Best Practices Leads to Operational Competency, Innovation to Excellence

If your organization is lacking in any area of operational competency, best practices can help. Best practices are the commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective within a given industry or discipline.

In essence, best practices are the currently accepted industry standard but here’s the wrinkle.

Depending how long it has been since those benchmarks were updated, that industry standard may be in flux or need of re-evaluation.

A benchmark example within the Nonprofit arena could be the Annual Audit. Depending on the size of your organization, an Annual Audit is expected by your Funders, accrediting bodies and other interested parties, hence a “best practice.”

That said, the winds are changing and if you haven’t been paying attention, you may not have even noticed. Today, the Annual Audit is seen more as a minimum standard of performance demonstrating marginal competence than a best practice.

Your Funders are looking for more accountability and transparency from your Nonprofit than your Annual Audit and end of project report. In fact, other industries are demanding the same thing and at an even faster rate.

Accountability and Transparency Breakthrough

In a recent interview at the Milken’s Global Conference, EY Global Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger discussed the emergence of real-time auditing capability for public companies. Can you see how this innovation from another business sector could be a breakthrough for your Nonprofit?

In other words, real-time auditing could help your Nonprofit to:

  • Demonstrate the effective operation of your organization.
  • Review compliance with a multitude of administrative regulations.
  • Engender a sense of confidence from your Board that your Nonprofit is functioning well and you are prepared to meet any potential challenge.
  • Enhance your Nonprofit’s reputation and brand.
  • Perform ongoing due diligence for your Funders, accrediting agencies and other interested parties.
  • Satisfy much of your Funder’s transparency and accountability issues.

There are hundreds of other industries with great ideas, practices and implementation just waiting to be adapted into the Nonprofit ecosystem. To get started, Google another industry or ask your brother-in-law about something new in his business or just pick up a Wall Street Journal.

A Word About Innovation and Operational Excellence

By paying attention to other business sectors, you may immediately see solutions in play to address challenges that your Nonprofit is facing or will face in the future. As the famed New York Yankee coach Yogi Berra said, “you can observe a lot just by watching.”

Was real-time auditing even on our radar? We had not even considered it either and we have been seriously engaging in the transparency and accountability conversation since early last year. That means that your Funders, accrediting agencies and other interested parties probably haven’t heard of it either.

Imagine the response from your Nonprofit community when you bring this real-time audit idea to their attention. Can you spell g-e-n-i-u-s? We are currently engaging with EY and will keep you up-to-date on timeline and availability for you and your Nonprofit to be able to demonstrate operational excellence through real-time audits.

Wait until you hear about the way your Nonprofit can use climate change innovation, developed by the United States Navy, to achieve operational excellence while simultaneously making the world a safer place.

What practices applied in another industry could be adapted to create Nonprofit operational excellence?

If you are an experienced fundraising professional or nonprofit leader who wants to innovate your way to operational excellence, please send me an invitation to connect.

For more thought leadership on nonprofit best practices and how to achieve operational excellence, please visit The Global Center for Nonprofit Excellence where nonprofits, funders and industry experts work together for the greatest impact.


Founder and Chief Culture Bender