14 July 2016

Three things your business can learn from NFPs

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Not-for-profit organisations have been quick to learn from their for-profit counterparts. They have learned the importance of effective management and utilising resources strategically but it’s not often the attention is reciprocated- and it’s definitely deserved.

From 2012-13, the not-for-profit sector accounted for $54,796 million of GVA (gross value added). This is 3.8 per cent of GDP, dwarfing the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries which contribute 2.4 per cent.

Whilst most businesses seek to learn from their competitors, they ignore organisations in opposing sectors. As NFP’s work with limited funding and resources, they are forced to develop innovative business models and approaches to employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Here are three things your business can gain from NFPs:

  • Define your organisation’s mission

It’s easy to make ideological, sweeping statements full of good intentions like “We dream to put an end to homelessness.” By focusing on objectives that are clear-cut and goal-oriented, you deliver real world implications. “We aim to reduce homelessness by 30 percent by 2018” is a much stronger statement which promises immediate, tangible outcomes.

  • Treat your employees like (paid) volunteers

Your employees have other options. They can and will leave if one of these other options becomes more attractive. It may surprise you that salary is not the biggest motivator. According to Forbes, there is a direct link between employee engagement and revenue. Companies where 90% of employees felt engaged have earnings per share 147% higher than their competitors.

Forbes identifies three factors that keep volunteers (and your staff) dedicated: power, community and recognition. “Volunteers feel empowered to reshape themselves and help others; enjoy the experience of being part of a passionate community unified around a common purpose; and are appreciated and recognised for their work.”

  • Treat your customers like donors

NFPs rely on people lightening their wallets and expecting nothing in return. They say ‘thank you’ via letters, phone calls and emails because they know that donors who feel appreciated are more likely to give again. By fostering ongoing relationships with your customers, you increase the likelihood of repeat business. Forbes suggests releasing newsletters with news such as advances in energy efficiency and how they, the customer, made it possible.

Whilst a business can’t be run entirely as an NFP and vice versa, both types of organisation are in a position to ‘pick and choose’ the processes and concepts most suitable for their facility. Alternative ideas are being tried and tested for you- you just need to observe.

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests. 

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