Human-services business

Nonprofits need to diversify, collaborate, act strategically.

By Hector Perez

[06.02.04] — I have the best job in the world. I work for a nonprofit that provides direct, social and educational services for children and families.

In our small way, we help to restore the fabric of society. We patch it up the best we can and we move ahead.

Our business plan seems simple enough. Yes, that’s what it is, a business plan. We’re in the business of human services. And how we respond to economic adversity will define our success and our character.

More importantly, as in any business venture, our clients come first, so we have to be victorious.

So, how do nonprofit folks avoid the temptation to complain? Stay positive and constantly prepare for the changes ahead.

For instance, if the reality is that some government funding may be cut, refocus and pursue a diversified income stream. It just makes good common sense.

Make sure that your fundraising campaign is strategic, driven by deadlines and fully supported by your board of directors.

If possible, add folks to your circle of friends. If you have three churches that support your organization through volunteers and sponsorships, set a goal of having a dozen churches supporting your organization’s mission. It can be done.

Another important aspect of building a network is collaboration. Make the time to enter into meaningful dialogue with corporations, activists and citizens groups. Perhaps join the local chamber of commerce.

Finally, provide your own forecast for the future. Create a strategic vision, remove roadblocks, avoid commiseration, and generate genuine opportunity.

If you surround yourself with positive friends, you will craft a better fabric for society.

Hector Perez is executive director of El Centro Latino in Carrboro, N.C.

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