The Four Pillars of Successful Nonprofit Leadership: Passion

The Four Pillars of Successful Nonprofit Leadership: Passion

With the Winter Olympics here, it is hard not to marvel at the feats of the various athletes who travel far and wide to compete. Beautifully executed figure skating routines, incredible teamwork in ice hockey, and unbelievable control in freestyle skiing all seem too good to be true. How did these athletes accomplish these incredible acts of athleticism? What got them through countless hours of practice and years of sacrifice? One word: passion.

In my book, A Guide to Achieving New Heights: The Four Pillars of Successful Nonprofit Leadership, I identify passion as the second pillar of leadership. Any nonprofit employee knows that without passion, those late nights and stressful fundraising efforts would be impossible to endure. It’s passion for what you do that gets you through.

Whether you have recently founded your nonprofit and are in over your head with administration responsibilities or you’re tasked with running an age-old company, it is important to know your organization’s purpose. Branching out in too many directions or spending your day planning for the next board meeting pushes your organization further from its purpose—and can strip you of your passion. The further you are from your organization’s reason for existence, the closer you get to disaster.

If you feel your organization has lost its focus, do not panic. Start the road to recovery by asking yourself this simple question:

What would happen if your organization didn’t exist?

It’s such a powerful question, but the answer is the key to ensuring your organization is on the right path. If your answer does not align with your original mission, that’s ok—just be sure to articulate, communicate, and execute the changes. Reexamining your mission involves focusing on your nonprofit organization’s outcomes and impact in the community.

Now that you know your reason for existence, there are still a few more steps you need to take to truly embrace the second leadership pillar, passion:

  1. Accentuate the Positive

You don’t need an award in your office to know that your organization has achieved great things since it was founded. Now is the time to examine any and all achievements to help you realize your organization’s strengths.

  1. Communication is Key

After completing step one, you’ve probably realized your organization has accomplished quite a bit. Don’t keep this news to yourself—share your achievements with the tam, stakeholders, and at fundraising events.

  1. Measure Your Value

What’s your stock value? Yes, you are a nonprofit and therefore are not publicly traded, but you still have a stock value. Your achievements, your communication strategy, and the satisfaction of your board members (and their communication about said satisfaction) are just a few of the things that contribute to your stock value. After spending so much time reexamining your mission and communicating your achievements, it’s time to determine how best to measure your value within your community.

For a closer look at how you can reexamine your organization’s mission and reclaim your passion, read my book A Guide to Achieving New Heights: The Four Pillars of Successful Nonprofit Leadership.


DCM Associates specializes in executive search projects representing a wide variety of industries for national, regional, or local nonprofit organizations, including independent and higher education, healthcare, and community building and social impact organizations. Learn more about The Nonprofit Search Group today and contact us to help keep passion a major influence in your executive search process and within your overall nonprofit organization.