Remember Your Mission and Put In the Work
In this episode we talk with Katherine Kreuchauf about Lean Nonprofit Startups. What does that mean exactly? We learn that a successful nonprofit requires not only a heart for a cause, but thoughtful action, quick adjustments, and valuable investments. Katherine shares so many wonderful pieces of advice for how to focus on your mission and be successful in making a lasting impact. We cover:
- Should you start a nonprofit?
- The value of pivoting
- What it looks like to be a lean nonprofit
- Picking the right board members
- 5 skills a nonprofit needs
Determine If You Should Start A Nonprofit
Do you see a gap, a need, or something simply not happening as it should be? You want to make things better, but to best do that, you need to do some research first.
Before just jumping right in and starting a non-profit, look around you and see if anyone else is working on making the same positive impact that you are desiring to make.
- If they are, you don’t want to be doing the exact same thing as multiple other organizations. That could result in fighting for attention and resources. Instead, find that similar program and find a way to partner with them. Offer your help to them and make your cause an extension of theirs. You’ll have a greater impact this way. In this scenario, follow some advice from the Girl Scouts: “Leave it better than you found it” (the already founded nonprofit, that is).
- If you’ve done your research and don’t find anyone trying to fill this gap, that’s when you may want to consider starting a nonprofit. It’s a big undertaking and not something to take on lightly, so do your homework and make sure you’re committed to a long-term process.
Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!
Being flexible is HUGE when it comes to creating a lasting, positive impact.
For example, you may have an idea about how to fill a need. Yet until you step out and get opinions of the people in the situation and receive that firsthand information, you can’t know what the root problem really is and uncover what the best case solution could be.
I might think it’s one thing, you might think it’s another, but the person actually impacted could tell you something completely different.
Be Lean: Start Small and Begin Fast
Start quickly by testing a minimum viable product. This means to test a small part of your idea before taking the time and money to build a whole program.
Identify a problem → talk to those it impacts → determine a course of helpful action → begin implementing → review the results → adjust your plan accordingly.
The way your nonprofit ends up delivering the product will be based on the feedback and adjustments made in these moments. So take advantage of failing fast.
Fail fast – why? The benefit looks like this: Put something small out there. If people don’t like it, rework it and put it back out there again.
Don’t fail slowly and waste more time.
Don’t hold tightly to things that aren’t working.
Listen to the market, adjust quickly, and think about how this connects to the importance of pivoting. You don’t want to run out of time, energy, or money, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket and risk draining your resources and motivation. Simply scale up once you find something that’s working.
Build Your Team
Finding the right board members is important. Don’t just fill seats. Find the right people who have a heart for the mission and who are also willing to invest time and finances as well as willing to talk to others about donating.
While you look for those who fit that description, make sure that includes someone with a legal background, financial background, and knowledge about the area you’re attempting to impact.
Lastly, be clear and define the different roles between you as the founder/leader and the board. This will save so much stress later. Trust us!
5 Skills To Be Successful:
- Governance systems – prioritizing your board
- Financial resources/fundraising
- Administrative systems – keep track of donors, provide reports to funders, collect and manage finances, etc.
- Management systems – collecting client info, managing how to grow/change a program, etc.
- Programs – These need the stability of the other 4 competencies in order to grow and thrive
What’s one tip from Kathy that you can begin implementing in your nonprofit this week? I’d love to hear it! Connect with me over on LinkedIn or send me a message. And if you need more support, join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer already and let’s get you moving!
If you enjoyed this episode, you can book a 1:1 strategy session with me at teresahuff.com/mentor. The world needs you out there making a difference!
Meet Katherine Kreuchauf
An award winning professional in philanthropy, Katherine Kreuchauf focuses on supporting nonprofit and foundation leaders and continues her commitment to strengthening nonprofit boards, fundraising, and effective programming. Before forming OnPoint Philanthropic Consulting, she led The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation for 12 years. Prior to that she headed a local United Way for 11 years as well as a health-related nonprofit organization.
Connect with Katherine:
www.onpointphilanthropy.com – Check out the webinar on her Resources page
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- Book: Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability by Jeanne Bell
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