Inefficiency leads to the largest waste of resources for any nonprofit organization. Every penny needs to be utilized efficiently and an organization that is unorganized can lead to poor margins and resource management. Proper time management, use of resources and decisive leadership can all bolster a nonprofit, maximizing cash flow and an organization’s overall well-being.
Big or small, nonprofits often have limited resources that require thoughtful strategy in order to be used to their ultimate potential. This is especially true for our team at Camp Corral. As a small team, we’ve had to learn how to best maximize our efficiency and productivity to achieve our full work potential.
1. Clearly define roles.
Each team member should have distinguished roles, no matter the size of your team. When every member understands their role, there is little room for confusion of responsibilities and a lesser chance that two team members will work on the same task or project unnecessarily. At Camp Corral, we all have defined roles, tasks and goals, but we’ve also learned to combine our knowledge and skill sets to maximize our collective knowledge and achieve the best possible results.
2. Be a leader.
A strong and decisive leader can vastly improve efficiency and instill confidence. When a leader is confident and assured in their work, it’s often contagious and will trickle down to other team members, improving their work quality and increasing their drive. If you’re not sure what your specific leadership style is, last year I broke down the six different leadership styles and when they’re best utilized. In truth, the best leader is one who knows how to use a mix of styles.
3. Streamline processes.
Wasted time equals wasted resources for nonprofits. Create a system that utilizes proper checkpoints, but also keeps projects moving fluidly. Make sure that it lends itself not only to your organization’s goals, but also to the capabilities and nature of your team. For small organizations with small teams, like Camp Corral, there are often gaps between the talent and skills of team members and the total scope of work an organization requires.
Outsourcing these needs allows you to work with experts in their own field so you can focus more on internal operations that directly impact the mission of the organization. By outsourcing our accounting, payroll, human resources and public relations we can get high quality results at Camp Corral without taking on the expenses of another staff member.
5. Define the big picture.
Whether your team is small, like Camp Corral’s, or larger, defining short and long-term goals and establishing a clear picture for all involved is key. It provides clear direction and cuts down on confusion.
6. Measure the information that matters.
One of the more common inefficiencies for an organization with a limited budget is wasting valuable time and resources measuring information that has no direct purpose. Data can be an organization’s strongest tool, but only if it lends itself to an organization’s goals and credibility. Useful data can include studies that support the need for your organization, data that displays the impact your organization makes and data that can help you better target your fundraising efforts.
7. Optimize fundraising.
Innovations in technology have made wide-scale outreach much easier, but has also congested the market. Take the time to establish your target market and research the best ways to reach them. Even if you’re casting a smaller net, if you’re targeting a select and crucial audience, you’ll have more success than if you’d cast a wide and unfocused net, instead.
8. Look to the future.
In order to survive in the competitive nonprofit market, organizations need to be flexible and adapt easily to new strategies and technology. The best way to do so is to always keep an eye to the future. Understand long-term goals for the organization and keep an eye on trends that may influence these aspirations. At Camp Corral, we work off of a three-year strategic plan to help us stay in the now, but also understand what lies ahead and how we plan to get there. It’s much easier to remain successful if you continuously plan, strategize and analyze opportunities.
At the end of the day, running an efficient nonprofit comes down to careful thought, planning and execution. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach as the specific tactics we use at Camp Corral may not all work as effectively for your organization. Take the time to find a mix of strategies and tools that work best for you and your organization and implement them into your everyday routine.