundraising and Grantwriting
  • Nonprofit budgeting and accounting
  • Program development and evaluation
  • Public policy
  • Volunteer programs


Governance (Board of Directors)

Nonprofit organizations are governed by a selected board of directors who often have special skills sets that are useful for overseeing a nonprofit. Boards of directors are typically required to give a set amount of money to an organization for each year that they serve on the board. A board of directors should consist of individuals who are diverse and support the mission of the organization. It is very important to select appropriate board members because their votes and expertise ultimately determine the strategic vision of the nonprofit.


Fundraising and Grantwriting

Once each member of the board of directors is selected, funding is needed so that the organization can provide services to the public. Nonprofit organizations do not charge for services, but most of the services provided are not free. Therefore, executive directors must be proficient in fundraising techniques and writing grants to secure funding. Executive directors must also hire individuals who can assist them with ensuring that all of the fiscal needs of the organization are met. More specifically, in addition to having funding to provide services, employees’ salaries and benefits must also be paid. For this reason, it is imperative for nonprofit organizations to obtain unrestricted funds in order to sustain.


Nonprofit Budgeting and Accounting

Nonprofit organizations that have a 501(c)(3) classification receive a tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Due to the various funding sources of nonprofits, special reporting and accounting methods must be used to properly document the cash flow of the organization. Any violations or inaccuracies in spending could result in a nonprofit organization losing their 501(c)(3) status, losing funders or being closed indefinitely.


Program Development and Evaluation

Funders and stakeholders like to know that their interests are being represented and their money is being used sufficiently. Therefore, nonprofit organizations must ensure that their programming services meet industry best practices, program implementation must be current and there must be an evaluation process to measure performance. Program evaluation is extremely important to ensure continued funding as well as ongoing community, business and government support.


Public Policy

Executive directors and board members must be knowledgeable of public policies that affect the organization’s service delivery methods. Nonprofit leaders must also be informed about policies that affect federal, state or local funding for public services. In addition, nonprofit organizations play an integral role in guiding and advocating for new legislation to serve the public.


Volunteer Programs

Volunteers are one of the most important components of nonprofit organizations. Without volunteers, many of the services provided would not be possible or affordable.  Volunteers donate their time, supplies, talents, and skills to nonprofit organizations and their clients. The coordination of volunteers is essential to nonprofit organizations. Volunteer coordinators are responsible for training, retaining and recruiting appropriate volunteers; creating volunteer job descriptions and policies; and coordinating volunteer appreciation events.

In summary, all of the aforementioned management techniques should be implemented in conjunction with each other to ensure that a nonprofit organization is productive. Nonprofit organizational leaders need to have exemplary boards of directors and expert fundraisers, grant writers, and accountants on their staff. Nonprofit leaders must also constantly evaluate and revisit their program model and implementation methods. Finally, executive directors must remain abreast of public policies and create exceptional volunteer programs. All of these techniques can establish the way for more collaborations and successful partnerships. Thriving nonprofit organizations are more likely to retain the most qualified and motivated employees, to achieve the mission of the organization and to serve those most in need.


Author: Tamika Russell, Ph.D., Dr. Russell is a Site Coordinator for a national dropout prevention program and nonprofit organization, Communities In Schools (CIS). In addition to working for CIS, she currently works as an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix and Strayer University. She can be contacted via [email protected] (Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily represent those of her employers.)

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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