Top 6 mistakes nonprofits make

May 20th 2020

1. No mission statement or vision

A mission statement defines a nonprofits purpose and cause. A good mission statement communicates what you do, and why you do it, providing the foundation for your nonprofits vision. Your vision communicates your desired end result if your nonprofit was to achieve all it’s goals, guiding your nonprofits actions and decisions down the right path.

Without a mission statement and vision, your nonprofit’s reason for operating is unclear both internally and externally, which makes it difficult to make decisions, gain support from your community, and operate your nonprofit organisation. Take the time as early as possible to plan out your mission statement and vision, focus a lot of time on making sure both are well crafted.

2. Not engaging with their local community

A nonprofit’s local community is typically the most loyal and engaged group supporting their organisation. Ignoring your local community is a huge mistake that will make the success of your nonprofit organisation much more difficult to achieve.

The most important way you can engage with your local community is by being a regular, positive presence. Participate in community discussions, help out at local events, sponsor or support other local groups, and always look for ways to build mutually beneficial relationships or networking opportunities. One related mistake is only engaging with your local community when you need something, small towns especially will notice if you try to take more often than you give.

3. Avoiding technology

A lot of nonprofits are stuck in the 90’s handling everything manually with little to none software and a lot of paper. This can be because they have the impression that using technology is something they cannot afford, but in reality a lot of nonprofit organisations could save money by leveraging digital technology.

By going paperless, nonprofits can save money spent on paper, printing, storage, and other office expenses. Going paperless can also save your nonprofit time and increase productivity by making it easy to securely access your documents from anywhere, collaborate with your team, and quickly find what you’re looking for. A paperless workflow also adds opportunities for automation, as well as simplifying the way you capture or collect data using a data collection app like Locale Central to replace your paper forms.

4. Not keeping on top of their tax and legal obligations

Failing to meet your tax and legal obligations is a quick way to go bust, and yet a lot of nonprofits fail to keep up with changes to regulations, policies, and other important obligations. Join industry associations or local nonprofit groups to help you keep in the loop with changes to your obligations, and make sure to be on any mailing lists that directly report these changes.

5. Failing to show social responsibility

People love scandals, and a lot of nonprofits have been caught up in scandals relating to misuse of donation dollars for some wild things. Nowadays, showing social responsibility is not only crucial for the survival of nonprofit organisations, but also legally required to a degree in some countries. Social responsibility is about showing your actions are for the benefit of society at large, to do that, communicate results with your community and be transparent about where the money goes.

6. Not promoting their brand

It will be difficult for a nonprofit to achieve their vision if nobody knows it exists. Your brand is what differentiates your nonprofit from other organisations, and helps you stand out in the noisy landscape where a variety of groups compete for attention. 

Engage your community through channels like social media, newsletters, a good website, and at local events; regular communication alongside a strong mission statement will help you build your brand effectively. Another effective way to promote your nonprofit’s brand is through storytelling; storytelling tells people who you are, what you do, and why you do it through authentic stories about your work, the people, or inspirations.

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