A new nonprofit is the product of a person or group of people seeing a need that isn’t being met and setting out to address that need. Trying to solve a problem within a community is not easy, and how your organization is run on day one will more than likely be different from how it’s being run at the end of your first year. A new nonprofit will always go through some growing pains, but there are common mistakes made by inexperienced nonprofits that can be avoided.
“One and done” fundraising
Funding is an important part of running a nonprofit, and one of the biggest mistakes that a new organization can make is underestimating how important fundraising can be. Fundraising is not a ‘one and done’ kind of situation — you can definitely choose to throw one big fundraising event — but it’s important to continue to focus on funding all year round.
Outside of events and accepting donations, your new nonprofit should consider grants as a form of funding. Grants provide funding to your nonprofit that you can put into expanding your service delivery, and there’s a good chance you’re eligible for more than one! Check out our post about how to stand out in the grant application process as part of your research into how to gain funding through grants.
Not tracking data
Tracking your data is an important step in ensuring your new nonprofit’s success, and it’s one that is often forgotten. New nonprofits are usually more interested in delivering a service with the bare amount of data collected to save time. Many organizations choose to use pencil and paper or spreadsheets to keep track of data, if they track data at all.
Keeping track of your data is more important than many new organizations consider it to be. Data serves to validate the work you’re doing, not only within your organization, but to potential funders. By using case management software as an alternative to spreadsheets or pen and paper, you can input data quickly and pull reports easily. If you can track your community, you can see what about your services works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly. Data is an important factor in the grant process, meaning the more you track, the more likely you are to receive the grants you apply for.
Not being fully prepared for what’s ahead could prove to be the ultimate downfall for any new nonprofit. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to think through everything you’re going to need to make the biggest impact possible, and your service delivery can be hindered if you don’t plan far enough into the future.
One way to ensure that your organization has planned to the fullest extent is to revisit your mission statement at regular intervals with your leadership, ensuring that you’re still on target. Not only will your nonprofit be able to evolve and grow, you will also be able to spot any areas that could use more in-depth planning.
For more tips, check out our post on how to start a nonprofit.