While the global economy is driven by corporations whose main goal is to make a profit for their stockholders, there is also a special place for nonprofit corporations who hold other ideals as priority. Both entity types need a certain structure in place to make sure operations run smoothly; and with nonprofits, while there is a wide range of niches – you may be looking to start a nonprofit organization to help educate children or to spread awareness for a certain medical condition or to help ease poverty in a certain area – you need to know how to implement an effective nonprofit corporate structure. This is to ensure that your organization runs smoothly and focuses on its most important goals.
Successful nonprofit founders know this, and a prime example is Drew Bagot, who started the JDRF Dallas Young Leadership Committee because of his younger brother’s bout with Type 1 diabetes. Bagot’s chapter of the nonprofit quickly soared to new records in fundraising revenue in addition to volunteer involvement, and he attributes this success to being able to implement an effective nonprofit corporate structure.
Here are things you need to know in order to achieve something similar.
3 Basic Elements
Different goals for nonprofits means different details when it comes to the structure, but there are three basic elements that are commonly found in an effective nonprofit corporate structure, especially if you are going to rely on the help of volunteers to achieve your goals.
- Board of Directors. These people are the ones who stand at the helm of the organization and make sure that the goals are fulfilled. Members of the board must include a Chairperson, Vice-Chair, and underlying chairs based on the specific needs of the organization.
- Dedicated Members. Effective nonprofit organizations have a pool of people – members – who contribute to the achievement of goals. They are the ones who drive the growth of the organization, and are also tapped for volunteer work for events and fundraisers.
- Leadership. In order to execute specific tasks – which are aimed at achieving the goals of the organization – dedicated leadership is needed to focus on specific areas. Some chair positions may be provisional, to deal with specific needs that arise, while some are permanent, such as fundraising, marketing, and finance.
With these three basic elements, you can steer and manage your nonprofit to efficiently meet its goals, short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
Does a nonprofit really need this “rigid” structure?
Some structure will benefit nearly any non-profit, because every organization needs strong leadership. By having leadership and other members knowing their roles, you’re exponentially increasing the chance of achieving and maintaining success.
Drew Bagot knows this well, and believes his success was strongly propelled by this structure, and the dedication of everyone in the organization. He shares:
“When I instituted this additional structure to the group, I think the biggest thing it did was help define the roles of the individuals involved with the effort. People immediately took greater ownership over what they were working on, and became more involved. It wasn’t for a lack of caring that many members’ involvement waned over time initially, but rather the lack of role definition that led to confusion, and then apathy. By defining the roles of the individuals more thoroughly, I think people were able to better visualize how they were contributing, and that really went a long way.”
How do you actually build this structure?
The first step is to write down job/role descriptions. It is important that everything is written down and hashed out, so that there is accessible reference any time it is needed. Once the roles are laid out clearly, you then need to identify people who will fill in these roles. This may take time, but making the effort to set a structure in place will reap you benefits in the long run.
As nonprofit founders like Drew Bagot discovered firsthand, implementing an effective nonprofit corporate structure can make the difference between a struggling nonprofit and a successful one, which actually helps its targeted beneficiaries. So, if you’re looking at starting your own nonprofit, you might want to consider implementing a simple, but clearly defined, corporate structure.