The Business of Nonprofit Organizations: Need, Data & Outcomes

The Business of Nonprofit Organizations: Need, Data & Outcomes

In structuring nonprofit organizations for startups, and in the restructuring of existing nonprofit organizations, I'm finding that some of the root structural components are not being analyzed thoroughly. Startup nonprofit organization boards and executive directors are jumping directly into marketing and hiring grant writers after filing the 501c3 status. While the existing nonprofit organizations are changing the culture of the company with every grant or funding opportunity received. These unorganized and irrational means of operating a nonprofit organization leave all levels of the business in extreme limbo. A limbo that staff, managers, volunteers and stakeholders can not change with the shake of their hips.

Therefore, lets take it back to the foundation that all nonprofit organizations should be built on: Need, Data and Outcomes .

Nonprofit Need

Unlike the for-profits that our entrepreneurs have already established, we find that establishing a need beyond an idea, passion or even a personal purpose can be a struggle when designing the new Nonprofit Venture. Determining a need in the nonprofit space is just as critical as locating a product people will consume above the required amount in the for-profit space. A need is established by finding an area of concern, problem or unresolved issue within a community, however, for the purpose of a charitable organization, we are building to serve a vulnerable population.

This is done by first having passion for a heart throbbing problem. Then locating data, research and reports that present proof of the problem your organization will solve. This data can be collected by assessments and evaluations conducted amongst those you serve, the community you’ll work out of and even existing organizations that offer services around your companies purpose. Lastly, you create a needs statement that is necessary to establish the credibility, problem and areas of solution for the nonprofit.

Fundraisers, grants and new projects require this information in order for proper analysis of the companies vision/mission as well as the President/Founders passion. All ideas do not prove themselves necessary in the solving of a problem. Therefore, all ideas do not need to be formulated into a business without proof of a need. This is why we recommend entrepreneurs present 10-15 ideas and we evaluate which ideas meet a value added and economic change to the population as well as community they wish to serve. Required letters of intent for grants and contractual programs, evaluation tools for programs and projects as well as assessment tools can be created for your business once you have justified the need you’re trying to solve.

Some say that nonprofits would not exist if they actually solved problems. I say that my country operates off of the principles of capitalism, therefore there will always be problems to solve.

Nonprofit Data

The areas in which organizations should pull monthly, quarterly and annual data should be in the areas of programs, operations, clients, communications, donor and funding data. When pulling data in these areas, executives have to train personnel on what actions to take because of their findings. Program data should reflect staff hours, financial input, resource input, curriculum evaluations and assessments, grants or funds measurements into each program, communications and marketing inputs into each program and all scheduled and unscheduled outputs from each program. This data helps paint the picture of weak points in programming as well as determining rather or not the organization is missing a need that requires a project. In the analyzing of data related to operations the executive team can determine the effected areas of company budgets and all components that affect it before a financial crisis. Knowing the data as it relates to the organizations clients helps to continue or build approaches that are working in marketing, advertising and outreach.

Communication, donor and funding data being pulled regularly helps organizations to stay ahead of trends, deadlines, correspondence, required outgoing reports and preparations for future presentation and funding. In addition to internal data reports and utilization, external reports should be pulled and analyzed quarterly and or annually such as: demographics, needs/assets, historical context, open government data, local and national research. Maintaining data related documents and databases to support your nonprofit provide breakaway means of establishing the culture of your business. A culture that operates from both the business and passion standpoints.

Data drives areas such as compliance, training and development, personnel retention, grant writing, public relations, marketing and much much more.

Nonprofit Outcomes

There are no nonprofit, charitable, foundation, trust or philanthropic arms that don't eventually need to provide proof of reaching outcomes. Establishing the positive consequences and knowing the negative consequences of your organization or project, provides a foundation for determining its ability to establish maximum impact. Impact in the nonprofit space is derived from an organizations ability to change the economics effects in the areas of a problem or community. Not only do we have to ensure that nonprofit organizations establish measurable outcomes, but that they are reached in order obtain maximum impact. I repeat, these obstacles are not just areas of concern for new-startup nonprofits; I can’t tell you how many large nonprofits are not meeting strategically set outcomes or making an impact that can be measured. Therefore, all charitable organizations, programs or projects of any kind must intentionally set their impact model and design products as well as programs that help move the meter closer to reaching the ultimate goal: Solving problems for a vulnerable population.

Need help in the areas of structure, development, operations and execution for your nonprofit organizations?


Marie Management is a consulting firm designed to build the following business models:

  • Hybrid Model Nonprofit: Adding a nonprofit to an existing for-profit business.
  • Hybrid Model For-Profit: Adding a for-profit to an existing nonprofit business.
  • Hybrid Model Brand: Building an entrepreneurs personal brand, for-profit and nonprofit collectively.

We specialize in hybrid models and love ensuring that entrepreneurs utilize excess profits for the purposes close to their hearts. Our entrepreneurs benefit greatly from having a firm that not only consults in both sectors, but manages in them as well.    

For immediate assistance in structuring, developing, operating and or executing your nonprofit organization, schedule your consultation here.

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