June 8, 2013

I recently read a nice little book called Focus on Sustainability: A Nonprofit’s Journey. (When I say “little,” I mean short and good. It’s a compliment!)

The book is authored by Dennis G. McMillian of Alaska’s Foraker Group. The Foraker Group is a nonprofit support organization that helps create strong nonprofits in Alaska. The Foraker Group does things like training, consulting, research, and so forth.

Foraker reminds us that sustainability is not just financial! In fact, the book notes that funding “may not be the most important element.”

Focus on Sustainability presents four interconnected factors that are “integral to a sustainable organization.” Focus. Right people. Partnerships. Unrestricted funds.

I like these four factors. Quoting from the book:

A sustainable organization can be identified through four lenses:

  1. Focus: A sustainable organization maintains a laser focus on its founding principles and exercises discipline based on those principles in all its strategic decisions. At the same time, a sustainable organization must look ahead and adapt for the future.
  2. Right people: A sustainable organization has the right people in the right roles. Specifically, it counts on the right board and staff, who work together effectively as partners.
  3. Partnerships: A sustainable organization increases its impact through partnerships with other organizations.
  4. Unrestricted funds: A sustainable organization maintains sufficient unrestricted funds to take advantage of opportunities and handle emergencies.

This book is actually short enough that you could expect all your staff to read it. You could even get some of your board members to read it.

Read the book. Just visit Amazon.

P.S. Foraker is a big mountain in Alaska…really big…the fourth highest peak in the United States…named after Ohio Senator Joseph B. Foraker, in 1899.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Get non-profit resources in your inbox