Top 4 Business Lessons We Can Learn From Non-Profits

Top 4 Business Lessons We Can Learn From Non-Profits

Often non-profits are encouraged to look at the business models of private organisations and use these to create their own business strategy. When stepping back to consider how non-profits operate, there are a number of key lessons which can be taken away from their business decisions. When profit is not a driving factor, but fundraising is , business strategies will certainly differ. If you’re wondering what some of the most important lessons we can learn from non-profits are, see below for the top four. 

1. Invest in marketing

When it comes to having limited funds to invest, one area that always gets a priority within non-profits is marketing. Without marketing, there are no donations, therefore it is considered an essential component to success. Businesses can learn from non-profits, as even when times are tough, they understand that marketing is crucial for successful conversions. Without awareness of your products and a positive reputation, it will be difficult to convert to sales.


2. Appreciate all key stakeholders

One key action that we can learn from non-profits is their tendency to show great appreciation for key stakeholders. Much of the work wouldn’t be possible without the help of others including suppliers, supporters and employees. While sales-driven businesses can afford to pay more for wages and associated services, this does not mean appreciation can be overlooked. Praise and gratitude go a long way in all sectors, and often result in more positive relationships across the organisation.



3. Credibility is essential

As all good non-profits know and understand, credibility is difficult to establish, and very important to maintain. In every business, trust must be built with all stakeholders – in particular with customers. Ethical operation is critical to the credibility of all non-profits, and this lesson should stand true for all other sectors. A credible organisation which is known for its positive qualities is easier to sell, and can have a great impact on key objectives. It is also useful when times are tough, and can be the saving factor for many businesses during difficult times.



4.  Tell a story

One thing non-profits do best is storytelling – they paint a picture of their brand, mission and values exceptionally well. A strong story not only attracts supporters, it also raises awareness of the organisation, its goals and its resources. In a way, it is the non-profit equivalent of a sales pitch, which looks to make an impact on all who come across it. Every business should learn from non-profits and seek to create their own story. It can assist in generating public interest in your brand, increase media coverage, as well as contributing to your credibility and reputation.  



What do you think?

Can you think of any other business lessons that we can learn from non-profits to add to this list? My research indicated that these are just four of many that exist. I’d love to hear from those of you who have worked for both non-profit and private organisations, and who can share their experiences with the AIB community. 

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. 


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