Living and Giving

Five Things a Nonprofit Needs

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A recent discussion on LinkedIn asked people to talk about what they felt were the five most important things for a nonprofit organization to have.  I wanted to share my list with you.

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1) Strong Vision: It’s important for a nonprofit to have a clear vision. The team deserves to have a strong sense of the company’s purpose and direction. This vision keeps people on target. You will also feel supported as CEO with an aligned, inspired team.

Our vision at UniversalGiving is to “Create a World Where Giving and Volunteering Are a Natural Part of Everyday Life.”™ We want people to think about giving and volunteering, just as they would pay to text on their cellphone. We want it to be \’the of course!\” in their life, natural and inspired. We hope everything we do at UniversalGiving drives back to that vision.

2) Clear Operations: Divide your nonprofit into business units. Each Business Unit has a clear plan of action with supporting tactical information on how to execute. Our Business Units at UniversalGiving include Marketing, Development, Corporate Services, NGO Services, Engineering, and Operations. People feel focused and educated; they can see their work is producing results in a certain area.

3) Specific and Personal Products: Try to send messages and create products which are personal and meaningful to people. Integrate what you can offer into their daily lives.

For example, at UniversalGiving we do this by watching how people give. Recession or not, people aren\’t going to stop giving a gift to their loved one. So they might not buy a $100 sweater, but they still want to give a meaningful gift. So we created Gift Packages, which allow people to give to a good cause on behalf of a loved one. For example, they could give $50 towards seeds for Haitian farmers, or give $30 to save a child’s eye sight.

4) Culture: Try to establish a Great Culture. You have to \”be\” it. Live it, hone it, relive it, communicate it, and live it again each day.

For example, we try to honor people in several ways, not simply through \”formal events\” or recognition. We try to emphasize respect and appreciation every day. One small example is in our team meetings: Every week a different person leads the meeting and that person is invited to share something about their life outside of UniversalGiving. We understand people have multiple interests, and we want to honor the person from a holistic view.

Another way to respond to the team is to create work situations that serve the organization’s needs and the individual’s strengths. We customize our agreements, as some people work part-time or full-time; some are volunteers; some are consultants, interns, and paid interns.

5) Revenue: Try, where you can, to value and monetize some aspect of your service. What you are doing is extremely valuable to the world. It should be recognized, and ideally support the other free services you are offering. At UniversalGiving, our web-based marketplace of giving and volunteering opportunities is provided free to the public. 100% of donations go directly to the cause. Our goal is to lower the barriers to giving.

Our second service is UniversalGiving Corporate, customizing our services for companies to help them manage their global Corporate Social Responsibility programs. UniversalGiving\’s Quality Model provides independent NGO vetting services to provide corporate global security.

I hope these are some helpful tips for nonprofits or forprofits. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!