I have spent my entire professional career in the nonprofit sector, doing work that I have found intellectually and personally rewarding. All of my positions have involved some mix of fundraising, communications, marketing, or organizational development, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about the things that we do, and finding ways to explain to others how nonprofit organizations operate similarly to for-profit businesses.
Nonprofits employ people, nonprofits buy goods and services from for-profits, and nonprofits are an important economic engine of the United States economy. In fact, if the global nonprofit sector were a country, it would have the sixteenth largest economy in the world. In 2012, the nonprofit sector contributed $878 billion to the U.S. economy, or about 5.4 percent of our nation’s GDP. Additionally, the nonprofit sector is the 3rd largest employer with nearly 11 million paid employees. Even more, it is one of the few areas of the U.S. economy adding jobs at a rate of nearly 2% per year.
Obviously, the nonprofit sector is a force to be reckoned with in so many areas. However, economic impact pales in comparison to the enormous impact the combined mission outcomes have on our community. In Georgia, the nonprofit sector is quite large and diverse, representing interests ranging from health care, education, the arts, and business associations to civic groups focused on some of our community’s most critical issues.
Strong, effective nonprofit organizations have adopted many best practices from business. We know that good management and strategically deployed resources help us gain market respect, donor confidence, and public support. But the attention rarely goes in the opposite direction. All too frequently for-profit companies just do not see what nonprofits do as relevant to sound business practices, let alone making a profit. Frankly, the fact that so many nonprofits have been able to respond to significant increases in demand for service without going over the financial cliff is testament to some pretty remarkable business skills.
Yet, in a world of fast-diminishing customer and employee loyalty, for-profits can learn substantial lessons from nonprofits in three areas: cultivating passionate employees; keeping clients and customers engaged and loyal, and identifying and serving a compelling mission that emphasizes a higher purpose.
Great organizations have tremendous business execution in part because they have strong core values. The “essence” of what lies at the crux of our continued success here at Annandale Village are the seven core values that serve as our guiding principles taken to heart by each member of our Board of Directors, professional staff and volunteer leadership.
- Individuals with intellectual disabilities and traumatic brain injuries come first in everything we do.
- Commitment to excellence and professionalism are key tenets at all levels of our organization.
- We are one team with one vision and one mission working together.
- Collaboration and partnership within our organization, and with others who share our vision and values, are keys to our sustained success.
- Integrity, honesty and ethical behavior guide all our endeavors.
- Diversity of ideas, cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds strengthen our efforts.
- Financial strength enables us to accomplish our goals.
Core values are designed to capture “how you show up, how you serve, and how you promote who you are as an organization.” If you are able to infuse your core values into the many layers of your business and its operations, the organization’s capacity to fulfill its fundamental purpose is considerably greater.
Article authored by Keith Fenton, Chief Development Officer of Annandale Village
Original article,The Executive Magazine was published 09/28/2015 in The Executive Magazine of the Gwinnett Chamber