Business – the word brings to mind a frantic rush to earn and retain profits, to outreach competitors and to lure many more customers to expand the profit-making net. But can revenue making establishments all be known as profit-making machines? Certainly not! In the vast scheme of earning money, Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs), which may or may not also be a non-Government organization, also play a very important role. For such an organization to function, profits are required. But these profits are not given to the owners or the stakeholders of the organization. They are instead saved for the activities performed by the organization or used to plan such activities. Make no mistake, they do make profits. But the motive for making these profits are very different from those of usual business establishments. Bearing in mind how the entities function, it would be interesting to cast an eye over what management strategies they employ from time to time.
1. Prioritize that which you do best – This is one of the management strategies that are used by NPOs for the simple reason that they cannot afford to let their efforts and resources be overused in many diverging paths. Without the right force, it becomes difficult for an NPO to achieve its set target on one particular path under these circumstances. Take, for example, a very famous and one of the oldest of such organizations in India – Child Rights and You (CRY). For the longest time, many people only gifted each other cards made by this fabulous organization that has been going strong since its inception in 1979. This organization chose NOT to directly support children who required attention in any capacity – health, social, personal, child abuse, etc. Instead, they choose to be the trusted and dedicated link between the people who could fund child aid programs and the several thousands of organizations who work at grass-root levels to reach out to such children and help them. They prioritized arranging for the finances and not actually implementing them for the cause they stand by – they instead ensured the money reached the right place.
2. Get noticed – This is one example that will pleasantly surprise you. How many of us have entered the beautifully decorated hallowed spaces of an ISKCON temple? Many. There are after all so many in India itself, not to mention the ones abroad. We all know how popular this organization became, thanks to Beatles and George Harrison. But, many people are thankful to this organization for running the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation. The Vaisnava Society has been responsible for the delivery of food to various parts of the cities in which they have one of their famous temples. What do we take away from this organization? They attain larger amounts of goodwill amongst their believers and even in their non-believers by showcasing the philanthropic side of their religious being. As even saints have agreed, doing good deeds is a better way of pleasing the Gods than chanting hymns and passing holy beads between fingers.
3. Maintain lateral ties – The biggest strength and ironically the biggest challenged for an NPO is maintaining an incredible network of people who can donate time and money to the causes supported by the organization. The network within the organization should be adept to handle the requirements of the people who dedicate their time for reduced or nil payments. At the same time, NPOs must also have strong ties with outsiders to ensure they get a steady supply of funds and donated goods for re-distribution to the needy. Onyx E-Cell is an NPO that is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, affiliated to the National Entrepreneurship network (NEN). It was set up in 2009 and is now the most successful entrepreneurship cells in India! So how did they manage this? By properly managing the contributors to this NPO and maintaining good ties with other entrepreneurs and angel funders.
4. Handle resistance competently – Convincing someone to part with money and time is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Most people follow the “What’s in it for me” policy. So convincing them of explicit and implicit benefits is vital. People managing an NPO should have strategic plans chalked out to anticipate these roadblocks and keep a plan A, and then, a plan B ready to tackle these obstacles. India is one of the few countries where people still have some old traditions to live by. One of them includes taking care of our elders’ right up till the end. Sadly, this tradition is on the decline and foundations like HelpAge India are working overtime to help the elderly who are neglected by their offspring because they are working overtime to earn profits. So, it would be a little difficult to convince people that such organizations are vital in India too and maintain them as well, and HelpAge India has done well so far!
5. Stand firm by their beliefs – A tactic that is especially required against well-heeled opponents, the management of an NPO must ensure to remind their volunteers and board members from time to time why their beliefs are true and still hold good. A lot of money and convenient life may sway many people’s determinations to hold fast to their beliefs. A perfect example of this would be ELA Foundation. This NPO primarily deals with the birds in India and taking care of the ones in need or those who are on the verge of extinction. Why, one wonders, would someone employ so much of time and money in birds when there are so many humans who need urgent attention? The answer would be – The human race co-depends on the other living organisms on the planet – animals, birds, trees and even bacteria and fungi. So studying birds, their lives, population and their diseases is important to us too. To convince other people of this itself is an uphill task. But ELA has gained credence by staying alive since 2001 and handling many projects successfully. What else but their belief could have driven them so far?
For an NPO, its biggest assets are its reputation and workforce. The more reputed it is, the more well it can mobilize resources in the right place at the right time. So management strategies for them, of course, would be very different when compared to other profit-making organizations.