Can non-profit organizations learn anything from the corporate world?

Can non-profit organizations learn anything from the corporate world?

Jené Kapela Good stuff for nonprofits

Can non-profit organizations learn anything from the corporate world?Non-profit organizations are not traditional businesses with traditional business goals. We can all agree on this. What I’ve found people don’t agree on is whether or not non-profits can learn anything from the business world.

While there are a few key factors that differentiate non-profits from the business sector, these organizations actually have a lot in common. And non-profits would be more successful in they could learn to operate in a more businesslike manner.

Non-profits actually have a lot in common with business.

Just like any company, non-profit organizations need to be run well and deliver value in order to succeed. They are not revenue driven just for the sake of making money, but they still need to make enough money to effectively run their programs and deliver their services. They aren’t accountable to shareholders, but they have to be accountable to their donors, sponsors, and clients. They measure success differently than the business sector, but they still need to measure whether or not they are accomplishing what they set out to do.

What I’ve learned is…

The most successful non-profit organizations understand the importance of operating in a businesslike manner. They have operational processes that are intentional and efficient, they have a clear revenue plan, they track and measure results, and they hold themselves accountable for achieving specific outcomes. These organizations are transparent about the work they do, and their branding efforts are deliberate and strategically aligned with their missions. These things matter!

Non-profits should look to the corporate world for lessons that can be learned and applied in their own organizations. Instead of asking: Can we learn anything? The right question to ask is: What can we learn?

Jene Kapela, Ed.D.

Do you want your non-profit organization to become more effective and efficient? Contact Jene at

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