8 Keys to Sustainability for small nonprofits

Nonprofit laser focus

So how does a small nonprofit assure it’s around for the long haul? Sustainability is a term that gets tossed around a lot but what does it really mean? More importantly,  what does it take to be sustainable?
O.k. I’ll take a crack at answering these questions today.  To be sustainable means using resources in such a way as to not deplete or permanently damage them.  In other words, at any point in time the organization has an excess reserve of valuable resources.
With that in mind, here are my 8 keys to sustainability for small nonprofits.
  1. Laser Focus. The organization’s mission and vision must clearly meet the needs of clients. A small nonprofit must have the ability to accomplish this while retaining its economic independence.
  2. Adequate Means. The tools to carry out the mission must be available and put to proper use when necessary. These tools will be financial and non-financial.
  3. Unique Added Value.  A competitive advantage must be established. One way to do this is by consistently generating outcomes- both financial and programmatic- that favorably position your nonprofit relative to its peers.
  4. Avant Garde Leadership.  Governance must promote forward-looking and sometimes unconventional thinking.
  5. Responsive to Change.  Both inside and outside of the organization.
  6. People Synergy. To be sustainable, your nonprofit must be able to create a 2+2=5 effect within all of its ranks.  Skilled people who are retained over long periods of time create a product greater than the sum of its parts.
  7. Satisfied Stakeholders. Staying in tune with the needs of all those connected with your mission is a prerequisite to satisfaction. Assuming satisfaction levels are high is dangerous to sustainability.
  8. High Long-Term Value.  In the long-term, net assets and the benefits derived by funders, clients  and local communities served should increase.

Why should your small nonprofit strive for sustainability? One important reason is this. It will help you to attract resources as opposed to competing for them. Be a good steward in putting those resources to use.


One Comment on “8 Keys to Sustainability for small nonprofits”

  1. […] Leadership style that discourages employee ideas for improvement. […]


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