Running a successful nonprofit is possible, but it certainly is not easy in today’s nonprofit and donor landscape. Innovation is key to survival and a needed key to scaling your impact. The concern is that innovation is inhibited due to the various challenges the nonprofit sector is experiencing. Innovation in the nonprofit sector has shown great promise and delivers crucial services in the communities they work. Great ideas with the potential to change society and have a lasting impact, are reined in or are over before it even began. This is due to challenges such as funding, burnout, and limited capacity. Is your organisation built for impactful, sustainable innovation? We need to look at the organisations that are scaling and establish how they are doing it.
The Impumelelo top award winners show many similarities in how they run their organisations to be innovative and impactful, while sustainable.
For successful nonprofits, innovation is an urgent imperative that they believe is necessary to advance their missions of addressing social challenges. The leaders understand if they do not come up with new and fresh solutions to the plethora of social issues they face, they will not achieve the large-scale impact they strive for.
Many organisations get stuck in challenges such as policy changes, competition and securing funding for the sake of surviving the next year or two. While focused on the challenges, they neglect to seek out and anticipate emerging opportunities and loose out on distinctive offerings that could open the door to becoming leaders in a specific niche area of service delivery. By being the leaders in innovations, your organisation automatically becomes a sought-after investment for philanthropists and funders.
Our award winners have also tested and developed their services to a point where they are seen as models of excellence and best practice. Innovative ideas are generated, followed by prototyping and development, until the model has been tested and rolled out and only then, they scale their impact. Resources are applied to ensure the validity of the idea before it is seen as impactful and sustainable innovation.
Claiming that your organisation is doing good work and making a difference is no longer acceptable. Evidence is the form of impact measurement is the name of the game. Measuring impact help nonprofits make better decisions and communicate their value more clearly.
Nonprofits face the most pressing issues of our time. Addressing social ills such as education, employment, clean water, food security, health, environmental conservation and social services, is crucial to secure the well-being and survival of humanity. One would assume that such important work will be based on proper data collection and informed decision-making. Unfortunately, our nonprofits are limited in terms of financial sustainability, human resources and skills, capacity and leadership development.
Impumelelo award winners are able to indicate their reach and impact clearly, and more importantly, they are able to adapt and apply their services in the best possible way according to trends recorded in their data.
One of the metrics our award winners are measured on is their current sustainability, as well as their sustainability planning. Increasingly, funders are supporting nonprofits that are focused on income-generation, while delivering on impact and showing a return on investment.
One of the key aspects of sustainability is developing access to resources. Our experience shows that vision, effective planning and access to resources, leads to greater entrepreneurial confidence and improved results.
Another important aspect is whether the organisation has built successful systems and whether or not these systems are available and accessible to all employees, as this ensures continuity and growth of the organisation and not just the leadership.
Collaboration between award winners in our network is a highlight for Impumelelo. Capacity building, new partnerships and co-designed solutions are what we strive for in our master classes and networking.
We often see how nonprofits struggle because they work in silos and do not see the value of a shared economy in the social sector. Impumelelo believes in collective leadership and encourages other nonprofits to embrace a new culture of knowledge-sharing, capacity building and the ability to work across organisational boundaries in order to empower one another and implement co-designed solutions.
Nonprofit professionals should see themselves as storytellers. The stories we at Impumelelo has encountered throughout the years are absolutely inspirational and these stories connect people and educate them more than any statistics and research will be able to. We need to collect and share more of these success stories, as storytelling is at the heart of how we process information.
Research shows that feelings, not analytical thinking, drive action and donations. Using newsletters, social media and website are crucial for sharing the stories of your impact and to inspire action, as your stories will convey your mission and successes.
If you are ready to take your organisation to the arena of the innovators and the change makers, be sure to collaborate and consult with Impumelelo on how to reach sustainability and join us in the fundamental shift needed in the nonprofit sector.