Success Pointers from the Non-Profit World

Non-profits often have the challenge we explored last week: constraints.

Constraints include lower budgets, impact of economic downturns on funding and volunteer efforts, and cycles driven by major programs. For these reasons, they come up with creative ways to maintain success and engagement.

Even if you don’t lead in a non-profit, many of their ideas convert well to the private sector.

Here are low-cost ways to improve your organization from Mary Sellers of United Way of Central Iowa:

  • Ensure that culture is a part of everything. Make sure that on-boarding, reviews, meetings, recognition, decor, and everything ooze the culture.
  • Twice per year, have lunch with your direct reports’ direct reports — no agenda, just an opportunity to connect informally.
  • Host all-staff lunch-and-learns for walking through annual plans, budgets, and year-end financials and as a way to learn about what is going on in the community.
  • Shadow a business in a different industry to learn about different models that may inform your work.
  • Create internal shadowing opportunities across departments for staff to learn about other people’s roles and contributions.
  • Create transparency of the “why” when difficult decisions have to be made. This is more common in non-profits, but for-profits can learn from the engagement that results.

The Des Moines Business Record held an event called “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” and that is where I heard Mary share these ideas.

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