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In an interview for Forbes’s “Women, Leadership and Vision” series, Contributor, Kathy Caprino speaks with Susan G. Komen Founder and Chair of Global Strategy, Nancy Brinker on the issues facing nonprofits in today’s rapidly-expanding landscape.

In addition to her role at Forbes, Ms. Caprino is a career success coach, leadership trainer, author and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women. She runs a career and leadership consulting and training firm, Ellia Communications, that offers programs, training and resources for career growth.

How To Build A Non-Profit That Thrives And Influences: A Conversation With Nancy Brinker

nonprofit, nancy-brinker, susan-g-komen

By Kathy Caprino| Forbes | 6/8/15

As thousands of people each day are increasing their involvement in both health advocacy and nonprofit, philanthropic causes, the burning question on their minds is how to effectively expand awareness of their own cause while surviving the rapidly-expanding competitive landscape.

It’s clear that a new path needs to be cleared where nonprofit organizations can both co-exist and collaborate together in order to prevent fragmentation, detrimental competition, and a dilution of efforts to make progress on their respective causes.

To address that issue, I was excited to speak with Ms. Nancy G. Brinker, whose work as a game changer in women’s health advocacy, and her vision for the future of nonprofits represents an inspiring model to learn from. Founder of and Chair of Global Strategy for Susan G. Komen®, Brinker is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement.

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Nonprofits Face Critical Challenges

The Forbes article points out that nonprofits are facing rising marketing costs in their effort to raise awareness for their cause in an ever-expanding competitive landscape.  In order to succeed they must develop good strategies for coexistence and collaboration to prevent fragmentation, harmful competition and a watering down of their individual efforts to move their causes forward.

She addresses those issues with Nancy Brinker, the internationally recognized leader and visionary in women’s health advocacy, whose nonprofit organization has inspired countless organizations. Her observations can help guide organizations, large and small, who want to triumph in todays nonprofit environment.

Technology Has Changed How Nonprofits Operate

Advances in technology like crowdsourcing and mobile communications have changed the way nonprofits like Susan G. Komen think and operate. It allows them to maximize fundraising to wider audiences and has also made it easy for donors, volunteers and staff to give and stay connected on a very personal level with the nonprofit via online, mobile and social media.

Shared Ideas Are a Powerful Catalyst for Nonprofit Progress and Change

By sharing ideas, nonprofits can learn a lot from each other and produce creative solutions that help them reach their goals. Brinker credits collaboration for her org’s large-scale success to partnerships like the 31 bread cancer organizations that came together to form the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance.

Through education about her cause and refusing to take “no” for an answer she was able to cultivate over 100 corporate partnerships that provide hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for medical research, community service and women’s health advocacy programing.

Understanding Brinker’s Advice For Your Nonprofit’s Future

  • Don’t Do It Alone– Your supporters and volunteers are invaluable to keeping your organization going.  Their passion, persistence and dedication can be harnessed to achieve your goals and deliver your mission. Don’t forget to recognize and acknowledge their contribution and achievements
  • Your Mission Comes First– Don’t lose sight of your purpose in today’s ever-changing and fast-moving online world. Technology should help you reach a wider audience, raise more money and save you time and resources so you can focus on your worthy cause and the work at hand.
  • Establish a Level of Trust and Transparency– You will earn the trust of both your internal and external audiences when you are accountable for fulfilling your mission, maintain transparency about your organizations’ fundraising practices and take every step to keep your constituents fully informed.
  • Build Resilience To Persevere –  There may be times when people may not agree with, or even understand what your nonprofit is trying to do.
  • Be Fearless– You are not always going to get it right, so don’t panic because failure is not only an option, but one that can provide you new ideas for great progress.
  • Adopt a Flexible Attitude – Sometimes you will need to hold firm until someone understands and sees your vision, and other times, you will need to make a change in order to reach your goals.

Your Takeaway: Brinker fully understood that she would need partners to fulfill her mission. She held fast to her vision and even though at first, no corporation wanted to be involved with her “cancer” cause, she worked hard to educate them and persevered until she was able to partner with over 100 companies that have now given hundreds of millions of dollars for her cause.

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