Organizations that build robust infrastructure—which includes sturdy information technology systems, financial systems, skills training, fundraising processes, and other essential overhead—are more likely to succeed than those that do not.
The nonprofit sector is notorious to a scarcity mindset. A scarcity mindset is the belief that there will never be enough, resulting in feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety. On the other hand, an abundance mindset flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It's grounded in the belief that there is more than enough for everyone.
Too many organizations are delivering their mission-driven goals with a skeleton staff, not enough capital resources, and the mindset that spending money on anything other than program delivery is unacceptable.
First off, let’s look at what we call these organizations that I am referring to: NON-PROFITS. the Latin word non which means “not.” Therefore, focusing on the lack of profit, or abundance, in our sector. However, many professionals are changing the language and using social profit. Which, in my opinion subconsciously changes our focus and better allows for the abundance mindset.
Recently, I posted the header image of this article on my instagram account stating that 501c3, 501c6, and others are NOT a business model. It’s a tax status.
Throughout my 20+ years of consulting in the sector, I enjoy asking this question of nonprofit leaders that I work with early in our engagement:
If money wasn’t an issue, what would you ask for?
Here’s a recent list that I compiled from previous clients: New office chairs, a bigger storage unit, a van to help us make deliveries, a new coffee pot for our break room. <CRINGE>
To me, when I heard these answers, I thought that all of these answers were barely scratching the surface and are very short sighted.
Another nonprofit executive told me that he didn’t want to spend money on direct mail solicitations [or any other fundraising initiatives]. Simply put, he wanted any extra money to go towards the “kids”. Therefore, not appreciating the value of investment for future sustainability to continue helping these kids.
This is a very common statement that I have heard throughout my 20+ year career. In fact, financial investment is the number one obstacle that keeps the organization from moving forward.
If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.
Throughout the year, I receive several inquiries about my strategy services and inevitably, every year there are a handful of inquirers that simply don’t see the value on investing in developing strategic elements for their organization.
“We can’t spend those dollars on anything other than our program delivery as this time.”
Really what they are saying is, we are not an organization that sees value in building a sustainable business model for our future that will prepare us for revenue diversification, an evolution of our leaders, and a vast improvement in our cause.
It’s time that the nonprofit sector values the investment of infrastructure and strategic consultations in a way that will improve your overall organization from the ground up.
Infrastructure involves facilities, staff, training, software, auditing, education, consulting and other such business operations. Your organization is an important part of the culture and economy in the United States. Leaders in the industry must begin to value their own importance not only in the world of charity, but in the world of business. Placing value on fairly paying employees, keeping updated equipment and software and maintaining a safe and effective workspace has the potential to change the way an organization operates.
If you were asked the question that I ask my clients, “What would you ask for if money wasn’t an issue?” and your answers mirror the list outlined above, I encourage you to dig deeper. Think bigger. Go bolder!