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In Silicon Valley, there's a saying: "Fail fast." And there's a belief among founders and techies that failing is not only OK, it's good. It's normal. Failure is the way progress is made, especially when you're creating innovative new companies and technologies.
When you have millions of dollars in venture funding, this belief makes a lot of sense: Take risks. Be aggressive. Do what's never been done before, and create something that makes people's lives easier and businesses more productive.
But it's not that way for nonprofits. Yes, the funding receiving by faith-, grant-, or member-based organizations is driven by marketing and brand awareness. But it's also driven by results — or lack thereof. Failing to achieve your mission can quickly lead to failing to raise the funds required to do so. It's a terrible Catch-22.
In the nonprofit world, failure has real and meaningful consequences — for the environment, for communities, or for citizens, many of whom are underserved and in great need of support.
If a pizza delivery app or social media platform fails, at the end of the day, few people are truly affected. But with nonprofits, failure can be devastating.
To complicate matters, a nonprofit's leadership is more exposed. Where a private company is accountable to its investors and board, sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator make it easy for members and donors to assess a nonprofit's operational efficiency and project costs.
So, if you don't achieve your goals, what should you do? How do you navigate failure?
There's never a one-size-fits-all solution, but here are a few tips that should help.
Check out ClickTime's donation program for time tracking so you can be transparent and demonstrate your efforts.
Alex Mann is a trustee at the Jewish Home of San Francisco and the CEO of ClickTime.
Image: Tomasz Stasiuk / CC BY-SA
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.