Are nonprofits unique?



This post is by Jacqueline M. Tiso founder and CEO of JMT Consulting Group. She is a frequent speaker and writer on technology, accounting, best practices and nonprofits. If you would like to have her speak to your group please contact

Are non-profits unique?

Working exclusively with non-profits, I hear every day from clients how unique their organization is and I agree. Non-profits are unique. You are unique in the “product” and services you deliver, in the “customers” you serve, in the revenues you raise, in the systems you use, the list goes on and on.

Given that uniqueness, how does it translate to the tools you need to achieve your mission? My husband is in construction and one of the most frequent points he makes is the importance of hiring the right contractor and using the right tool. For example, if your drain was clogged, you would not call a carpenter, but a plumber. And whether you were a do-it-yourself or hired the plumber, you would not fix a drain using a hammer. While a hammer is an excellent tool for driving a nail, a wrench is what is needed to fix a drain.

There are endless examples that reinforce this principle. Unfortunately, I only came to understand this principle through the painful process of experiencing it firsthand early in my career working within a few non-profit organizations. Unknowingly, I would contract with firms who had limited understanding of the unique needs of my organization and we paid the price.

It was from this experience that JMT was born.

As technology consultants working exclusively with non-profits, we understand what the reality is of how unique non-profits are and the powerful impact implementing and using the right software solution can have to your organization. Because non-profits are unique, you will be best served using software tools and services that have been specifically designed to meet those unique needs.

Firms experienced in for-profit projects using commercial, for-profit software can certainly implement a system, but will your project be implemented as efficiently and effectively as your organization needs? And will the tool have the functionality you need without your departments having to jump through a bunch of hoops?

Be cautious of spending your valuable funding on a carpenter using a hammer. Remember, a slow leak usually ends up being much more costly in the end than bringing in a professional right from the start.

CATEGORIES: Best Practices