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The Nonprofit Strategist

Posts in Nonprofit Innovation
So You Founded a Nonprofit. Here's a Quick Way to Assess Your Progress

“If tech founders had to do what nonprofit founders do to get startup funding, we wouldn’t HAVE a tech industry in this country.”

Nonprofit founders have it tough, no doubt about it. But as a founder, do you know where your organization stands on its path to sustainability? More to the point, do you know what you need to get there?  It’s about money, yes. But it’s surely more than that, right?

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Why the Nonprofit Sector Needs More Accelerator Programs

We frequently talk with founders of tech and nonprofit startups, and we see a lot of similarities. Both nonprofit and tech founders are entrepreneurial, passionate about their ideas and face countless challenges ranging from the strategic to the tactical and mundane--any of which can rise up to bite the founder in the behind.  Interestingly, the management literature* largely confirms our observations.

You might ask, what’s the biggest challenge facing nonprofit entrepreneurs?  Money, money, MONEY! That’s right, it’s a lack of access to capital. No surprise, but we’re here to say and the literature confirms it:

Nonprofit founders face more challenges in raising capital than their tech founder brethren.  

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FMS Interviews: Operation Code’s Executive Director Talks About Nonprofit Innovation

It’s fair to say that almost every nonprofit professional I’ve ever met has a passionate interest in doing better, or in a word: innovating. At the same time, innovation is often elusive, especially in under-capitalized smaller nonprofits, but also in larger institutions that have a way of stifling initiative.

We do know innovation when we see it, though, so that’s why we recently spoke with Conrad Hollomon, Executive Director at Operation Code, a truly innovative nonprofit run by veterans that helps veterans and military spouses break into the tech industry.

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Get Your "Nonprofit Judo" On

Nonprofit leaders should make greater use of what Kevin Barenblat calls "nonprofit judo." 

Writing in a recent Harvard Business Review piece, Barentblat recognizes that nonprofits are typically focused on providing services in situations where markets either don't work or aren't working. The best, he says, successfully leverage what would be a weakness in a for-profit context to their competitive advantage. Nonprofit judo, in other words. 

Nonprofit leaders worth their salt know this…

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Four Tips for Putting Your Creativity to Work

We hear a lot about innovation these days. Tech is obsessed with disruption, sometimes to the great benefit of the masses, and sometimes without enough thought to “to what end” and “for whom--and who gets left behind?”. Foundations want to fund innovative ideas (but not without proof, and not with too much risk). Nonprofits that want to stand out and be able to compete for funding may be eager to position their programs as innovative. And some of us are left scratching our heads, wondering what all the fuss is about--our work is already great, after all--and how does one innovate, anyway?

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Five Things I Don't Like About Lists, And What I Intend To Do About It

Tired of articles and blog posts listing a bunch of things you should do to improve on how you run your nonprofit? Or your life for that matter?

I am. Here’s why.

  1. They’re often irrelevant because they don’t have anything to do with you or your nonprofit.

  2. The folks writing up these lists don’t always have much to say. No offense, but they’re desperate to produce content, and sometimes they’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel…

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