Nonprofit Lifecycles: Resources for Growing Organizations

February 17, 2016

By Melissa Sines, Learning & Accreditation Director, Maryland Nonprofits


Every organization is unique and will enter this growth stage on a different time horizon. For some organizations that are well-organized and well-financed may have the ability to make this leap as early as their second year. Other organizations may have been in operation for five or more years before turning their focus to growth.

Organizations at in the growth phase have built a strong foundation and are now working to deepen their governance and management policies across all operations. You can tell you’ve entered the growth phase when you’re beginning to concentrate on things like:
  • Developing a comprehensive

    long range

  • Building systems and procedures to support short and long-term planning
  • Expanding programs to serve more people
  • Outlining outcomes measurement goals and putting data collection methods into place
  • Developing policies around personnel – for paid and unpaid staff – and ensuring legal compliance
  • Terming out founding board members and bringing on new recruits
  • Establishing formal board committees
  • Putting in place regular evaluation for the executive director, board members, and staff
  • Awareness of the diversity of your board, staff, and volunteers in relation to the community you are serving
  • Investment in fixed and liquid assets; attention to cost center allocations and purchasing practices
  • Increasing technological capacity to establish a database to manage constituent and organization data and putting in place policies around equipment use, technology replacement, and data security
  • Diversifying income sources and considering a range of sources of income
  • Growing your online presence and building your audience and putting in place policies around communications and social media
  • Building your capacity for speaking out on public policy issues that may affect your ability to meet your mission

As an organization grows, its leaders cannot ignore the time and resources it will take to grow internal capacity to develop systems and policies, talk to a wider audience, and ultimately, have a greater impact in their mission area.

At this critical time, Maryland Nonprofits offers the assistance you need help you build your capacity and meet your mission.

Step 1: Review our Nonprofit Lifecycles Start-Up Resources to make sure you did not skip any essential steps in building a strong organizational foundation. (Members, be sure to log in first and find this information on our Member Portal).

Step 2: Review our Nonprofit Lifecycles Growth Resources to help identify the sample policies and procedures you need to deepen your governance and management practices across areas like Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation; Leadership; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development; and Public Awareness, Engagement, and Advocacy. (Members, be sure to log in first and find this information on our Member Portal).

Step 3: Closely review the requirements for Standards Basics Enhanced, as this provides a great framework, benchmarks, and measurements for taking your organization to the next level. Consider applying for Standards Basics Enhanced recognition. The Standards for Excellence Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits, has a great framework in place to help you build a strong organization.

Step 4: Still need help? Our staff experts are here to assist! Members can fill out a request for member assistance form in our member portal and one of our staff will be in touch to help however we can.


There is nothing more satisfying than building the confidence of your leaders and knowing that your organization is putting in place strong bones that will increase your sustainability and your capacity to meet your mission.



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