Established nonprofit organizations play a vital role in addressing social issues, driving positive change, and enriching communities. However, even organizations with a long history of impact must continue to evolve, adapt, and innovate to remain effective and relevant in a rapidly changing world. In this article, we explore the seven stages of development that established nonprofits often navigate as they strive for excellence in advancing their mission and serving their constituents. 

1. Strategy, Marketing, and Technological Planning

The journey towards nonprofit growth begins with strategy, marketing, and technological planning. Established nonprofits must periodically review and update their strategic plans to ensure alignment with their mission, vision, and goals. This includes assessing market trends, analyzing donor behavior, and leveraging new technology to enhance operations and communication. 

2. Reviewal of Values, Mission, and Beliefs

Core values, mission, and beliefs serve as the foundation of every nonprofit organization. Established nonprofits periodically review and reaffirm their values, mission, and beliefs to ensure alignment with their evolving priorities, community needs, and societal trends. This process involves engaging stakeholders, soliciting feedback, and reflecting on the organization’s purpose and impact. 

This stage requires some introspection to ensure an organization’s continued effectiveness and relevance in their community.  

Core Values

The principles for which your organization stands for. These values serve as the moral compass, shaping how the nonprofit operates, interacts with stakeholders, and pursues its mission. 

Review Process: 

  • Assess whether the current values align with the organization’s purpose and community context. 
  • Consider whether any adjustments or additions are necessary due to new priorities or societal changes.  

Mission Statement

Describes the organization’s purpose, the impact it aims to create, and the beneficiaries it serves.  

Review Process: 

  • Evaluate whether the existing mission statement accurately reflects the organization’s current work. 
  • Consider if adjustments are needed to better align with new community needs or emerging challenges. 

Beliefs and Organizational Culture

The collective behaviors, norms, and shared values that shape the nonprofit’s work environment. These showcase how the organization operates, treats people, and achieves its goals. 

Review Process:  

  • Reflect on the current culture within the organization.  
  • Consider whether the current culture supports or hinders the achievement of the mission. 
  • Regularly request feedback from staff, volunteers, and board members to identify areas for improvement. 

3. Growth and Expansion

As established organizations grow and expand their impact, they must navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with scaling their programs and services. This may involve expanding into new geographic areas, reaching underserved populations, or diversifying revenue streams. Strategic planning, resource allocation, and partnership development are essential for successful nonprofit growth and expansion.

4. Development of New Programs Based on Community Needs

Community needs are dynamic and ever-changing, requiring established nonprofits to continually assess and respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. Developing new programs and initiatives that address community needs effectively requires careful research, collaboration with stakeholders, and alignment with organizational priorities and resources. 

Embarking on the journey of developing new programs can be daunting. Not sure where to even start? Consider the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance’s Designing Nonprofit Programs Certificate Training. This series is divided into four parts, each addressing a crucial aspect of program development: 

Do We Need a New Program? (Part 1):

  • Explore the essential criteria for identifying gaps in existing services or opportunities for innovation. It’s about assessing community needs, understanding where your organization can make a meaningful impact, and recognizing when a new program is warranted. 

What Difference Will the Program Make? (Part 2):

  • Once you’ve identified a potential program, it’s time to delve deeper. Part 2 focuses on defining program outcomes, impact metrics, and success indicators. By clarifying the intended difference your program will make, you set the stage for effective planning and evaluation. 

How Will We Pay for This Program? (Part 3):

  • Sustainable funding is essential for program longevity. In this segment, learn strategies for financial sustainability, explore grant opportunities, and consider creative revenue models. Whether it’s donor support, grants, or earned income, understanding the financial landscape is key. 

What Is Our Plan for Success? (Part 4):

  • Success doesn’t happen by chance, create a robust implementation plan. From project management to stakeholder engagement, you’ll learn how to turn vision into action. Remember, a well-executed plan is the bridge between intention and impact. 

5. Evaluation of Work

Evaluation is critical for assessing the effectiveness and impact of nonprofit programs and initiatives. Established nonprofits conduct regular evaluations to measure outcomes, identify strengths and weaknesses, and inform decision-making. This may involve collecting data, analyzing performance metrics, and soliciting feedback from beneficiaries, donors, and other stakeholders.

6. Review of Current Policy to Keep Up with the Times

Nonprofit organizations operate in a complex regulatory environment that changes over time. Established nonprofits must review and update their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with legal requirements, best practices, and emerging trends. This includes reviewing governance policies, financial management practices, and risk management protocols. 

7. Partnering Versus Duplicating Services

Collaboration and partnership are essential for maximizing impact and avoiding duplication of efforts within the nonprofit sector. Established nonprofits assess opportunities for collaboration with other organizations, government agencies, and community stakeholders to leverage resources, share expertise, and amplify their collective impact. This may involve forming strategic alliances, co-designing programs, or sharing infrastructure and resources. 

The journey towards excellence for established nonprofit organizations is characterized by strategic planning, alignment with values and mission, growth and expansion, responsiveness to community needs, evaluation of work, compliance with policy, and collaboration with partners. By navigating these seven stages of development thoughtfully and intentionally, established nonprofits can continue to thrive, innovate, and make a lasting difference in the world. 

About the Author: Michael Ash, DBA, MA, ACNP, PCM, PMP

Michael Ash is a seasoned marketing and nonprofit professional with over 15 years of experience. He completed his DBA in Organizational Leadership and Development researching Appalachian nonprofits, psychological contracts, and retention. Michael also holds an undergraduate degree in advertising, public relations, and graphic design and a graduate degree in wellness promotion from Morehead State UniversityHolding credentials as an Advanced Certified Nonprofit Professional, Professional Certified Marketing, and Project Management Professional, Michael passion for continued growth and development is evident. His expertise includes public relations, advertising, fundraising, social media, recruitment, retention, event development, leadership development, and community engagement. In his free time, Michael enjoys nature, reading, gaming, knitting, and spending time with his dogs, Zeke and Zeus. 


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Strategic Nonprofit Growth: Navigating the 7 Stages

July 2, 2024|0 Comments

Established nonprofit organizations play a vital role in addressing social issues, driving positive change, and enriching communities. However, even organizations with a long history of impact must continue to evolve, adapt, and innovate to remain