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How nonprofits need to adopt for-profit practices to compete

Nonprofit organizations can learn a lot from for-profit companies.

Nonprofits worldwide are working to make the planet a better place. Each organization has its own mission, values and strategy. What's more, they continue to learn over time, picking up valuable pieces of knowledge from nonprofit operators in their space. Sometimes, however, it helps these organizations to look outside their normal set of peers. Nonprofits can actually acquire a lot of helpful tips, tricks and advice from for-profit companies. Let's take a look at some of the knowledge they can soak up from straightforward businesses:

Think less about the short term
When founders of nonprofits first begin their ventures, they want to influence change right away. Unfortunately, this is highly uncommon. Leaders may unfairly evaluate their own organization in terms of overhead costs versus overall impact so far. It takes time for not-for-profits to flourish and be able to fulfill their goals more regularly.

Start-up investors don't assume their money will be worth anything from the very beginning. Instead, these financial backers understand the industry and know that it could take years before any profits are made. Nonprofits should take a page from these companies' books: Their mission could take years to come to fruition and that's OK. As long as employees are dedicated to its success for the long term, the organization will make it through the early, more difficult years. Not-for-profits should focus on developing a strategy and vision that will still be relevant after a more lengthy period, according to Catchafire.

A "nonprofit culture" will keep volunteers engaged.

Create a 'company culture'
Businesses often pride themselves on their workplace environment, values, language and customs. They're what makes their company unique, what keeps current employees around and engaged and what attracts valuable candidates over time. A strong culture encourages workers to develop long-lasting relationships, based on similarities – personal, lifestyle, career, etc. Successful businesses understand how to use this public sense of togetherness to their advantage by building a community.

Nonprofits should do the same to keep an engaged workforce of volunteers, according to Impact Hub. Not-for-profits should focus on making the project experience one that enhances the local sense of support between them and their volunteers. Creating a fun, energizing atmosphere can help organizations complete jobs more quickly while also making those who donated their time feel they've given more than just free labor. Retaining valuable volunteers is a two-sided responsibility. First, organizations have to find the right people for the task. Secondly, nonprofits must provide a fulfilling experience.

Develop lasting partnerships
For-profit companies frequently think about scalability – how to help their venture continue to grow in profits and people. Business owners know it's difficult to become successful on their own. They often employ the knowledge and assistance of other organizations for particular aspects of their venture.

Nonprofits should adopt a similar strategy by partnering with more established organizations – either for-profit or not-for-profit. These relationships not only alleviate some of the pressure on these endeavors, but can make a nonprofit more credible to its audience, according to Fast Company. In addition, working with a more well-known company can help build a not-for-profit's reputation, helping it gain volunteers and attract more donors.

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