What determines the strength of an NPO? The size of its budget? The scope of its services? Or length of its history? Rather, there is one element that all resilient, impactful NPOs have in common – authentic trusting relationships rooted in a value-based culture.

1. Relationship with beneficiaries
An impactful NPO keep its beneficiaries central in its service delivery. In leaving a lasting legacy there must be a unified commitment to make a difference in the lives of thebeneficiaries it serves.

Therefore, the leaders of NPOs have to ensure that they remain in touch with their beneficiaries’ needs, challenges and strengths. They also have to ensure that service delivery is planned and implemented in line with well-defined values. Here are some key questions for consideration:

  • How does your leadership ensure that the actual services remain relevant to the needs, challenges and strengths of beneficiaries?
  • How can the expectations of your beneficiaries be managed, especially in tough seasons when resources are low?
  • How can you strengthen the voices and initiatives of your beneficiaries so that they are supported in being active change agents?

A good principle to remember in managing expectations with beneficiaries is only to make service commitments that you are able to keep. And once you have made those commitments, be clear about communicating it. Then make sure to follow through on delivery.

2. Relationship with collaborators
We all hold different puzzle pieces in finding effective solutions to complex challenges. Remember that effective collaborations take time. So, take small steps initially. Only makecommitments that you are happy to agree with. Rather say “no” than to get stuck in a partnership that is not aligned with your value system. Once you have found collaborators that allows your organisation to live out its vision, mission and value system with joy, nurture those relationships.

Even the strongest NPO is successful because of the collaborators that joined it in its mission. Therefore, it is so worthwhile to celebrate collaborative success through an honouring culture in order to strengthen each collaborator’s work. Here are three basic action points to accomplish this:

  • Honour the models and intellectual property of collaborators at all times.
  • When reporting on a collaborative project, make sure to highlight the contribution of each collaborator.
  • Create opportunities for collaborators by connecting them to other stakeholders, resources and donors beyond your own projects.

3. Relationship with donors and supporters
The support of donors to your NPO is vital to sustainability. It is so important to honour donors through acts of appreciation and consistency in commitments.

Remember that when a donor gives a donation to your NPO, that donor chose to invest in your organisation as an act of trust. So, cultivate that relationship through keycommitments:

  • Choose funding partners carefully so that there is a good alignment in vision and values.
  • Make sure to thank and acknowledge all donors as important supporters in your NPO’s work.
  • Be consistent in sending your donors updates through regular reports and other communication pieces.
  • Honour donor’ requests by providing them with the requested documentation such as tax-deductible receipts and audited financial statements on time.

Trust is built from consistency. Investing in the stakeholder relationships of your NPO may therefore be one of the most important time investments of all. So, be intentional aboutthat. Take time to build, nurture and strengthen relationships. Communicate clearly. Celebrate joint efforts. And above all, be authentic, truthful and kind.

Written by Mariëtte Jacobs (MD of Ezrah Community Training and Development NPC).