Competitive Advantages for a Nonprofit (4 mins)

By Shannon Sage


Competitive Advantages for a Nonprofit

Yes, even nonprofits have competitive advantages. Identify what your organization does better than other organizations by using this matrix, so you can more effectively compete in gaining resources.
For more resources on building your strategic plan, view the Essentials Guide to Strategic Planning.

Video Transcript

“Hi, my name is Nancy Olsen. Today’s whiteboard session is Competitive Advantage for a Nonprofit Organization.

A competitive advantage is what your organization does better than similar organizations. It’s what your organization does better than your competitors. Now many organizations in the nonprofit world think that they don’t have any competitors. But the truth is is that nonprofit organizations find themselves actually competing for a small pool of resources. They’re competing for the same money. They’re competing for volunteers, and they’re competing sometimes for the same grants. So competitive advantage is really important in today’s market.

So how do you begin to identify your competitive advantage? Start by asking the question, what are you best at, or what could you be best at? What makes your organization unique? Why do people donate to your organization? Why do people volunteer for your organization? The answer to these questions will help you start identifying your competitive advantage.

The other way that you can identify your competitive advantage is through this simple matrix. Look at your unique strengths. Ask your question, what do you do well? Then start listing those strengths. Then look at your core competency. Ask the question, what do you do better than your competitors? It’s only a core competency if you do it better than your competitors. Look at those unique strengths, and then identify what your core competencies are. Then start identifying your competitive advantage. How do you provide value to the people that you serve? Look at your core competencies, and then come up with one or two competitive advantages that your organization possesses.

Now, let’s look, for example, at the Red Cross, which you’re all familiar with. They have unique strengths. And you can just list their unique strengths. Out of these unique strengths, you can list the core competencies that they have. For example, I’ve listed a few. They have international locations. They have rapid service time to delivery. They have the ability to raise funds, and they have great organizational skills that they can quickly bring together. So one of their competitive advantages might be their response time to a crisis anywhere in the world.

You can do a similar process using this matrix with your organization. Once you’ve identified your competitive advantage, what do you do with it? What you do is you actually build it into your strategic plan. You purposely set objectives and goals that nurture and drive that competitive advantage. What you want to do is you want to set yourself apart from all of your competitors, or similar organizations down here.

I’d like to leave you with one closing thought. I would like you to number one, remember that it takes time to develop your competitive advantage. It takes time to identify that competitive advantage, and it’s something that you have to continually do year after year. So continually ask, what are you best at, and then also set those goals, set those objectives, to drive that competitive advantage so you set yourself apart.”

Shannon Sage

Shannon is a Client Engagement Manager at OnStrategy with experience in marketing, social media and strategic planning. She manages the survey database, supports the integration of survey results and analysis, and she answers client’s questions and concerns.
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