Finding the opportunity to do good differs from person to person. Being charitable and being active in the community and causes you care about is always something we should strive for. But those with a profound belief in a cause, and some skills or experience in running an organization might find themselves wanting to do more. They may start or grow to a position of leadership in a nonprofit. Before you take that step, however, it’s important to realize doing good isn’t always as simple as it seems. Here are some of the challenges you’re going to have to learn to cope with.
The fight for funding
Unfortunately, getting funding in the world of nonprofits isn’t always as easy as having a good cause. Charities can benefit from the goodwill of donors with a strong marketing message, but most of your funding it going to come from grants and applying for them can be a grueling process. Find the applicable grants and schedule time to filling in applications. It’s very easy to lose track of this essential need and end up running your funds dry.
It can be incredibly complex
Because profit isn’t involved, you might think that running a nonprofit might be simpler than running a business, but the opposite is genuinely proven true. Instead, you come face-to-face with brand new regulations and legal requirements and you should be ready to find non-profits lawyers to help you navigate them. Forming the organization, applying for tax exemption, obtaining corporate sponsorship are all complex issues that require some expertise. Otherwise, in your attempts to do good, you might end up breaking the law.
You need to run it like a business
You might not be profit motivated, but that doesn’t mean that you can afford to not keep the bottom line in mind. In this case, it’s ensuring that you’re not making strategic mistakes that result in losing more money than you can afford to. You need to structure yourself like a business, measuring the practical metrics of the work you do, attracting board members, and attracting employees and offering the right compensation for their skills. Your intentions might not be profit-motivated, but you could be working with people with highly-paid skills. If you don’t treat them as such, they can leave for other opportunities.
It can feel thankless at times
Sometimes, working in or running a nonprofit can give you the opportunity to genuinely help someone and often they will be thankful and make it all feel worth it. In the day-to-day of managing projects, marketing, and providing resources, however, you don’t get that face-to-face and it can feel thankless. You have to find your own sense of accomplishment in helping others even when the impact you make isn’t always clear.
As with most attempts to do good in the real world, running a nonprofit organization is hard work. But you have to learn to work within the system to affect real change in it. So, prepare for the struggles ahead and always keep your goal in mind.