NPO Blog

Project Management for Nonprofits from A to Z

Both for-profit and non-profit organizations set goals, create strategies to implement ideas and use different methods to achieve them. However, for-profits and non-profits operate in different ways. The nonprofit management level differs in project management fundamentals and algorithm tasks. It requires its own backbone in the organization. Nonprofits may differ from one another externally, but they share the same structure at their core level.

Mapping Out Nonprofit Project Tasks

Founding a non-profit organization is only the beginning of its activities. It is necessary to create a functioning system that will allow an organization to achieve the planned results. Regardless of the field and type of activity, the management structure should include the main bodies to carry out nonprofit project management tasks. 

Krysta Grangeno, founder of the nonprofit Reflecting Change, has shown real-world examples in the social sector. She shares her knowledge and recommendations to get started. It is necessary to organize:

  • Directors and Managers Department
  • Technical Department
  • Human Resources Department
  • Accounting and Financial Management Department
  • Fundraising Department
  • Information Division
  • Legal Department
  • Other departments, according to individual objectives 

It is not enough for the founder of a company to create these departments. It is also necessary to participate in all the processes and developments that non-profit can undertake. Based on this model, we can create a tentative model of the company’s functioning. 

Continuity of work

A properly organized workflow should have no gaps. Each of the departments and all the employees should understand their responsibilities and the list of tasks. Constant movement stimulates progress.

Finance and strategy

The department in charge of finance management must allocate available finances competently and confidently. The accounting department should create detailed reports and record all expenditures. 

The care for personnel

First and foremost, every employee needs comfortable working conditions, stable payments, and taxes. In addition, specialists may need help with tasks or additional assistance. It is beneficial for all employees to have the opportunity for professional growth, training, and certifications. Even the most experienced worker needs to adapt to new conditions.

The technological side of the company

Today, without information technology and communication channels, companies are cut off from the world. To ensure the quality of technology, you need a specialist to customize and adapt tools to your needs.

This is the basic structure to fully support work processes and the organization as a whole. This changes as needed, and often other departments are added for specific tasks. 

Strategies for Effective Nonprofit Projects & Measuring Success

Every organization has goals, and to achieve success, the workflow must be customized. Nonprofit project strategies are defined by the desired results. All progression is structured into several stages.

SMART goal setting

The ultimate goal should have milestones and timetables. These objectives should be clearly and specifically spelled out. Each step should be achievable, have an actual value, and have a clear deadline. 

Indicators for assessing achievements

All successful steps have a specific outcome. They solve a problem or enable a team to move on to the next item in the plan. The indicators let the company know if the implemented steps were performed successfully. These will be success metrics in terms of numbers, achievements, or prospects for advancement. The project risks getting off track without indicators. 

Practice adjustment and change

After the first strategic steps, the organization will be able to see several results and further opportunities. There are almost always difficulties, shortcomings, and omissions. The interim analysis allows to develop a sector-specific management. The plan will be adjusted, failures will be replaced, and weaknesses will be strengthened. The company will have its first experiences and lessons learned. This will help to reorganize the activity and reach the set goal. 

Monitoring progress

A non-profit organization needs to understand how successful a project has been. For project evaluation, the above-mentioned indicators are used. Information, statistics, and interviews with eyewitnesses to the company’s activities should also be collected. All information is analyzed and displayed as one result. 

Publicizing the results of success

The company has to report its expenses to investors, confirm its efficiency to authorities, and demonstrate its success to the people. Good results and pleasant news from the company will prolong its life and allow it to get new financial injections for future projects. It may be possible to gain additional support from the authorities, other organizations, or more volunteers for further plans.     

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Overcoming Nonprofit Project Hurdles

Regardless of the sphere and type of activity, organizations always experience problems. Issues in nonprofit management come from a variety of individual directions. According to Trevor Stasik, CAPM, business analyst at Make-A-Wish, there are four most common ones. He also suggests possible nonprofit solutions:

  1. A critical lack of resources

Nonprofit organizations are constantly short on budget, time, and technical equipment. They receive resources strictly for their primary purpose. The solution is to narrow the circle of influence and lower the bar for results. 

  1. Speed of decision-making

Nonprofits have an extensive company structure, and many issues have to be dealt with. Global issues and critical problems should be handled by the founders or leaders of the organization. Day-to-day issues should be entrusted to department specialists or trusted individuals. 

  1. Lots of work for a few people

A significant part of the work in nonprofit organizations is done by volunteers. To avoid losing free workers, it is important to maintain a friendly atmosphere in the organization. These people are motivated by the mission of the project. Heavy pressure and rude attitudes will instantly lead to a loss of interest. 

  1. Remuneration for labor

A nonprofit organization cannot reward employees with cash bonuses or paid time off. But it can provide a different kind of support, like an interesting trip to handle company business or assign tasks to another worker if the first one doesn’t like them. 

To find nonprofit solutions to other problems, it is necessary to look for creative approaches and non-standard methods.     

Tools and Resources for Nonprofit Projects

In the world of information technology, there are now enough tools that will be useful for nonprofit organizations. These nonprofit management software programs can optimize the work of:

  • The donations
  • Communication networks
  • Analytics tools
  • Social media management
  • Project management
  • Design tools
  • Other 

The software allows a company to attain resource optimization and efficiently set up workflows. Among project management tools, dozens of free ones that are available for use. It is enough to choose the right one and become more productive.