Many of today’s non-profit companies overcome significant obstacles to achieve favorable outcomes for their constituents each day. They are so passionate about their work that they sometimes fail to properly focus on sustainability. They function well, so long as donations flow abundantly. But when they diminish or evaporate, the non-profit and their constituents suffer. In the business world, many would be candidates for bankruptcy at any given time. This is because their leadership does not understand that it MUST run like a for-profit business to be successful.

When some non-profits address a cause, disease, or community injustice they become more focused on having an impact than on financial planning and strategy. Just like a corporation,their effort addresses a need and has a target audience. It must similarly have a sound strategy, with measurable performance metrics, forecastable cash flow and projected revenue. Few are so well-positioned that they need not concern themselves with generating their own revenue. Capital campaigns, solicited donations, board performance, and merchandise sales are internally controlled.

On the other hand, grants are not under the control of the non-profit. The government or foundation may decide, at any time, to shift causes or budget distribution, leaving the non-profit that it supported for several years to find new operating revenue. This is sometimes not easy to do and when 70 - 80% of the operating budget is driven by grants, the non-profit and its constituents are at great risk.

This sometimes causes the leadership team to shift from a focus on strategy and operations to grant research, “sales”, and grant-writing. If this snowballs, the non-profit may find itself downsizing and stretching its staff and resources more thinly than desired.

When priority is not placed on the business of a non-profit, there is little thought devoted to market size, market share, variable operating costs, timelines, private sector partnerships, profit margins and an overall 5+ year strategy. Without a business mentality, many new and existing non-profits are destined to face difficulty.

A societal need, a good heart, and passion help the cause is not enough to bring a new charity to fruition. A business plan, accompanied by a like mind set will breathe life into the cause that it is really important to the people it was started to help.

THE HLN MARKETING mission is to guide selected non-profits to profitably build brands using cutting-edge technology, sustainable methodologies, and solid marketing strategies to form powerful connections between constituents, foundations, and the private sector.