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5 Qualities of an Effective Nonprofit

Updated: Jul 9



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Starting and maintaining a nonprofit organization can be hard. It requires a collective effort from founders, board members, staff, volunteers and donors. 


Whether you are looking to start or develop your nonprofit or you are a potential donor looking to support a cause, look for these 5 qualities to identify the effectiveness of the organization.



1. Clear Mission & Purpose

The effectiveness of a nonprofit roots from what it desires to accomplish and how well it articulates its purpose into a mission statement. It’s mission and vision should be compelling enough to resonate with all the nonprofits’ stakeholders.Strive to make your nonprofit one with a mission-driven culture. Shared goals is what will ultimately drive the nonprofit to success as everyone will be working towards their fulfillment. 


2. Ability to Perform Key Functions

As much as a mission and purpose is key to succeed, you must also look at your key functions and a concrete action plan to bring your mission to life and ultimately make a difference. In addition, determine a way to track your impact and measure your success, such as key performance indicators, organizational performance reviews and balance score cards. You must also determine what kind of skill sets you need to support your organization and also secure resources for the future. The nonprofit world is ever-changing, therefore you must be constantly thinking about constantly adapting strategies to fulfill your mission. 


3. Strong Practices, Procedures & Policies 

Effective nonprofits have well-structured governance, financial and organizational systems. The governance of an effective nonprofit is usually one with bylaws, limits, regular evaluations and the ability to be flexible with change. Strong nonprofits are also characterized by the structure of all parts of the organization including financial systems that work to provide security for future endeavors. 


4. Good People

This item ties back to all our other characteristics as a nonprofit is made by the collective efforts of all its stakeholders. This means particularly that an effective nonprofit has a well-versed staff who not only possess all the key skills to carry out the functions of the organization, but who share the same drive of the organization’s mission statement. It is important that your people work in your organization because they are passionate about it, only then will they go above and beyond their regular job tasks and seek the ultimate success and fulfillment of your mission. Furthermore, your staff should also feel appreciated and well-compensated for their hard work. Nothing will fuel their passion more, than feeling like their efforts are being well recognized. 


5. Ability to Mobilize Others 

Your nonprofits effectiveness will also be characterized by its ability to inspire others and mobilize them to help you accomplish your mission and goals. They provide opportunities for people to engage in the action plan whether they are staff, volunteers, donors or just active members of society. An effective nonprofit will also be able to inspire and mobilize others by leading by example and sharing their goals and future accomplishments. 


These are only 5 key characteristics of effectiveness in a nonprofit, of course there is more complexity that comes within each item above mentioned. 

If you want to learn more about this topic listen to CoLab’s board member, Kevin Welch expand more on these items. 



Additional Resources

10 Characteristics of High Performing Nonprofit Organizations


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