in Companies, Nonprofits, Tips & Tools

What For-profits Can Learn from Nonprofits

Consumers around the world are demanding corporate social responsibility from the companies whose products or services they purchase. According to the 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CRS Study, 91% of consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause and only 7% think it’s enough for companies to engage in issues through cash, product or service donations.
Today, customers expect accountability and progress on social and environmental initiatives not only from nonprofits but corporations as well. Both sectors are expected to have an impact and to help make the world a better place. Nonprofits have developed approaches and skills that have allowed them to be successful in a very competitive landscape and that for-profits could benefit from as well.
Here are the key areas where we believe for-profit enterprises can learn from nonprofits:
Compelling Mission: Internal Benefits
At the end of the day most people want to do work that really matters. Working for a nonprofit is incredibly rewarding because the organization has meaning built into its mission. Nonprofits naturally attract passionate individuals drawn to the mission of the organization. Millennials, the rising generation in the workforce, want to be inspired beyond money, just as those traditionally in the nonprofit world. Tapping into that pool of talent going forward will require a level of meaning whether the enterprise is a for- or nonprofit.
Compelling Mission: External Benefits
At successful nonprofits passion and purpose go hand in hand. Nonprofits devote a great deal of thought to defining their organization’s mission. That mission creates loyalty by building an emotional connection with customers and stakeholders. Giving customers a chance to connect with the company is something that would build loyalty in a for-profit enterprise as well. For- and nonprofit enterprises want engaged communities that believe in the mission and the product/service, and will advocate for the brand.
Relationship Building
Nonprofits have to work harder than for-profits to generate revenue, especially to support their operations. While most nonprofits rely on donations from individuals, foundations or corporations, there is a lot of competition out there. The work requires a lot of cold calls, solicitations and meetings to get to a yes. Learning to cultivate relationships over many years and through many rejections is crucial to any success for a nonprofit. A similar focus on building relationships would benefit the corporate world.
Nonprofits tend to be more financially conscious than most business enterprises, working to do more with less. Having a set amount of money unless more is raised requires organizations to think about how to spend that money and to handle budget windfalls. Nonprofits have adapted to learn how to succeed with limited resources.
Each week, we’ll go into more detail about each of these key areas in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

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