3 Tips for Successfully Growing Your Non-Profit Organization

Trying to get media attention and raise funds to grow your non-profit organization can seem like an impossible task. Growing your non-profit organization is a serious challenge, but it can be met. The way some of the largest, best-known non-profits that have emerged in the past ten to twenty grew gives valuable insight into three main tips. Stanford Social Innovation Review studied more than 110 different non-profit organizations to learn which paths worked best for organizations that grew successfully, including household names like Habitat for Humanity and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Tip 1: Develop a Concentrated Funding Source

Non-profit start-ups and small organizations can easily think it’s smart to get as many diverse funding sources as possible. The Stanford Social Innovation Study found out that the successful non-profit organizations followed a different path to growth. Over 90% of the largest non-profit organizations concentrated on one type of funding. They didn’t turn other contributions away, but their primary funds came from one type of source. For example, an after-school program primarily received government funding, while an organization like Make-A-Wish primarily gets individual donations and special event funding.

Tip 2: Find a Natural Funding Match

Most successful non-profit organizations can point to a founding donor or a group of donors who’ve financed early stages. A “natural funding match” builds upon this concept. The funding match might not be an individual donor or a corporate sponsore. It could be a government grant program or a special event in your area, like a golf tournament, that is a perfect match for your non-profits program and services. You may never have heard of the Wild Turkey Federation, but with 250,000 members and chapters in every state and region, its natural funding match turned out to be hunting and outdoors enthusiasts.

Tip 3: Build a Professional Organization and Structure

Growing your non-profit won’t mean much if you can’t sustain it. The American Kidney Fund serves people with kidney disease, especially those with lower incomes. The organization developed a professional way to link corporations to paying for dialysis and other treatments for kidney patients, more than tripling its revenue and services in four years. They developed a structure to serve corporate sponsors and kidney patients at the same time.

These three tips closely match the for-profit concept of growing by serving the customer. Nonprofit Quarterly reports that donors expect a return on their donation investment, measured in outcomes. Sometimes it’s easier to see that a grant program is paying for specific services and outcomes, but a fundraising event, like a golf tournament, also has expectations from its charitable partner. Focus on specific funding sources, find your natural donor match, and develop a professional structure to grow your non-profit.

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