Top 7 Nonprofit Management Tips For Nonprofits

Nonprofit management can be a challenge regardless of your organization’s size or mission. To develop and ensure a healthy organization, your nonprofit management strategy must include innovation, adaptability, and continuous learning. In this article, we help nonprofits personalize their fundraising and marketing, diversify their team, and focus on their mission with several nonprofit management tips.

10 minutes read
Top 7 Nonprofit Management Tips For Nonprofits

The last two years have been stressful to be in nonprofit management. Between canceling vital fundraising events, losing corporate partners and other funders, and being unable to fulfill funder requirements for grants, most nonprofits had to be nimble.

Innovation, change, and continuous learning were key during the pandemic; be it for finding ways to reach donors through online channels, finding corporate sponsorships for virtual events, or soliciting online donations from existing donors who had never given online. 53% of nonprofits said they had to launch special appeals during the pandemic. And 32% of the organizations in and outside of the US had to adjust and expand their focus toward COVID-19 programs. But slowly, these changes became the new norm and the nonprofit world is now learning to evolve in the right direction. 

With this article, we want to help nonprofits stop surviving the change and instead, take it on themselves to find success with these 7 effective nonprofit management tips. 

  1. Adaptability is Key
  2. Focus on New and Younger Donors
  3. Personalize Your Fundraising and Marketing Content
  4. Revamp Your Tools
  5. Diversify Your Leadership
  6. Think About Your Employees
  7. Focus on Your Mission
Nonprofit Management Tips

1. Adaptability is Key

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it pays to be flexible. The past years required nonprofit leaders to adapt quickly to the new environment, shifting to providing virtual services, finding creative ways to evolve their programs, and managing their nonprofits with courage. A COVID-19 survey said that according to 40.5% of nonprofit leaders, adaptability was the most important trait they used to succeed during that time, followed by creativity at 16.22%. Adaptability is key in nonprofit management and the coming years are only going to bring more potential for quick-thinking creativity.

Ways to prepare your nonprofit for change:

  • Reorganizing and reprioritizing staff, even increasing staff capacity, can help account for the additional support needs.
  • Refitting any digital communication platforms like a website or an app to accommodate online means of connection such as chat functions or video conferencing interfaces will help you communicate with community members in need.
  • Finding board leadership that is willing and ready to take on the challenge will help support your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Have skilled volunteers and staff members in the team, those who have experience with leading decision-making processes.
  • Come up with realistic goals and effective evaluation measures to ensure you and your team are working effectively. 

2. Focus on New and Younger Donors

nonprofit management and leadership

The paradigm shift caused by the pandemic, along with an increase in millennial and even gen Z donors, means your nonprofit needs to find an approach to fundraising that appeals to a younger audience, with slightly different giving preferences. These generations now make up more than half of the US population and 95% use smartphones. Here are some startling facts about these donors you must know as a nonprofit leader.

  • Millennials are confident with their giving, but they need to be impressed by a nonprofit’s digital presence to feel comfortable choosing where their donations go.
  • Millennials and gen Z are primarily motivated by a sense of social responsibility and are excited by the idea of social change. They want to make a difference!
  • Young donors want to see how their donations are being used effectively.
  • Young donors love to share about the cause they care about and the impact they’re helping create.
  • Digital wallets are the key to their hearts. Options like Venmo, Google Pay, and Apple Pay make giving look easy to them and they’re more likely to donate to the charities that have such options.
  • Although young donors don’t always have the financial means to be big donors, they would rather donate what they can spare to a variety of nonprofits with pressing, relevant missions than to one nonprofit annually.

What does this mean for your nonprofit?

  • Creating mission-centered, transparent campaigns should be the focus in days to come.
  • Adding fast payment options to your online donation form.
  • Making social media sharing and involvement easier so these donors are attracted to your campaigns. 
  • Using a mobile-optimized website and donation pages so the younger donors find it convenient to learn about your mission.
  • Having attractive social media pages with ample reference to the cause and impact, along with any pressing needs.

Once you understand how the fundraising landscape has been affected by the past year, it’s time to come up with an actionable plan to make your future fundraising the best it can be. 

3. Personalize Your Fundraising and Marketing Content

nonprofit management and leadership

With an understanding of how younger donors think and what they look for in a nonprofit, you can strategize to find the best way to target new donors and cultivate existing donors into long-term supporters. Here are a few ways to better connect with all your donors and improve fundraising efforts through content in your organization.

