All too often, during times of crisis, we focus on the negative and not the positive. That wasn’t the case last week when I attended the 2009 New York Times Company Nonprofit Excellence Awards, which spotlighted six exceptional nonprofits from the New York Metro Area.
Like great chefs, exceptional executive directors and their boards must make sure they start with quality ingredients. They are agile at using these ingredients in versatile ways, to develop a unique flavor tailored to an organization’s distinct culture and needs.
For nonprofits, these core ingredients include:
- Results-oriented management
- Governance structure that moves the organization forward
- Strong, transparent and accountable financial management
- Inclusive, diverse and responsive organizational practices
- Enlightened use of talent and other resources
- Regular and effective communications
- Effective, ethical fundraising and resource development
Even among the exceptional, one organization will stand out as the crème de la creme. This year that organization was New York Cares, which meets community needs by mobilizing New Yorkers in volunteer service. It received the Overall Management Excellence Award.
Three other organizations were also recognized:
Groundwork, Inc. for Excellent Management. It helps build powerful youth and powerful communities by educating and supporting children and families in an around public housing.
Vera Institute of Justice for Excellent Management. It uses research, practice and innovation to help improve justice and safety across the United States and around the world.
Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP) for Excellent Communications. It promotes community economic justice and the elimination of discriminatory economic practices that harm communities.
A special recognition was given to two finalists, Citizens Advice Bureau, a Bronx based settlement house whose mission is to improve the economic and social well-being of low-income individuals, families and communities, and Legal Information for Families Today, which empowers court involved families with legal information and compassionate guidance so that they can successfully navigate the Family Court system.
So tell me…what is the key ingredient to your success?