The media fury surrounding the business practices of Central Asia Insitute Executive Director Greg Mortenson shows exactly why passion and ideas alone are not enough to ensure success for a nonprofit. As is the case with for-profit organizations, nonprofits demand thoughtful management of resources and finances. Many organizations do what is necessary and follow a best practices approach to management, but there are still others that do not use all of the tools at their disposal for success. The wake of high-profile scandals like the Mortenson’s leave many constituents wondering exactly how and where their donations are being allocated, which is why accountability is more crucial than ever.
There are a number of steps that nonprofits should follow to increase their level of transparency. An easy starting place is identifying the criteria outlined by websites, which offer nonprofit report cards, such as Charity Navigator. Beyond best practices, however, organizations should be prepared to regularly take a hard-nosed look at their core processes and practices. This level of review can help nonprofits determine where they can improve, particularly in areas such as operational performance and financial management.
The area where organizations can really make the most progress is by streamlining their oprations wtih nonprofit management software. The 2010 survey from the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) illustrates that when it comes to technology, many nonprofits fail to adequately plan or utilize the tools at their disposal. In the past, the high price tag of software, for example, might have been a reasonable deterrent to adoption. However, the amount of web-based solutions now available provide a viable, cost-effective alternative to on-premise software. These software-as-a-service applications are typically offered for a monthly fee, enabling organizations to better manage their technology spending. You can get a sense of what options are available by reading nonprofit software reviews.
When it comes to ongoing accountability, it’s important that nonprofits harness all of the tools at their disposal – best practices, strategic oversight, and technology utilization – to ensure they are transparent at every step along the way. With smart planning and good software implementation, nonprofits can create fulfilling relationships with both their financial backers as well as their communities.
You can find more about nonprofit management best practices and software at the Software Advice blog.