Following your passion is a good start, but acquiring some business savvy kicks things into high gear.
Do what you love and the money will follow—but make sure you have the skills to keep your passion project in the black. As many as 10,000 churches close their doors every year, not because of a lack of faith but a lack of the business savvy needed to keep any organization economically viable.
Leadership through delegating
Great leadership in any organization hinges on engaging people with a variety of skills to accomplish shared goal. Getting everyone on board with a shared vision or mission can be especially challenging in the nonprofit world because you will probably be relying primarily on volunteers. There must be “social value” to the work because the financial reward is minimal or nonexistent.
Ownership of tasks and outcomes can be highly rewarding for volunteers. At the same time, delegating important tasks may require a lot of faith on the part of the management team. Great leaders know how to oversee without micromanaging, and encourage volunteers take pride in the outcome of their tasks. Building a network of volunteer committees, a trickle-down system of ownership, can ease the pressure of leadership.
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Overseeing financial operations
While church and nonprofit leaders may not directly forecast cash flow and sales, monitor profit and loss, and keep accounting records, a working knowledge of these tasks is imperative to sustainably manage and oversee accounting and finance operations.
“Using time and money more effectively always has a positive impact on the work not-for-profits and churches achieve in the world,” says Cheri Lovell, who participated in the course Taking Strategic Action, offered by Seattle University’s School of Theology.
Cultivating private donors and community partners for fundraising
Nobody likes to ask for money, but cultivating private donors and community partners is critical to the success of any nonprofit.
Marketing and community relations
The most effective nonprofits have a clear story to share with employees, the served population, volunteers and funders. This story is the soul of your marketing, publicity and community relations. The story is told not just through words, but also through actions. How does your organization fill a need in the community—or even the world at large?
The way you share that story is the mark of effective leadership. Social media is imperative these days: post regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to communicate with your followers and potential supporters. Involvement in community events also enriches your organization’s story—whether you initiate the event or team-up with like-minded organizations.
The School of Theology and Ministry is a part of Seattle University, a Jesuit Catholic University built on spirituality and social justice, with dedication to interreligious relationships for the common good. It offers seven graduate degrees, three professional certificates and professional development courses.