5 Cliches About Nonprofits You Should Avoid

5 Cliches About Nonprofits You Should Avoid

In looking ahead and planning for a brighter future, nonprofit organizations must shift perspective and adjust their strategies for success to remain inclusive and thrive in the current market. Direct communication, transparency, and expanding practice approaches are necessary for continued growth and mission achievement. The coronavirus pandemic shone a spotlight on the pervasive racism and health and economic disparities present in our society. It also provides a unique opportunity to reevaluate and improve. Out with the old and in with the new as they say, and necessary adjustments can be made by avoiding the following cliches: 


While this is a necessary focus in business, the shift needs to adapt and implement new systems and adjustments. The change lies in the focus of organizations, not on what can remain the same but on what needs to be changed. This new era of business will require ongoing tweaking and reevaluations. Having adaptable action plans lead to an organization’s sustainable success and growth, but the focus must shift, and change must be embraced for the duration. Sustainability is needed, but innovation remains critical. 

Strategic partnerships” 

While partnerships are the supporting structure for nonprofit organizations, the focus needs to be on the overall impact and the integrity of the relationships involved. In their article, A Turning Point, Eden Stiffman and Jim Rendon explore how some nonprofits are finding equitable and inclusive ways to navigate shrinking resources in the age of coronavirus (Chronicle of Philanthropy, no paywall). The key, again, is innovation. Reassessing the strengths and needs of your organization as well as of your partnerships is essential. With new eyes, new strategies can emerge, and even if partners remain steady, new lines of communication and innovative solutions will be essential. By remaining committed to the organization’s mission and values, partnerships can flourish, but rather than being strategic and in name only, the partnering can be earnest and mutually beneficial. 

Collective Impact and Consensus Building

While your nonprofit organization is one entity, the attitude of consensus-building should be approached with transparency and with listening first. An organization must consider the collective impact but never lose sight of the individual repercussions as well. This is a time where individual circumstances, skills, and influence must not be ignored, as this is where all the benefit from innovation and inclusion will come from. The consensus will be built with transparent communication and aligned passions.

Core competencies” 

Considering the current economy, focusing on core competencies will not make the cut. Donors and employees alike want to be seen and appreciated for their unique attributes. Each donor has a specific purpose and background, and each employee has unique skills and goals. Personalizing relationships and expectations will allow better relationship building and more clear opportunities. 


Technology and capability are necessary, but the focus should again remain on innovation and inclusion. Fundraising, employee relations, and vital interactions will be accomplished using technology. Remaining open to new ideas and considerations will allow organizations to continue to thrive in this ever-changing landscape. Perhaps the tools are not present, and new sources must be sought out; again, innovation and inclusion are essential. Rather than looking in the same places or using the same methods, embrace a new approach, include a new idea. Nonprofit organizations in 2022 need to meet this new era head-on by embracing the new, appreciating the diversity available, and providing an inclusive arena where ideas and innovations are welcomed and explored. The old way of doing things is just that, the old way. 

The nonprofit sector has long made mistakes by not including people who are affected by issues in the conversations about how to address those issues at the core. This is an opportunity to end that old way of thinking and embrace the new, innovative, inclusive future of nonprofit business. 2022 provides a unique opportunity to continue learning and adapt, surround ourselves with people whose areas of knowledge are different from our own, change course when necessary, and reevaluate how we successfully achieve our mission and goals together. 


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