5 Things You Should Know About Non-Profit Leadership

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Whether you have been working in the non-profit sector for years and are striving to obtain a leadership position or you are thinking about making the transition to non-profit, you may wonder what it’s like to lead a non-profit organization. Here are five vital elements of non-profit leadership:

  • Publicity
  • Fundraising
  • Passion
  • Persistence
  • Time

Publicity Is Vital

Andrew Yang, founder of the non-profit company Venture for America, wrote an article about some of the key differences between running a non-profit organization versus running a for-profit company.

Yang noted the importance of soliciting positive attention for a non-profit organization. With for-profit companies, press coverage doesn’t always equate to greater income. However, with non-profits, it’s more important to let the public know and experience the organization’s story. Spreading the word about a good cause can motivate people to donate their time and resources.

Focus on Fundraising

Image via Flickr by HowardLake

According to the Bridgespan Group, there are a number of funding models for non-profit organizations. Funding may come from government agencies, corporate organizations, the general public, or other sources.

Regardless of where the money comes from, however, there is always the need to convince donors of an organization’s worth. Andrew Yang, mentioned earlier, compares fundraising for a non-profit to giving away cookies. If you want to get the money necessary to keep baking the cookies, you have to convince people, some of whom have never eaten the cookies that your organization is worth donating to.

A sound education comes in handy for these leadership positions. Learning about fundraising is a key component of non-profit leadership education programs, and a non-profit education can help when tasked with convincing people to donate to your cause.

Passion Is Important

Passion is impossible to quantify, and you may be able to secure a job at a non-profit organization without caring deeply about the organization’s cause. However, the Moran Company listed “Passion for the organization’s mission” as one of the attributes of great non-profit leaders.

Passion in the workplace may inspire others to work harder for the non-profit’s cause. That passion may also help to attract donors to your organization.

Persistence Is Key

The Moran Company also lists persistence as an attribute of non-profit leaders, saying that such leaders “do not let obstacles stand in their way and can persevere through difficult times for the organization.”

John Hope Bryant, a business leadership author, wrote for the Huffington Post, “Most everyone’s hero to leadership principles seems to be Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., but most do not realize that he was also one of the most persistent people you would ever encounter in life.”

Committing Your Time

Writing for U.S. News, Alison Green lists some myths about non-profit work. One myth is that non-profits are always laid-back and do not have the same rigorous standards as for-profit businesses. In reality, non-profits often require as much hard work as for-profit businesses.

Non-profit leadership and for-profit leadership have some things in common, but there are also notable differences. When you take on a non-profit leadership position, be prepared for a challenging and rewarding experience.