I talk to a lot of nonprofit professionals throughout my day. All of them care deeply about what they do and all of them want to be really good at what they’re doing. Here are three things every nonprofit professional can do to be more effective.
- Figure out who your competitors are and be able to articulate why you are better (and know where you need improvement). I am always surprised when I hear a nonprofit say that no one else does what they do. You need to know who is in your space and be able to articulate how your programs are different and more effective.
- Connect with your competitors. Now that you know who they are, go talk to them. When you see them, say hello. There’s nothing that says you can’t talk to each other. You might actually find that your missions are complementary in some way and that you can work together. This is especially true on advocacy issues. Legislators want to see a large number of people pushing up against whatever issue you’re talking about. If you each go in with your own agenda, it dilutes the efforts of all of the agencies. And the people you’re trying to help aren’t getting what they need.
- Now that you’ve gotten to know each other: Collaborate. Figure out what you can do together to solve the problem you’re both trying to solve. You don’t need to share your donors or jeopardize your funding. In fact, many funders like when you work together. Chances are, you’re separate organizations because you have a different way of approaching a similar problem. Those approaches could both be valid: agree to disagree and be stronger for it.