Think Selfishly: The Unexpected Key to Nonprofit Success

Andrew VaethNonprofit Collaboration, Nonprofit Tools


I recently met with a newer client in the Cureo community: a nonprofit that provides mental health and recovery services. Like so many nonprofit organizations, they operate with a staff of 20, a board of 15, subcommittees, quarterly fundraisers, hundreds of clients in the system, hundreds of donors, and multiple locations. It’s way too much to manage on far too few resources. Sound familiar?

Like many others, the team is likely underpaid, overworked, and primarily driven by their belief in the mission. So what can be done to minimize the noise of app overload, scheduling, informing, inquiring, sharing, and collaborating? Especially when those tasks create confusion or add no value to the mission…

For our client, everything culminated in endless waves of email storms, also known as a “reply apocalypse!” But there’s a better way to manage the many internal and external constituents—and in doing so, maximize your team’s (and volunteers’) ability to focus in on the mission.

Think Selfishly

Make it easy for all constituents to engage, stay informed, be productive and add to the mission without endless emails. Eliminate the noise that prevents creativity, saps energy, and burns out key volunteers and team members, all by thinking selfishly.

Our client learned to think a little selfishly by focusing on their internal needs, adopting Cureo to make it easier for everyone to collaborate and consume on their own terms. Most importantly, this was achieved without forcing outside constituents to learn a cumbersome software platform.

Related: Nonprofit Boards: The Inside Out Conundrum

Selfless Selfishness

Selfishness is generally the antithesis of a nonprofit’s stated mission. However, when it comes to filtering out the friction that impedes the success of your mission, you may want to consider being a little “selflessly selfish” and focusing on internal organization. Ways to do so include the following:

  • Hone in on the core mission. If it’s not related, it’s not going to be a priority for your team.
  • Tie up to the greater cause, then ask for partnership and resources. Does your organization eradicate hunger? How does that play a part in keeping kids at school, empowering education, and therefore eradicating the vicious cycle of poverty? There are dozens of doors that can open (with partnerships, resources, etc.) if you make the ask.
  • Tap into skillsets of your team and volunteer base. Have a team of young marketer volunteers? Ask them to lead efforts for your next event. They’ll likely love the opportunity, and your team lessens tasks on their plate.
  • Support one of your most important resources (team, volunteer base, board, partners) with the latest in collaboration and communications solutions. Many think a nonprofit can’t afford this technology, but that’s not the case. Your constituents will thank you!

By thinking selfishly, you turn down the noise for everyone involved. It’s possible. It worked for our client.