Nonprofit Success Secrets from Master Entrepreneurs

3 Ways to Lead Your Nonprofit like Champions of Business & Social Enterprise

Starting a nonprofit is hard. Running a successful nonprofit is a monumental undertaking that requires immense effort, passion, and skill. You can want to make our world a better place, have a brilliant idea for doing so, work your face off for your nonprofit… and fail miserably.

Philanthropy of nonprofits and charitable giving in the digital space
Emergent Digital was created to spur nonprofit success online.

The nonprofit sector is not an easy one to master, and the world of social enterprise is filled stories of well-intentioned professionals who gave their all for a noble cause that didn’t succeed.

We’re not trying to dissuade you from pursuing your passion. On the contrary, helping social entrepreneurs and their nonprofits thrive online is the reason we started this digital marketing agency in the first place! However, we know the many challenges you face and the long road in front of you. Do you want to make an impact for social good with your nonprofit? Do you really want to live and breathe for a cause and make a difference in our world?

Then get ready to learn from the best.

Elon Musk – The Visionary Polymath Changing our Future

Elon Musk is changing the world and shaping the future of mankind one multi-billion dollar company at a time. While the hyper-successful innovator isn’t known for his accomplishments in the nonprofit sector, he is making a social impact like few have ever done before. Musk’s most successful enterprises are forward-thinking, game-changing endeavors making our world a better place to live.

Tesla Motors has ushered in the golden age of the electric vehicle, promoting the use of clean, renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint on a massive scale. SolarCity has drastically increased the use of renewable solar power across the United States, reducing our impact on the environment and saving homeowners huge amounts of money on utility costs. SpaceX has forever changed the aeronautics industry and refueled our fascination with space exploration.

So what sets Elon Musk apart from other titans of business?

Secret 1: Learning and Applying Diverse Fields of Interest

Have you ever heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”? It’s a myth.

Astoundingly, the three trailblazing and most successful companies founded by Musk are all in different industries: transportation, energy, and aerospace. Elon Musk also founded PayPal, OpenAI, and Hyperloop, all of which make a difference for individuals across the globe yet rose to prosperity in different sectors of business. While Musk has a legendary work ethic and visionary ambition, his love of learning, fascination with many topics, and ability to apply specialized knowledge across many varied industries is critical to his success.

So how can you use this secret of social enterprise for your nonprofit? No matter what your cause may be, there are undoubtedly several subjects involved. Running an after-school enrichment program involves (at the very least) education, communication, delegation, finance, and marketing. While you don’t need to become an expert in each area of expertise, understanding the basics of every subject involved in running your successful nonprofit will take you far.

Oprah Winfrey – Queen of Media, Philanthropy, & Charisma

Oprah Social Enterprise Nonprofit
Oprah Winfrey, inspirational entrepreneur and charitable philanthropist.

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful women in the world, maintaining a peerless level of influence on culture and lifestyle for decades. Resilient, inspirational, and irresistibly charming, Oprah rose to the heights of prominence from a hard childhood of poverty and abuse. She took these hardships and molded a collaborative character, a caring demeanor that made her universally popular with viewers and a force majeure in mainstream media. A beloved actress, television personality, and social entrepreneur in control of her own production company, Oprah made reading popular in America again with her legendary book club initiative. While talk shows went sleazy, shocking, and shameful in the 90’s, the Oprah Winfrey Show was all class.

While Oprah earned fame and fortune in popular media, her influence on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector can’t be overstated. She has been a beacon of charitable giving and social good in recent years, donating $400 Million to educational programs, $12 Million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History, and $10 Million of her own money in relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. She has been an influential figure on a global scale for years and has done it all with flawless grace and humility.

Secret 2: Inspire Others, Offer Help, and Trust the People Around You

This secret to nonprofit success will make or break many social entrepreneurs in their career. After all, this nonprofit is your dream, your passion, your very life… how can you take the time out of your busy schedule to inspire and help colleagues or trust your passion to others?

The short answer is: if you don’t, you’ll be doomed to failure.

Social enterprise and nonprofit organizations seek to do good in the world, to bring out the best in humanity. In order to do this, you must inspire your employees, volunteers, and donors with your passion and sincerity. You must also have a team you trust to do good themselves, even when you’re not looking.

Oprah is famous for being helpful to anyone she meets. She inspires hope and brings out the best in her colleagues, employees, so many guests on her TV show. When asked about her key to success and inspiration in business:

“What really mattered to me about creating a network was having a platform where I could connect ideas that let people see the best of themselves through the lives of other people.”

-Oprah Winfrey

Connect with others through your social enterprise, be interested in their lives and how your mission can help them fulfill their own dreams. Always look for ways to work together and collaborate with the people you meet along the way. Furthermore, choose your team wisely and then let them lift your nonprofit, your passion, your life to great new heights.

Bill Gates – What the Richest Man in the World Values Most

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Nonprofit
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private institution for social good in the world.

Bill Gates was not an easy boss to have. His tremendous work ethic is well-storied, as were the heavy demands he placed on his employees for excellence. Bill Gates is famous as a technology pioneer and the founder of Microsoft, a highly skilled businessman and expert negotiator, a man of social impact, a humanitarian, a philanthropist without equal. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private institution in the world, enhancing healthcare, reducing poverty, and improving education across the globe. However, he was a legendary hardass in the office who at times drew the ire and contempt of his employees.

How can one man be such a force for social good in the nonprofit sector, yet seem like such a tyrant to his own colleagues, the team that propelled Microsoft to unparalleled success?

Secret 3: Your Training, Team, and Talent are Important above all

Bill Gates may have earned a reputation as a tyrannical boss in his years at Microsoft, but he also gained a renowned reputation for getting the most out of his team and developing talent that would stay within the company for years. Even if Gates was sometimes rough on the surface, he cared more for the talent around him than any profit margin. The most successful entrepreneur in history placed the value of his mentorship and training high-quality human beings above all else.

If you are building a nonprofit from the ground up or commanding the workforce of a Fortune 500 company, the principle is the same: an organization is only as good as the people within it. While you must hire the right employees and reach out to the right supporters of social enterprise, it is the cultivation of these relationships and development of talent that will make or break your envoy in the nonprofit sector.

We want to hear about your role models in social business and the nonprofit sector! Leave a comment and tell us why they succeed, their own secret of success.

Do you know someone who’s starting a nonprofit and needs to learn these secrets? Tag and share this with them… they may thank you someday.

Posted in: Business, Nonprofits, Social Enterprise, Social Good