With many organisations looking to achieve a better social impact, non-profit organisations, in particular, are putting a greater emphasis on the use of project management to help with this. In order to be effective, project management within non-profits requires careful coordination and planning. One thing is becoming increasingly clear, and that is that without non-profit project management tools, these organisations cannot achieve their goals or be productive in their social impact projects.
In order to ensure maximum social impact whilst also creating meaningful change, it is important to think about the tools that are used to do this. These might include attending training for project managers such as APM PPQ, PMI or PRINCE,2 using appropriate project management software and data analytics tools.
Project management for non-profits is the planning organising, and managing of resources in order to accomplish set goals. In this regard, it is a critical process that not only allows for engagement with a range of stakeholders but also assists in reaching social objectives. Its main goal is to make sure that a project team completes a project to the appropriate standard and within budget. This means considering project scope developing plans finding the resources, and considering the project outcome -in fact, all of the same standard project management processes you might expect to find elsewhere. Where this differs is that within the non-profit sector, there are often rather unique constraints, for example, limited numbers of staff, including volunteers, and perhaps more importantly, a limited budget. This can often mean that a greater degree of resourcefulness and creativity is required.
There are a number of challenges that any non-profit will find themselves facing at some point. These include:
- Working under unique constraints – limited budgets, staffing levels and limits of some resources.
- Poor team collaboration – work is often undertaken with other organisations to complete a project and effective project management is required to achieve this.
- Not engaging effectively with stakeholders – non-profits have a range of stakeholders, and it is important to engage with them all throughout the project.
- Evaluation and monitoring is unproductive – a non-profit needs to show their impact and accountability to stakeholders. Evaluation and monitoring are essential for communicating and measuring project outcomes.
- Lack of organisation and retention in the team – a volunteer-based workforce is a complex one and brings plenty of challenges – schedules, skills sets and motivations, with not everyone being available when needed. There is often higher staff turnover as a result of the number of volunteers and this makes the team dynamic tricky.
- Operating within changing circumstances – dynamic and sometimes unpredictable environments are often what a non-profit finds themselves working in. In the non-profit sector, it is important for project management to be adaptable to any changing circumstances. Highly experienced project managers with the expertise and qualifications will more effectively be able to manage this.
The right tools can make all the difference in project management and never more so than in a non-profit. It can help to provide a range of solutions, including, better resource management, effective collaboration, keeping stakeholders up to date, measuring results and communicating impact, enhancing project planning and also streamlining workflows.