How your business can benefit by adopting some not-for profit strategies

Taking lessons from a not-for-profit business when yours is decidedly about making profit, and hopefully lots of it, may sound counter-intuitive. But in a marketplace where the number of not-for-profit companies is growing -- along with the competition for those not-for-profit dollars -- there’s something to be learned from a business that can potentially raise millions of dollars without selling anything.

Ok, that may be a simplification. But the reality is, not-for-profits are becoming experts at raising big bucks under challenging circumstances. And how they do this holds takeaways all businesses can benefit from. Here are a few:

Do more with less. This one is a no-brainer. Every business benefits from saving money, whether it’s stretching your office supplies budget or making sure you get the best deal on your building maintenance. Most smaller not-for-profits also run with a skeleton crew, aiming to direct their earnings towards their goal rather than their operations. That means the employees they do have need the skills that allow them to wear many hats. So:

Choose the right team. Many not-for-profits don’t have the luxury of hiring only specialists to work for their organization. With limited resources for paid staff, it’s often “all-hands on deck”, and those hands need to be capable of doing whatever needs doing. Choosing quality – meaning employees with diverse skill sets – over quantity, means you can achieve more with less. An added benefit: you’ll find yourself with a tight team that collaborates and complements, creating efficiencies and good harmonies within your organization.

Doing more with less also means making sure you get the most bang for your buck out of your strategies. So:

Plan ahead. For example, when your company is planning a presentation, a marketing campaign or a social media campaign, think about future uses and how you can repurpose your creative. Knowing that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – maybe just dust it off and add tassels – can give a second life to what may have already been a good campaign and save you money.

Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate ! And that means everyone. Not-for-profits don’t take anything for granted, including their customers, partners, donors, employees and volunteers. Thank yous are important, and personal, hand-written notes are not out of style. Not-for-profits also regularly contact their supports to show their appreciation. Everyone likes to be appreciated, so a little recognition can go a long way.

Keep your eye on the prize. It’s too easy for small businesses and their employees to get caught up in day-to-day operations and forget about their vision. Many only revisit their goals once or twice a year. Not-for-profits, however, remain laser focused on their mission. They have to be. It’s their reason for being. Knowing what your company stands for – and keeping that front and centre – will help your business move ever closer to achieving its goals.

Dream big. One thing most not-for-profits have in common is a goal that seems beyond the realms of achieving. Finding a cure for cancer. Ending homelessness. Preventing violence against women. Lofty ideals for sure, but where would we be if nobody tried?

Not-for-profits continue to move closer to reaching their goals, no matter how slow the journey. Patience, vision, and believing in your mission are all big lessons any small business can learn from a not-for-profit.


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