To increase impact, nonprofits should scale up by seeking innovative ways to expand their program to reach larger populations. The scaling process involves identifying a gap that needs to be filled and finding where you can step in by leveraging a working strategy that allows you to put things into perspective. In today’s podcast, Rita Soronen from Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Stephen from Financing Solutions painstakingly discuss how to scale a nonprofit program.

How to Scale a Nonprofit Program

Growth is an inevitable aspect of every successful organization. When an organization fails to grow, it’s bound for failure; and the same applies to nonprofits. Every nonprofit organization must ensure they put in place the right strategies that will help drive sustainable growth by seeking out opportunities to scale their programs. 

Scaling your nonprofit programs involves having a working plan and being prepared to handle any challenge that might come your way down the line. In addition, it means following the best course of action that promotes fundraising, builds communities, and attracts volunteers for the optimal operation of your nonprofit. In other words, starting a nonprofit is not enough if there is no plan of execution to further your mission and reach your nonprofit’s objective. 

Approximately more than 30% of budding nonprofits fail to make it to the next ten years due to leadership issues, lack of a strategic plan, and more. However, effective leadership that understands a nonprofit purpose and puts a system in place, among other things, can help scale a nonprofit profit program.

It takes proper planning, expertise, and funding to drive sustainable growth. Read on as we walk you through how to scale your nonprofit program. 

Identify the Gap In your Nonprofit Mission and Program  

Every nonprofit is formed for a specific purpose. For example, nonprofit missions include religious, educational, or charitable purposes. Therefore, knowing the gap in your nonprofit mission will help you identify the best practices to address them. In other words, you should strive to understand the current state of the problems you intend to solve to decide where you will be in the future concerning the already identified gap. 

Based on a strategic plan, you should set the target for at least one year or 3-5 years. This will allow you to keep track of current performance against target goals. Moreover, it’s the gap you identified that informed your nonprofit’s mission in the first place so that you can develop a step-by-step strategy that helps your organization achieve its mission in the short term and its vision in the long term.  Building a nonprofit

Identifying the gap in your nonprofits means knowing your purpose, mission, and the market you operate in, so to speak. You should learn to take one step back so you can take two steps forward.  Put differently, you should give yourself time for critical assessment by knowing who you are, your strategic plan, and your vision.  You can consider taking a day, one week, or even one month out to work strategically on how you will scale your nonprofit mission because without a plan or vision your efforts will have little impact. 

Put a System of  Execution in Place

After you have identified the gap, the next thing to do is to have an execution plan to fill the gap. A working system will allow you to put the identified problems into perspective. In addition,  It will also help you to tackle the problem in a more coordinated way. However,  if you don’t have the capacity to fill the gap, you can consider working with experts with the right strategy to help solve the problems. A deep understanding of your nonprofit’s landscape will make it easier for you to take control of your organization’s future. 

A strategic plan points the way forward for your nonprofit and helps reveal ways to improve your performance. An execution plan will dictate how you respond to challenges and opportunities. For example, it will give you insight into how you meet new donors, expand your operations, and reach your full nonprofit potential.

Monitoring, Evaluations, and Refining of Results

You have to undertake a periodic assessment by comparing what you achieve with what you intended. The Evaluation should be made based on the analysis of data. The aim is to help you reflect on what you are trying to achieve, assess whether it went as planned, and identify required changes. 

You should evaluate the scaling process to identify any necessary adjustments that need to be made to the program. In addition, through monitoring, you will keep track of day-to-day activities and operations to get regular feedback on how things are going which will help you make improvements on areas you are not getting the desired outcome.

Final Thought

The process of scaling a nonprofit is not easy; it requires due diligence, stakeholders’ support, buy-in, effective leadership, execution plan, assessment, and more. Every nonprofit seeking sustainable growth and development should develop a working strategy to produce an effective outcome. 


Learn About Our Guest for Today’s Podcast, Rita Soronen

For more than 30 years, Rita Soronen has worked on behalf of abused, neglected, and vulnerable children, providing leadership for local, state, and national efforts, working to improve the juvenile justice and child welfare systems while striving to assure safe and permanent homes for North America’s children. Leading the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national nonprofit public charity, since 2001 and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption-Canada since 2004, Ms. Soronen works to find permanent families for the more than 140,000 waiting children in North America’s foster care systems. Under her leadership, the Foundation has significantly increased its grant-making while developing strategic initiatives that act on the urgency of the issue. In 2021, the Foundation dedicated more than $40.9 million to grants and award-winning programs, such as Wendy’s Wonderful Kids®, Adoption-Friendly Workplace™, and National Adoption Day. 

Learn More About Stephen Halasnik

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders and their teams. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of loans for nonprofits in the form of a Line of Credit. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses.

Stephen lives in New Jersey and his top life mission is to raise his two sons, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.