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Leadership seen as key predictor of sustainability

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Leadership is the key to efforts by nonprofits to build their capacity to sustain themselves, a new report says.

Leaders should enforce the efficient and effective use of financial resources, intentionally learn what works and what does not work for clients, and show a willingness to make big changes, says the report by TCC Group.

“Sustainability is not just about fundraising but strong, vision-centered leadership combined with intentional and formal learning practices, financial adaptability, and good sense,” Richard Mittenthal, TCC group president and CEO, says in a statement.

Leaders, he says, should be responsible for developing and communicating an organization’s mission and vision, and for motivating employees to achieve organizational goals.

Peter York, group senior vice president and director of research at TCC, says the size of a nonprofit’s operating budget “is not necessarily the best metric for determining long-term sustainability.”

Nonprofits can best strengthen leadership, he says, “by combining capacity-building strategies such as peer exchange programs with a sophisticated set of assessment, program evaluation, strategic planning tools, and learning practices.”

After leadership, the report says, fundraising and financial management seem to strongly predict nonprofits’ sustainability, followed by program staffing and management, including an organization’s ability “to immediately make the necessary staffing changes to improve services and program delivery (including hiring, development, rewarding and firing staff) and ensuring staff members have the knowledge and property facilities to deliver those services,” the report says.

To strengthen program management, York says, nonprofit should emphasis training and the planning and development of facilities.

Successful nonprofits engage internal and external stakeholders early in the planning process and put strategic plans into effect that lead to direct and measureable improvements in programs and services.

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