Seven principles of success from one leader in two sectors

“I don’t want to be told my nonprofit should run like a business,” asserted my colleague. She and I were seated around a table with a half dozen other nonprofit leaders gathered to advise on the development of a training curriculum for nonprofit CEOs. The group was discussing the merits of corporate and nonprofit management topics. My friend bristled at the thought of her own nonprofit being ruled by profit rather than mission.

I distinctly recall her statement because I was shocked by it. Why wouldn’t anyone want to adapt what works in the corporate world and use it in the nonprofit sector?

Fast forward six years. As I reflect on that conversation today, I understand where she was coming from. It’s not only paramount to put the mission first; it’s what defines our organizations and separates us from corporations after the almighty buck. At the same time, our current financial pressures force us to depart from business as usual and innovate using cross-sector solutions.

What companies learn from us

Fortunately, we’ve seen both sectors look at one another and see value in what each has to offer. More companies are taking a look at how their products and services can make an impact through corporate social responsibility or perhaps how green their operations are. There are numerous examples today as compared to a mere six years ago when I sat at that table with my colleagues.

What we learn from companies

Equally important, nonprofit CEOs recognize they need to focus on innovative income strategies to complement their traditional fundraising. Why not adopt some of the earned revenue strategies or performance management techniques that work in the corporate sector as long as your board and staff preserve the mission?

A look inside a success formula in both sectors

Our new Page to Practice™ book feature of The NON Nonprofit is a rare look at seven principles of success developed and tested by a supremely successful corporate executive for General Mills and equally successful nonprofit CEO for an organization he founded called Twin Cities RISE!

Author Steve Rothschild held both of these positions and put great effort into testing these key principles personally as well as identifying nonprofits in the sector that demonstrate their applications. I was excited to feature this book because Rothschild has had a foot in both worlds and come out on the other end to tell us about his successes and hiccups along the way.

I would love to hear your feedback about his seven principles if you read the book or download the summary. Another question for you, “Do you currently apply strategies that would be considered relevant in the corporate world?” If so, tell us about it.

See also:

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability

2 responses to “Seven principles of success from one leader in two sectors”

  1. Thanks, CausePlanet, for your leadership in featuring and sharing essential topics like this one. The sustainability of the nonprofit effort depends on how successful we are adopting what works and adapting it to our missions.

  2. Denise says:

    Thanks, Matt. We agree and are very excited about this book. Interested to hear what our readers have to say about Rothschild’s principles and their relevance to mission-driven orgs. You are a shining example at and how you apply cross-sector strategies.

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