  • Personalization is key! Donors want to feel like your nonprofit really appeals to them and their individual interests. Conduct surveys of your recent donors to see what kind of content they would like to see and what areas of your programming they’re most interested in supporting. Use this info to target new donors with similar philanthropic goals.
  • Be as transparent as possible. Obviously, a level of transparency is required to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit—but we’re talking about going beyond posting your form 990 on your website. Include infographics about your recent successes, pictures of the communities you actively serve, video content, and other engaging digital content that’s easy to access and clearly shows your nonprofit’s value.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Connect with other nonprofits who work in similar (but not the same!) areas of service or communities and ask to collaborate on social media content. This may seem counterintuitive, but using your platform to support others shows young donors that you’re a good steward in the philanthropic community.
  • Rock your emails. Get creative with the content—make it valuable content about your organization. Address your donors by their first names, add images and call to action buttons. Make your emails stand out! But also…
  • Don’t give up on direct mail! According to a study, 77% of millennials pay attention to direct emails. Consider lighter mailings like flyers and postcards that cut back on waste and cost but still look attractive and interesting for the recipient.

Being creative with your strategies will help you maintain your fundraising goals and maybe even surpass them. 

4. Revamp Your Tools

nonprofit management and leadership

To have the right fundraising strategy, you need the right tools. Even before the pandemic, fundraising was moving more and more into the digital world. Now, it is all the more so. Even the baby boomers are these days expecting to find online giving options on charity websites. They’ve come to understand the reliability of these payment options.

Here are some easy ways to revamp your fundraising process for efficiency and ease of access.

  • If you aren’t already, use social media to accept donations. Is your organization open for Facebook fundraising campaigns? Does your Instagram have a donation button? If not, you might be missing out on donations that are easily gathered.
  • Integrate a donation form like that of Donorbox to your website. Your donation form should provide donors with a seamless online donating experience. This form needs to be easily customizable to your brand and help you smoothly collect recurring donations to help maximize your fundraising. Look for other add-ons like tribute donations, donation designation, multiple currencies, suggested donation amounts, etc.
  • Streamline your donor data management. With Donorbox, you can easily search your donors with filters for frequency, amount, and more. This allows you to easily find donors for targeting campaigns and other kinds of outreach. You can also add communication notes and get a list of important donor moments such as first-time giving, giving anniversary, changes in recurring plans, etc.
  • Create a virtual donor wall to instantly acknowledge and appreciate your donors. This shows your donors that they matter right away, without any lag time of a personalized thank-you letter. With Donorbox, donors are automatically added to your donor wall, saving you and your team valuable time and energy to do what really matters—supporting your mission.
  • Upgrade to an online tool that lets you run crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns for more engagement, outreach, and donations. 
  • Most of your events are now online or hybrid. Choose a tool that lets you create an event online, add unlimited tickets, determine tax-deductibility of each ticket, send automated receipts, and manage the sold tickets and purchasers’ information at the backend. Such events are easier to market online and better for attracting younger donors.

Streamlining how you handle donations on the backend can simplify work chains for your employees, giving them more time to focus on things that really matter. With the right tools, this and the coming years could be smooth(er) sailing.

5. Diversify Your Leadership

nonprofit management and leadership

It’s time to have leadership that reflects the diverse communities your nonprofit serves. Your board members are stewards of your organization, each with different assets that they bring to lift up your organization’s mission through careful management oversight, donor cultivation, corporate connections, and more.

5.1 Why is diversity important?

Your board should reflect the diversity of the community your nonprofit serves. This allows your nonprofit to gain useful connections with all members of the community, leading to potential new donors and collaborations. It also shows the community that you value expanding your organization’s cultural awareness.

When you have a difficult management decision to review, having a diverse board can lead to better decision-making. All opportunities and potential downsides can be considered. Actively diversifying keeps your board fresh—broadening networks, social circles, and cultivation potential. Maintaining a diverse board can improve the culture of your nonprofit and make your employees feel more recognized as a member of your team.

5.2 How to get started

Consider where your nonprofit is headed. What will you need from future board members? Think about things like networks, skills, life experience, and involvement. Share this discussion with your current board members. Keeping them in the loop about any searches for new board members keeps them up-to-date and allows them to consider their own contacts as potential candidates.

With your board, develop a plan that includes attainable goals and a timeline. An example would be a plan to recruit two new board members that fit your nonprofit’s needs by the end of the year. Avoid tokenism by considering how to improve your overall board culture. New voices are most effective on a board when they make up 30% of the total board or at least three people. Make new board members feel comfortable by incorporating social time before or after board meetings.

Diversifying your board is an important tip for successful nonprofit management and it will only continue to serve your nonprofit with new ideas, connections, and leadership strengths in years to come.

6. Think About Your Employees

nonprofit management

Remember that as hard as the pandemic felt from the management side, your employees also felt the effect of this new work environment. Whether they were able to work from home or were still going to the office, or even out in the field to support your mission, these years likely took a toll on them.

