Praxis Connection Review is an online journal that highlights collaboration, innovation, and impact through churches in NYC.
Book Recommendation: Nonprofit Management & Leadership
Starting or running a mission-focused nonprofit ministry is challenging. Over the years I have made my share of mistakes in doing so. Over the years I’ve found that it’s important to have a mission that is rooted in a strong theory of change that can be measured and managed in such a way that stakeholders know the mission’s impact, and the team always works to improve the impact they are having. Everything should be aligned around accomplishing the mission whose theory of change guides it as it develops its strategy for impact. Marketing is all secondary. In fact, sometimes marketing, social media, and creating buzz can cloud what, if any, impact is really happening.
Every ministry and nonprofit needs funding to accomplish its mission. I have found that the following five things influence a donor to support a ministry more than anything else. Each donor will weight these items differently:
Mission: Do they like the mission? Donors have many different priorities. Some support youth ministry, others the environment.
Leadership: It matters. Who is the leader? Do they inspire confidence? Do they have the skills? Are they passionate about the mission? Being an Executive Director is a tough job.
Impact: Does the ministry or organization do what they say they do? Do they measure outcomes? Or just outputs? Does what they measure align to their mission & theory of change? Or is it all marketing? Or fake news?
Board: As a ministry or organization grows donors will look more closely at the board and governance. Any operation trying to break the 500k threshold will need to focus on these issues. Any operation over 500k will need a board policy manual and other policies & procedures if it wishes to grow. Who is on the board, their skills, and engagement is more important than ever before.
Financial Management & Reporting: “How do they manage their resources? Can they provide a financial report? Do they have policies & procedures? This is where a good board comes in handy. Audits, accounting, and other reporting all are very important. Thankfully payroll, HR, and bookkeeping services like Justworks have made everything much easier and less expensive than ever.
There are some great books out there that I would highly recommend. They touch on some of the things outlined above. While Guy Kawasaki’s book is not focused on nonprofits I think it’s the best book out there on starting something up. Peter Drucker’s classic is still as good today as when it was first published. System Thinking for NonProfits and NonProfit Sustainability are incredible books. I wish I had both when I got started. I hope that you find these books helpful!