As a business leader, you have refined your skills and experience through years, companies, possibly even countries. You have turned around business lines, departments, and organizations. You have invested in teams, bringing them from satisfactory to exceptional.
Have you ever considered how God might be planning to use these experiences to bring about kingdom restoration?
God’s kingdom is not delineated by tax status or entity type. His glory is evident all over creation, and work is no exception. He is as present in businesses and nonprofits, as he is in working through His church.
Business leaders are uniquely positioned to use their skills to further God’s kingdom. Nonprofits are uniquely positioned to bring about restoration in the lives of their clients. How would individuals, communities, and workplaces be transformed if business leaders started investing in nonprofit leaders?
What if you could mentor a nonprofit leader, just as you have mentored business leaders, and help that nonprofit more effectively meet a need?
Similar to how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes people’s stages of growth from tangible needs (food, clothing, housing) to intangible desires (love, esteem, self-actualization), the goal of any organization is to move from surviving to thriving. This shift happens through:
- Financial stability
- Maximizing impact
Here are 3 things you can do to improve the lives of others through nonprofit leadership advisory.
1. Mentor the Executive Director toward the nonprofit’s financial stability.
What does nonprofit financial stability mean? In the most basic sense, it means that the nonprofit makes payroll, has steady cash flow, is current on accounts payable, and has sufficient cash on hand.
Similar to a business, strong financial management is the springboard from which all other organizational decisions can be made. However, the majority of nonprofits struggle with becoming financially stable. Often, the financial emphasis is on boosting programs that serve the client, and not on the realities of general operations costs. This results in high staff turnover and executive burnout.
Financial stability allows an Executive Director to shift away from crisis management. They can instead focus their attention on creating a workplace of choice - a place employees will want to stay, developing leaders, and strategizing revenue growth. Improving financial stability strengthens the human capital of the organization. Employees can buy into the long-term: making technology systems improvements, building community partnerships and maintaining the facility well.
Here are a few questions to help determine a nonprofit's financial stability:
- Is this organization financially stable?
- Do the employees have faith that the Executive Director and Board are managing the finances effectively?
- What changes could improve the financials?
2. Encourage the nonprofit leader toward program strategies that maximize impact.
Nonprofits measure their success through regular evaluations. Evaluations provide data points that help the organization improve practices, plan for the future, and make necessary changes. There are 5 objectives of an evaluation system:
- Gather information to systematically enhance the program
- Ensure accountability at the programs-level
- Monitor progress toward the goals of the nonprofit
- Communicate internally to the Board
- Communicate externally to future funders and the community at large.
The evaluation process is designed to be quite robust, but many times it becomes an item buried on a check list. Encouraging leadership to maintain focus and continually assess return on investment and program impact will lead to a better organization and a better community.
Questions to help nonprofits identify strategies to maximize impact:
- How does the current year’s performance compare to the benchmark?
- Could changing the current delivery model improve service or communication?
- What is the most effective program the nonprofit offers? The least?
- Is the program answering the problem that it was created to solve?
3. Encourage a “fail fast” mentality within the organization.
Encourage the Executive Director to be willing and able to change what the organization does and how it does it. Data and information is only as good as the analysis of the decision-maker looking at it.
Flexibility, lean thinking, and agile methodology at the head of the organization will cascade throughout the team, spurring creativity and the willingness to innovate. Introducing startup go-to resources like TED talks, Fast Company magazine, Harvard Business Review, along with encouragement from a seasoned business leader can positively challenge and transform the status quo.
Questions for nonprofits to develop a “fail fast” mentality:
- Do the core values of the organization reflect a culture of trust and flexibility?
- Does the Director prioritize questioning the status quo?
- When was the last innovative change made?
- What can nonprofits learn from businesses?
Too many nonprofits need help and have burning questions but no community or mentor to process them with. Meanwhile, business advisors have answers but are often lacking beneficiaries of their knowledge and expertise.
These are only a few ways local leaders can serve their communities by becoming professional business advisors.
I am the Program Manager for For the City Ventures. Professionally, I've worked in management consulting, tech, and e-commerce. I earned an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin, and a double major in History and Political Science from Hillsdale College. I live in Austin with my husband and three kids. On the weekends, you can find us doing home improvements or soaking up all the fun that Austin has to offer.