Nonprofit organizations are an extension of the passions of its board members, volunteers, and employees. As a result, there are nonprofits that serve a large swath of social needs from healthcare, to housing, houses of faith, children and youth, animal rights, and so much more. The humble beginnings of nonprofits are just as varied as their service areas, but it is commonly known that nonprofits typically receive their start-up funding from traditional sources – grants, donations, and fundraisers. Unfortunately, a large number of nonprofit organizations and limited resources that are made available in the United States makes accessing these traditional sources of funding very challenging. Consequently, the competitive nature of accessing these resources begs the question "how will nonprofits survive in this competitive environment and sustain current and future program operations?"
A sustainable nonprofit organization thinks about how to generate new unrestricted revenue to maintain their programs. They support their programs through earned income strategies that are directly connected to the social mission of the nonprofit. Traditional sources of revenue such as grants, donations, and fundraisers are important to supporting a nonprofit; however, there is a need for nonprofits to explore their potential to earn income independent of these traditional sources. How is this done? What does it look like? What steps need to be taken toward this change? The foundational steps to becoming sustainable include a continuous relationship between:
- Organizational Leadership: Influencing an entire organization to adopt sustainability as a cultural norm.
- Self-Leadership: Raising individual consciousness about the necessity of self-leadership prior to leading others toward organizational sustainability.
- Renewable Resources: Engaging in sustainable activities to create an economic ecosystem through which your organization can survive and thrive.
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