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The 6 Characteristics of a Well-Run Nonprofit

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If you are either a nonprofit executive or a fundraiser, you should read each and every book and blog post written by Jeff Brooks. His book The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand is particularly indispensable.

Much more than a tantalizing appetizer on branding, the book delves into the main course by exploring all aspects of the subject.

What prompted this post however, was a truly delightful dessert found near the end of the book. In this section I found a single chapter, which has stuck squarely in my mind since then. As you might guess, the title of this blog post was derived from this chapter.

The Structure of a Donor-Focused Nonprofit

The essence of the title literally captures the difference I so often see in truly successful nonprofits and those who seem to just hang around. Here are some of the attribute and/or facts that jump out when you talk to or visit these highly successful “donor focused” nonprofits:

  • Longevity of leadership
  • Longevity of staff and volunteers
  • Passion oozing out at every turn
  • Polished practices and procedures
  • Extraordinary lifetime value of donors
  • A well funded mission
  • Investment in the future

Would you not just love to be part of any organization being described by the above phrases?

My Favorite List

Within this chapter was a simple list of six characteristics of a well-run nonprofit that can only be described as magical. To do anything other than a pure cut and paste below would be a crime:

  1. Aligned around fundraising goals
  2. Not run by committees
  3. No marketing department
  4. Plan for every donor
  5. Good data
  6. Donor connected

I will conclude with Jeff’s further explanation provided by his takeaways of these characteristics. Obviously, you will want and need more, which is easily accomplished by reading the book.

Takeaways for Nonprofit Brand Builders

  • Is aligned around fundraising goals. Everyone is responsible for success in fundraising.
  • Is not run by committees. People work in their areas of expertise.
  • Has no marketing department. But lots of marketing!
  • Has a plan for every donor. No matter what life stage or giving level.
  • Has its data act together.
  • Is donor connected. Everyone has some contact with donors.

Kudos to Jeff for bringing his experiences and wisdom to life and in a publication that is easily shared by both the young and the old in this marvelous world of fundraising! You can read a full excerpt from his book here.

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