Ten Traits of a Great Nonprofit

Hal, Kenny and Seth with their special cigars

This is a picture of Hal, a member of my board, Kenny, our fabulous caddy for the day and Seth, my husband, on the golf course earlier this summer.  It was a lot of great laughs, Cuban cigars and an all around fun day for all of us.  I am following my list below and in particular, #7.

I love lists.  They are easy to read and easy to write.

Fred Wilson wrote a post the other day with a list of ten characteristics of a great company.  Read it and you will see that the thinking behind this list could be the same driving force behind a great nonprofit.

We are talking a lot about how Queens Council on the Arts can work with emerging nonprofit arts groups to become great and will be rolling out some exciting opportunities over the next few months.  I always seem to find myself reading venture capitalist blogs for insights and Fred’s list catalyzed my thinking.

Here is my response to his post:

hi fred
i am always thinking about what makes a nonprofit organization great and here is my list of ten traits:

1. a great nonprofit questions every move it makes by asking “how does this move our mission forward?”

2. a great nonprofit builds niche services, never duplicates

3. a great nonprofit can scale successfully providing maximum impact with minimal overhead

4. a great nonprofit staff uses the pronouns “we and us”

5. a great nonprofit leader is a presence but works as an connector, aggregator and curator of creative energy

6. a great nonprofit treats everyone as a potential partner

7.  a great nonprofit hangs out with great people!  See photo above.

8.  a great nonprofit board loves to succeed together and bring in like spirited folk

9.  a great nonprofit defines what success means with compelling data that is transparent

10. a great nonprofit is a creative consensus

a list is a great place to start thinking about how to be even better at what we do.

thanks for riding the f train.

hoong yee

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