We’ve discussed the difference between small and large nonprofits, most specifically in relation to social media. But differences in size obviously go beyond just social media – it is a main deciding factor in hiring (or if you can even have a staff), communication, fundraising, logistics, operations, etc. You name it – the size of your organization plays a large role in the decisions being made. But to be frank, it isn’t the size of the organization that matters – it is what they are doing in the community and the impact they are having that matters most.
It can be easy to forget the impact that smaller nonprofits are already having in the U.S. Three-fourths of all charities in the U.S. report annual expenses of less than $500,000. These organizations can focus on specific community needs more easily than their larger counterparts. And while it is difficult for them to compete in total dollars raised, it is not difficult for them to battle wits with the Goliaths when it comes to expressing impact. Smaller nonprofits have the opportunity to tout that they are not one of the larger organizations – they are local, they are present, and they care about their community.
But being proud of your small size isn’t enough – knowing how to scale your efforts, and reach your full potential, is critical to expanding your impact. How can you best reach more constituents? Is it through social media, or is it through more traditional outreach methods? Who should you be approaching for fundraising – is it the larger, more corporately structured companies with larger giving budgets, or smaller, more community based companies that will actually benefit from the impact of your nonprofit.
Above all, understand your limitations as well as your successes. With that comes a need to refine your goals so that they meet what is actually possible. It’s an understanding not only of your staff and organization, but of your community, of target audiences for asks and volunteering; it is knowing how you are seen by others and the best way to use these opinions and relationships to achieve your goals.
Being small is not always seen as a benefit – work loads are larger, budgets are tighter, accomplishments can seem muted. But being small is amazing. Taking advantage of your stature means approaching the right funders, building meaningful relationships, and changing lives. Every day. Don’t let your small size deter you – it’s your small size that let’s you stand out from the larger nonprofits, and what can make a real impact in the community around you.