Key Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining Your Nonprofit Mission
The people we work with are catalysts for change, and we want to see their nonprofits and social enterprises doing the best they can for as long as possible.
But in order to expand their reach and maximize impact, they have to be mindful of how they grow—that is, their scalability and sustainability.
Our team has learned a lot from decades of experience founding and leading nonprofit organizations (some of our learnings have been from making mistakes, owning those mistakes, and iterating on what we’ve learned).
As we share what we’ve learned, we want to zoom in on the five key areas we see as crucial to properly scaling and sustaining the mission of an organization: a healthy and collaborative leadership structure, a clear mission and compelling messaging, professional marketing and design, powerful storytelling, and measurable impact.
Healthy and Collaborative Leadership Structure
Team members who feel valued create value. A traditional, hierarchical leadership structure is a surefire way to stifle a team’s creativity and waste talent. Successful organizations are built on the wisdom and perspectives of all its members—so build a diverse leadership team that reflects the communities your organization serves.
Highlight inclusivity, encourage multiple perspectives, empower your decision-makers, listen, and act on what you learn from others on your team.
Clear Mission and Compelling Messaging
Know your organization’s mission and live it.
It may sound corny, but several years ago, we heard a nonprofit leader ask this question, “Your organization’s mission may be written on the wall, but is it happening down the hall?”
A nonprofit’s messaging must be clear and consistent with its core values. The mission should both unify the team and rally support for the cause. When you can define your mission with all the passion it inspires in you, that energy is contagious.
A compelling message is both a proclamation and a question—“Here’s our mission. How will you help us accomplish it?”
Professional Marketing and Design
Your look sends a message before your words do. What is your brand saying?
A well-designed logo and visual package can do some heavy lifting. You want to communicate that your nonprofit is modern, distinctive, trustworthy, and passionate.
By investing in professional branding, you unlock new avenues of support. A strategic email campaign can reach new donors; a well-designed logo becomes the friendly, recognizable face of the org; a successful social media campaign gets shared with like-minded followers. With the right design, audiences will be moved to share, click, and forward your cause.
Your organization exists to change the direction of the story of people’s lives. Nonprofits interrupt the plot and change the narrative.
Invite readers into those stories. How has your mission transformed lives? Who are the actual individuals who have been impacted by your work? What new heights have they reached? When you carefully craft these stories and connect with audiences on an emotional level, you make your nonprofit’s impact real. More and more people will want to play a role in these stories.
High-quality visual photography and videography are essential to compelling storytelling. Donors want to see the construction progress, meet the eyes of an entrepreneur whose business they have invested in, or hear about the medical care they helped to provide.
The more real the story becomes for the audience—through videos, blog posts, and social media—the more likely they are to engage.
More often than not, your organization’s decisions should be driven by data. Your impact is only as great as you can measure.
What do the numbers say?
Regularly review your metrics—and share them. Nonprofits need systems that foster transparency and trust, and shared data is critical to that mission. When you ask your team members to help you interpret data and make decisions, you become more accountable to your mission and each other. Your numbers allow the team to reflect on progress, refine strategies, and experiment with ideas that can maximize impact.
What we’re talking about here is the health of your mission. Scaling and sustaining your nonprofit really comes down to building strong systems. The organization—and the communities you serve—benefit when you invest in healthy leadership, clear messaging, beautiful design, compelling stories, and data-driven decisions.
We want to help you create a positive and lasting impact on the communities you serve. If you’re ready to take a comprehensive look at the health of your nonprofit, we’re ready to help.
Contact us today for a free 45-minute exploratory call.
Todd & Bill