Creating a better culture starts with treating your employees with respect and care. After all, they’re the ones who actively carry out your mission and support your nonprofit’s goals. While you ultimately have to consider the needs of your nonprofit first and foremost, finding synchronicity with your staff and your needs will create an environment where your employees are happy to go to work.

Employee wellness means that your employees feel like more than their basic needs are being met. They should feel properly supported and appreciated, with an emphasis on work-life balance that often gets overlooked in the nonprofit world.  

6.1 The 3 areas for employee wellness improvement

  • Community health. This refers to your employees’ perception of the community around them. Are they given the time and space to participate in community service projects?  This is easy to overlook in the nonprofit world since working for a nonprofit can seemingly fill this gap.
  • Mental health and belonging. It’s important for employees to feel like they belong in a workspace—even if they’re working remotely.
  • Personal health. Do your employees have the time and encouragement to take care of themselves? Encourage your employees to take a day or two off if they haven’t been feeling well and working nonstop in the hours of crisis. Introduce new time-off days for their personal health.

6.2 Top 3 ideas for employee wellness initiatives

  • Hold short team meetings at the beginning of each day just to check in, chat, and ease into the day. Use this time to prioritize goals for the day, check in on weekly initiatives, and give your employees a regular opportunity to present problems. This is especially helpful when working remotely to help your employees mentally prepare for the workday.
  • Host fun competitions for the best workspace (at home or in the office), the best home cooking, or even pet-of-the-week. The winner gets a reward, but everyone who participates gets to feel good and share a little about themselves with their colleagues.
  • Start a wellness program to encourage employees to practice healthy habits. This might seem like a big undertaking, but the benefits of having a healthy staff that feels valued are immeasurable. For a good example, read about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life, a program that 97% of their employees view as a benefit.  

If you don’t have the bandwidth to implement sweeping new employee wellness programs, start small! Think about what you can do. Talk to your board to see what seems reasonable—they might have great suggestions that can work well within any budget.

7. Focus on Your Mission

nonprofit management tips

This one may seem obvious, but after all of the different pressure points over the past couple of years, it can be easy to forget your original goal. You should celebrate your ability to adapt to unstable times and use what you’ve learned to refocus and regain momentum. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to consider how your mission has been served over the last year and how it needs to be served going forward.

7.1 What management adaptations and creativity from the previous year should you bring into this?

Reflecting on this gives you and your team the chance to figure out what worked well and what’s worth keeping. Consider what changes or actions will help you continue to serve your mission this year. You and your team might perform a SWOT analysis to consider these changes—looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to figure out how your recent adaptations can serve you in the future.

7.2 Did your activities shift too far?

If your nonprofit pivoted a little during the pandemic, chances are it was to serve your community in new and urgent ways. This is not a bad thing! There’s also a good chance you’re still performing some of these activities that felt so new only a year ago. Take a step back to see how they fit with your original mission. What’s most important to your community? Talk with your board to see how—or if—your mission needs to grow to accommodate this new activity in the long term.

If you do need to tweak your mission statement, looking at recent examples is a helpful way to see how other nonprofits have taken on this challenge.

7.3 How are you measuring your success with any new initiatives?

Whether you changed your programming last year or not, the current year will likely ask for some different ways of measuring success. The good news is that you have control over these measurement techniques and can set goals in a way that feels helpful to the day-to-day realities of your organization. Whether you measure by community members served, number of resources distributed, amount of aid given, or virtual audience members—come up with a metric that makes sense for your mission.

Any adaptation only makes the fabric of your nonprofit stronger. At the end of the day, your goal as a nonprofit is to help—and if that’s what you’ve done, feel good knowing that you can continue that important goal in the present and the coming years.


nonprofit management tips

Not even the best nonprofit trend predictor could have predicted what the pandemic brought to our doorsteps. But with some good commonsense approaches and an eye toward adaptability, most nonprofits managed to bring about a huge success in helping lives across the globe. Remember to appreciate all your nonprofit has done. It may be time to revamp and reestablish systems that work better than the old way we did things, but you should never feel like your work is for nothing. That’s the wonderful upside of working in nonprofit management—no matter what, your work is for good.

Donorbox is an all-in-one online fundraising solution with robust and simple-to-use features that have helped 50,000+ nonprofits across 40 countries across the world. Know about our features here

For more tips and insights to carry you through this year and beyond, check out the rest of our nonprofit blog. Subscribe to our Youtube channel for helpful visual guides, webinars, and demo videos for better fundraising and nonprofit management. 

Lindsey Baker

Lindsey spent years wearing many hats in the nonprofit world. Whether she was helping arts nonprofits with their messaging and content, planning a fundraising gala, writing an NEA grant proposal, or running a membership program with over 400 members, she learned how to navigate – and appreciate! – the fast-paced world of fundraising. Now, she loves sharing those hard-earned lessons with the Donorbox community.

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