6 Traits for Nonprofit Leaders

Nonprofit leaders
Nonprofit leaders

Recent surveys and reports have shared that nonprofits are facing a tough road ahead, tackling increasing turnover and decreasing revenue. But what do these challenges mean for nonprofit leaders?

Many nonprofit leaders will agree with the fact that the money just isn’t there anymore. Today you have to compete with more organizations for much less available funding. As nonprofit leaders, we need solutions to that.

Fewer resources and more competition for those shrinking resources is the reality we are facing. But it’s not going to change anytime soon. So it is up to nonprofit leaders to embrace and adapt to that new reality. Instead of beating our heads against the wall of change, let’s adapt to meet it.

In fact, this is the time for all nonprofit leaders; to have the confidence, ability, foresight, energy, and strength of will to really lead the nonprofit sector forward.

Here are the characteristics any nonprofit leader should have:

  1. Move to Impact: a nonprofit leader today should be in position to realize that it is no longer enough to just “do good work.” Nonprofits must create a theory of change and then find a way to measure and articulate the outcomes and impact they hope they are achieving.
  1. Finance the Work: As a nonprofit leader, you should work towards completely integrating money into the mission your nonprofit is trying to achieve, understanding that big plans are not enough, you must also finance them. And beyond just recognizing your lack of infrastructure, you should put together a plan for raising capacity capital and convince donors to start investing in a stronger, more effective organization behind the work.
  1. Refuse to Play Nice: As a leader you have to overcome the nonprofit norm of politeness at all costs and get real with funders, board members, or staff who are standing in the way of the mission and impact of the organization.
  1. Look Outside: You should understand that a nonprofit can no longer exist in a vacuum. You, your board and staff must constantly monitor the external marketplace of changing client needs, demographic and economic trends, funder interests in order make sure your nonprofit continues to create community value.
  1. Get Social: You should embrace the idea of a networked nonprofit and you should be willing and able to open your organization and let the world in as fully engaged partners in the work your nonprofit is doing.
  1. Ask Hard Questions: You should constantly force yourself, and your high-performing team of board, staff, funders and volunteers to ask hard questions in order to make sure you are pushing yourselves harder, making the best use of resources and delivering more results.

As a nonprofit leader you have to be confident, engaged, and savvy.