Now More Than Ever, Non Profit Organizations Need A Competitive Advantage.
By Winslow Swart
Across America, non profit organizations are experiencing serious budget constraints due to a major drop in charitable contributions. When asked, fundraisers will answer with the “e” word, “it’s the economy.”
Interestingly, there are a few economic indicators worthy of attention affecting non profit organizations: 1) currently, executive pay is on the increase – in some areas by as much as 30% or more, 2) many large corporations are posting record profits and sitting on unprecedented amounts of cash, 3) the last winning presidential campaign raised a record level of individual contributions at a time when personal income and jobs were in their steepest decline. Evidently, the resources are out there, it is a matter of creating the vehicle and a direction for those resources that provides value through increased levels of passion and purpose.
While there is no question that there are serious economic challenges, and the forecasts are uncertain, drastic circumstances call for innovation, creativity, and re-invention. What Ed Whitacre has done for GM in the past 2 years is the spirit within which every organization might view itself. GM’s outlook was disastrous prior to a significant shift in philosophy, and now is posting record profits. The private sector seeks competitive advantages in order to survive and succeed, many of these lessons adapt well to not-for-profit organizations (non profit organizations).
Another great example is World Famous Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle. Here a motley bunch of retail fish mongers transformed themselves through the shared commitment to creating a “world famous” experience for everyone with whom they would come into contact. Pike’s Place Fish has since ignited service culture and team excellence for major organizations around the globe. They also happened to have gone from struggling to hugely successful as a result of their self-motivated turn-around.
The Lighthouse for the Blind in San Antonio, Texas, a 501c3 (non profit organization), is a learning and work-transition facility that has transformed itself into a cash-flow positive manufacturer and retailer. Instead of trying to survive chiefly on donations, they changed the game without abandoning their core purpose as a career development center for the blind and visually impaired. It is also the only company ever to be awarded one of the “best places to work” by Texas Monthly Magazine, the San Antonio Express-News and the Business Journal in the same year. Their overarching culture is based on “ensuring everyone looks forward to coming to work,” says Mike Gilliam, their CEO.
A small grocery store chain calculated that it cost them over 1 million dollars in annual sales per year to lose only 2 customers per week due to poor service. What are the implications for your organization? What happens when programs and events no longer resonate, no longer inspire or are simply redundant? How does a small, non profit organization re-invent itself, especially in times of stretched and strained resources?
In an effort to become more economically resilient while creating higher-impact service for stakeholders, members, and the community:
Seek out examples of world-class organizations that are changing the game for everyone. Look deeply at how and why their visions are succeeding.
Conduct well-designed team-building and brainstorming sessions focused on “changing the game” and raising the bar with unprecedented community impact.
Invigorate boards and committees with new blood. Talk about the kind of connectors, visionaries and talents you need to help steer and guide success – and recruit them.
Challenge the status quo at every-turn. Don’t be distracted by the way things have always been done.
While in the process of engineering change, embrace the legacy of the organization’s past without being limited by old habits.
Have a plan for implementation that generates “small-wins” and track your success.
Reward winning behaviors, not just results. It may take a little while to move the needle.
Creating a world-class, internal culture of service builds greater loyalty and affinity amongst employees and members. Changing the world starts at the office.
There is no limit to what a small group of creative, empowered, motivated people can do once their potential and energy is harnessed and unleashed.
See Below for Helpful Links:
Leadership Training in Higher Demand as Businesses Regain Focus
Building Teams that Work – By Winslow Swart – Team Building
Now More Than Even Non Profits Need A Competitive Advantage
Strategic Planning is Everyone’s Business – Business News San Antonio
Ask the Experts Blog
Commercial Real Estate San Antonio
Now More Than Ever, Non Profit Organizations Need A Competitive Advantage