I once heard a lecturer propose that the biggest impediment to supplies reaching their destination in a storm-ravaged region or an impoverished nation was not the lack of supplies but the lack of suitable infrastructure – roads, pipes, power lines.

Listening to the thought-provoking conversations at a recent conference for not-for-profit leaders, I was struck by the fact that these discussions rarely focus on organisational infrastructure in not-for-profit organisations.

And this is the case even though each executive in the room knows how important infrastructure is. They know how necessary a strong infrastructure is to support the important work that not-for-profits need to do every day.

It’s important to plan, build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to withstand and adjust to the constant changes your organisation faces. Good infrastructure enables your organisation to not just survive, but thrive during any climate situation and in any market.

It starts with injecting your organisation with a culture of continuous performance improvement. This can be described as the incremental, step-by-step improvement of everything an organisation does, focused on the following areas.

1. Increased support for mission

You can increase the support for and donations to your cause with these strategies: recruiting, attracting and effectively onboarding new supporters; retaining and growing existing supporters for longer timeframes; expanding the visibility of the organisation, mission or purpose; attracting more supporters from underserved groups (younger, international, rural, etc); and delivering personalised communications and experiences for different donor/supporter personas.

2. Demonstrated outcomes

Achieve your mission with increased adherence to the principles of transparency, objectivity, impartiality and fairness. Become an organisation that guides the profession to provide the public with safe, ethical, quality care at the highest standards.

3. Delivering more support or services per dollar

Your not-for-profit can increase efficiencies by: increasing staff productivity, morale, time management and length of employment; automation of business processes and communications; targeted marketing; simplifying internal systems and processes; and staff development training to improve and develop new or enhanced skills.

4. Strengthening stewardship

You can reduce risk through ensuring data integrity and delivering timely, complete and reliable reporting. Create a security-forward organisation by implementing best practices to consistently meet or exceed the highest level of data security and privacy standards. Ensure that you always maintain reliable, sustainable, accessible and economical technologies, and upgrade when necessary. As always, measure and review your efforts to ensure that you are on track.

How is your infrastructure?

Do you have a written plan to continuously improve your infrastructure? If not, now is the time.

Suggested reading: The Not-for-Profit Executive’s Guide to Improving Organisational Performance. Request the book at advsol.com/fpimprove. 

Paul Ramsbottom

Paul is Managing Director at ASI (Asia-Pacific), the company behind the iMIS Engagement Management System (EMS). With a career exclusively in the not-for-profit sector, he’s passionate about helping not-for-profits and associations reach their goals and improve performance through adopting new and innovative solutions.