Nonprofit Tough: Five Traits of a Strong Nonprofit Community
Communities face challenges every day. Whether it’s homelessness, poverty, addiction, natural disasters or a global pandemic, a community is only as strong as those who live, work and serve there. And in most communities, nonprofits are on the frontlines helping to meet these challenges head on. But what about the people in the community? Are they all in? We’ve already talked about what it means for organizations to be Nonprofit Tough – now let’s take a closer look at the traits of Nonprofit Tough communities.
Nonprofit Tough communities work together to solve problems, improve opportunities and create an environment that fosters collaboration. It may be a truism, but we really are better together. Often, nonprofits conduct their work in a silo. They view other nonprofits as competitors rather than collaborators. However, really successful communities identify opportunities to build synergies that multiply their impact on the populations they serve. Additionally, Nonprofit Tough communities actively seek partnerships between nonprofits, business and government. Each of these sectors brings something unique to the table. Combined, they are able to bring to bear resources that each one individually could never offer. Whether it’s money, expertise or just sheer numbers, collaboration means the ability to do more, serve better and create opportunities for transformational impact.
Strong nonprofit communities come together to equip organizations for success. This means there are entities with the primary mission to make nonprofits better through access to education, training, mentorship, networking and tools. In the Triangle, we’re blessed to have organizations like The NC Center for Nonprofits, United Way of the Greater Triangle, Mission Triangle and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Triangle. These groups, and others like them, provide invaluable resources to nonprofits that make them stronger, increase their impact and bolster their efficiency. These empowering organizations also foster a spirit for and desire to learn for a lifetime. Nonprofit Tough communities are always looking for ways to grow, to build, to constantly improve.
Communities cannot be Nonprofit Tough without a heart and mind bent toward generosity. This looks like individuals, churches, companies and government consistently and generously investing their time, talent and treasure in the nonprofits serving their communities. Nonprofits can’t exist, much less effectively serve, without this kind of support from their stakeholders. Having a generous community also means that nonprofits can have a spirit of abundance not scarcity when it comes to fundraising. They’re not competing for donor support. They agree that there is plenty of time, talent and treasure for all nonprofits to sustain and grow. When you have a generous community and nonprofits who share a spirit of abundance, you’re one step closer to building a Nonprofit Tough community.
The toughest nonprofit communities are actively engaged with the organizations making a positive impact on their area. These communities don’t just support organizations financially; they step in and act as ambassadors and advocates for nonprofits and the nonprofit community. This can be as simple as liking and sharing a social media post or as time-intensive as actively serving on a nonprofit board. The key word there is “actively,” because being a board member is one thing – being an engaged board member means investing real time and effort on behalf of the organization to further its mission, support it financially and recruit others to become champions. One other type of engagement worth noting here is the importance of traditional media in Nonprofit Tough communities. The media help communicate the importance and value of nonprofits and share their stories often. Ultimately, engaged nonprofit communities aren’t bystanders. They’re active participants in ensuring nonprofits have the resources they need to succeed.
Tough nonprofit communities are quick to act when needs arise. They’re able to predict need and rapidly build solutions that provide prompt assistance where it’s needed most. This past year was a perfect example. When COVID-19 hit, tough nonprofit communities leaned into the crisis. They saw the need to invest in organizations meeting basic needs like food, housing and healthcare. Our Triangle community stepped up in a big way with record-setting financial support and a willingness to serve even in the face of health risks. The media kept the public informed about urgent needs and opportunities to support local nonprofits. It was so heartening to watch our own community coalesce into a Nonprofit Tough community committed to supporting nonprofits and those they serve!
It would be nearly impossible to have Nonprofit Tough organizations without Nonprofit Tough communities. Our nonprofits do not exist in a vacuum. They need, and deserve, the active support of the communities in which they serve. And in turn, these communities benefit greatly from their investment. They are usually safer, more equitable and more stable because of it. So, it’s up to us to build and foster Nonprofit Tough communities. Let’s go!