The participation of non-profit organizations in the growth of the industrial sector and in Western societies services has increased considerably in recent years.
Some of the social and economic issues arising in the context of sustainable development have already been experienced by this specific type of organizations.
However, in the field of Project Management, the scientific literature focused on project management in non-profit organizations seems to be poor.
In fact, it is difficult to find data and analysis factors on project management practices in the non-profit sector.
At the same time, it is true that, for the vast majority of these organizations, projects seem to be the fundamental way to develop its business.
Although project management principles, best practices and standards are applicable to a wide range of projects, there are differences between profit and non-profit projects.
Companies and organizations must therefore adapt these elements to their projects and to their specific sector.
Let’s see today how to manage a non-profit project.
- What exactly are non-profit organizations
- Differences between non-profit project and profit projects
Is the management of the non-profit project different?
- Similarities between a non-profit project and a profit project
- On which aspects should you particularly focus when managing a non-profit project?
What exactly are non-profit organizations
The term “non-profit organization, entity or association” is a word that is part of the language we use every day.
This type of organizations are part of the Third Sector, and have the peculiarity of having solidaristic goals and try to reach their mission without profit. Basically, they fill the gaps of a State that is not always able to provide the right social support or the right contribution to cultural welfare, etc. …
In Italy, non-profit companies have increased exponentially in recent years, leading to a real reform of the third sector.
Differences between non-profit project and profit projects
Is the management of the non-profit project different?
It is not that the management of the non-profit project is different from the management of the for-profit project, but it is the organizational context which is extremely different.
Project management in non-profit organizations differs in some respects. Let’s see where.
First of all, most of the activities are carried out by volunteers. This aspect, therefore, puts the project leader in front of new and different challenges regarding the management of human resources. Moreover, hierarchies tend to be less structured, forcing project managers to rely much more on influence and leadership.
Although strategic planning, governance, processes and key performance indicators are adopted by structured and mature nonprofit organizations, the situation is changing. Indeed, the reality is different for a large number of organizations that have a negative impact on the portfolio and have to do with managing projects with changing priorities.
Even the life cycles of the budget and the management of finances change. They are usually less predictable because non-profit organizations depend on donations and grants. Restricted funds, restrictions and legal regulations place an additional level of complexity in the management of the project. Funding, grants or donations, acquiring project teams (ie volunteers) are just a few examples of real needs.
Moreover, in non-profit organizations, stakeholder management is even more important and critical. This is because non-profit organizations often interface with governments, private companies, regulatory agencies, communities and more.
Similarities between a non-profit project and a profit project
There are also obviously some similarities in project management for a traditional organization and a non-profit organization.
In fact, both types of projects require a plan that identifies the goals, defines the purpose, assigns tasks and has measurable result criteria.
Projects require a program with activity details, dependencies, assignments and periodic reviews, as the ultimate result is to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.
In any case, the PMs of both sectors have to deal with the acquisition of resources and their management.
The real cost of the project is fundamental in the analysis and could be the decisive criterion in an evaluation.
Managing a non-profit project is as challenging as a profit project. This is why it becomes essential to activate Project Management Tools for planning, tracking costs and managing time and resources.
Effective communication with key stakeholders is essential.
Risks must be identified and managed.
On which aspects should you particularly focus when managing a non-profit project?
The project manager in a non-profit organization must pay particular attention to the following elements:
- Identification of project stakeholders
- In-depth stakeholders anlaysis and identification of those with major influence on the project
- Produce a Work Breakdown Structure
- Select project team members based on the skills needed and structure a training plan for the resources that need training
- Empower team members and stakeholders, if necessary, by building a responsibility assignment matrix
- Define the Gantt chart of the project in order to keep an eye on the contribution of each resource
- Communicate the method by which the monitoring and control of the project and its activities will be carried out
- Organize a kick-off meeting at the beginning of each project in which all the information previously cited will be exposed and in which any doubts or objections will be answered
In conclusion, we can therefore say that non-profit organizations have similar characteristics to traditional organizations. At the same time, they present very different goals that inevitably influence how projects are managed.
In NGOs projects exist and are often the basis of their daily work and their future development.
In some cases, however, these types of organizations are so focused on their mission that they do not sufficiently care for their internal processes.
On the other hand, sometimes they concentrate so much on the financial aspects necessary for their survival that they forget the original goal and mission.
Therefore, there are still many steps to be taken in order to create an adequate culture concerning the management of projects in non-profit organizations.
We believe in a structured reality. A reality in which even non-profit organizations can always have their original mission in mind, while at the same time structuring themselves internally.
To manage complex projects, a project management software becomes essential.
For this reason, we have activated a discounted license policy dedicated to non-profit organizations.
Many are the no-profit companies who have already chosen us, and who perform their projects.
If you are part of a small non-profit organization that basically does not have an IT budget, write us; you could ask for a discounted license.