Did you know that only 144 nonprofit organizations have grown to budgets exceeding $ 50 million in revenue since 1970? (See source below).
It’s probably surprising to learn, but the reality is, all you have to do is think about the nonprofits in your neighborhood. Most of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States operate with budgets of less than $ 1 million. There are a few factors that explain why this happens, but one reason is that there are only a handful of leaders who have been able to grow their organizations to dominate the industry.
Individuals who become CEOs of nonprofits and their senior team members, such as directors of development, should seek out mentors to help them break through the roof. Years ago, when I founded a nonprofit organization and grew it to a budget of more than $ 70 million in less than five years, I relied on the expert advice and advice of others. Formal or informal mentors helped me do something that few have done before or since.
If you want to grow and have your nonprofit dominate, then one of the first things you should do is find a mentor who has done it before and ask them to become your sounding board. When looking for a nonprofit leader who can help you get to the next level, think about the following qualities:
- Experience: The first thing to make sure your mentor has is experience. If he or she has run an organization that has a budget of more than $ 1 million, you are looking in the right place. I would start by making a list of people who run nonprofits with budgets in excess of $ 5 million. And, as your nonprofit grows, you can seek out mentors who lead organizations with budgets greater than $ 10 million, $ 20 million, and more.
- Entrepreneur vs. Hold:There are two types of leaders, and when looking for a mentor, you need to be clear about the type of person who will help you. If your nonprofit is a startup, look for someone who has that kind of experience explicitly. However, if your organization has been around for some time and is in growth mode, look for a mentor leader who knows how to grow an existing group. Entrepreneurs have different skills and mindsets than those who develop an existing organization.
- Transformational leader: No matter who you are looking for, an entrepreneur or a sustainable developer, you want a transformative leader. In my experience, leaders who grow their organizations substantially are visionary and inspiring. They set a course and a direction. They empower their teams. And they are never satisfied with the way things are; in other words, they seek to transform reality into the way things currently exist.
- Discretion: When looking for a mentor, you have to find someone who will keep your trust in the proverbial vault. The reality is that in order to talk to someone about growing and developing your business and your leadership, you will probably have to disclose things that are confidential and private. The mentor you choose should be someone you trust and have a reputation for keeping trust.
- Thought leadership: Nonprofit leaders who have been able to grow organizations beyond the industry averages are people who, by definition, are thought leaders. If someone has grown a charity to $ 10 million, $ 25 million, $ 50 million or more, they are doing something that very few people have done. And, because there are so few, the reality is that these people are probably opinion leaders. They are helping create the defining narrative within the nonprofit sector.
Finally, when looking for a mentor, find someone who is generous with their time and values having this kind of relationship with you. Mentors and those who have done what you seek to do are an excellent resource for inspiration, ideas, and for learning about challenges and opportunities. As in everything, this learning requires time and consistency. Your mentor will need to be willing to accompany you on the journey.
Fountain: Standford Social Innovation Review, https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_new_nonprofit_ipo