How to Operate a Nonprofit Organisation Like a Business

nonprofit volunteers huddling together

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A nonprofit organisation is different from regular corporations because it’s steered by a purpose to help society through a noble cause. In short, a nonprofit organisation is an entity driven by social responsibility.

One of the challenges nonprofits have is guaranteeing that the organisation meets its revenue targets. At the end of the day, one can’t operate without cash. You can get wrapped up in the meticulousness of everyday operations without giving a second thought to what your cash flows are year after year.

While you have an obligation to serve the community, you can’t really operate well without being fiscally and financially independent. Preferring to run your nonprofit like a business venture can ensure that you have enough income to operate without making pointless expenses that might ruin your organisation.

nonprofit team stacking hands together

How to run your nonprofit organisation like a business?

To achieve social impact, nonprofits need to run and invest in the organisation just like a company does. What can you do to achieve your financial goals effectively?

Raise funds and match benefits

Fundraising is the lifeblood of any nonprofit organisation. When raising funds, one must think like a business owner. What will your donors benefit from donating a certain amount to your charity?

While donors give money out of goodwill, you need to show them proof, value, or some sort of gratitude that their donation means something. That value serves as the “product” you give to them – and it has to match your fundraising efforts. In short, treat donors as customers.

Network and collaborate like B2Bs

Nonprofits often stick to their communities or with other nonprofit organisations. But, it’s also important to network and collaborate with businesses and influential people to gain traction to your nonprofit.

If you’re a registered organisation, you can offer incentives like tax deduction to businesses that can help you. And if you have a portfolio of your work, you can showcase them to interested parties.

Focus on ROI

A business thinks about returns on investment (ROI) and make sure to spend the least amount of expenditures within a budget. Nonprofits shouldn’t only think about using a lot of resources, but the entirety of its existence, goals, and projects for at least three years.

When creating events or activities for your organisation, track and analyze strategies based on your ROIs. Don’t pursue something that you can’t easily spend on. If you want to continue your nonprofit, spend less and focus on building ROI.

Do marketing

Business owners understand the power of marketing – nonprofits should do so, too. Your organisation should have a solid brand image, marketing strategies, website, and social media presence to share your campaigns with.

Invest in quality technology and resources to help get your brand started. There are a lot of free tools to get your campaigns done such as:

  1. Canva (design)
  2. Hootsuite, Buffer, or Later (social media posting)
  3. Content management systems (WordPress, Wix, Squarespace for websites)
  4. Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels (graphics)
  5. Mailchimp (newsletters)

Sell products

While you are a nonprofit organisation, you can sell products as a fundraising activity for your operations. However, be transparent enough to let buyers know where the money goes. Products can be in the likes of books, bags, t-shirts, and other kinds of merchandise.

If you don’t have resources to create products, you can partner with a store, company, or individual artist for sale. You can agree to a certain percentage of proceeds that will go to the organisation.

team nonproft stack hands on meeting

Investments you need to do for a nonprofit organisation

If businesses can invest in their resources, nonprofits can too! The organisation can make a greater impact efficiently when creating value in mind with the current resources they have. Nonprofits can either add to these resources or hone the ones they already have. Here are the top resources you can make or improve.

Team members

Invest in your team to bring out their best potential as possible. How to make them more motivated? This involves bringing a positive corporate culture, enough workshops for team development, organisation benefits, and salaries.

Your team should feel valued and appreciated for them to become motivated. Investing in your team creates a positive output from them. That’s why it’s essential to look after them. Your team is the people moving to make a difference in your cause.

Marketing strategies

Create a solid marketing plan to drive resources to your organisation. And do you know how other nonprofits are winning the marketing game? They use the power of storytelling in their brand.

And where to channel this strategy? In marketing platforms such as websites, social media, and more. You can even integrate other marketing strategies to your organisations such as contests, raffles, events, newsletters, etc.

Long-term goals and ROI

Invest your efforts into long-term goals where ROI is maximized. Are you throwing five big events this year? Why not make four simple activities this year and throw one huge event on an important date?

That way, you get to focus on building long-term relationships with the community and how to get your nonprofit organisation going on through the years.


While nonprofits are driven by a noble cause, there’s nothing gallant about sacrificing your resources just for the sake of social responsibility. Sometimes, you need to think like a business to ensure the organisation’s continuation. As a nonprofit, it’s okay to reject “martyrdom” that limits the life of a nonprofit organisation. Not only has it burned out resources, but, with team members as well.

Are you looking for web design and digital marketing services that connect you with your community and donors? Find out how PurpleCow digital marketing can help you today.

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