Book with icons telling a story

Not-for-profit leadership strategies for 2020

Change starts from within. Set your organization up for success by pairing the benefits of storytelling with a digital-first outlook.

CPAs have a valuable role to play in the NFP sector. Whether you’re on a board, responsible for the finance function or a member of the senior management team, you can make a difference by adopting leadership strategies that help your organization stand out and thrive.

In practice, this often takes the form of using the power of storytelling to cut through the noise and adopting new technologies to stay relevant.


Not-for-profits are purpose-driven organizations with a lot of value to offer, socially and economically. And you know that value better than anyone. The reason storytelling resonates so much with audiences is because it gets to the heart of how people process information. People respond to emotion, experience and memories.

When you add human elements to the information you share with your stakeholders, donors and the public, it drives action in a way that data alone cannot.

Consider the impact of presenting your organization’s analytics or latest achievements in the context of human interest. You still need evidence to ground your vision, of course – but that data should be supportive versus the stand-alone focus of the narrative. Your story is what shines in external-facing opportunities to connect with your supporters and create converts. You can see this in action with Kiva’s Power of Giving campaign and other recent examples, like the profession’s New Face of CPAs campaign.

Storytelling is also a useful internal exercise for you as a leader to define goals, tap into the curiosity of your staff and colleagues, then ask the key questions together. What will propel your organization’s mission forward, both creatively and strategically? What does a story that serves your community really sound like? How can it be distilled into something memorable and concise that puts customer needs first?


When it comes to technology, it’s both daunting and exciting to navigate the options. From how to implement Google’s free support program for NFPs to robotic process automation (RPA) tools that’ll save you time on financial reports and outreach initiatives – there’s no shortage of choices.

However, unlike corporations, not-for-profits tend to have smaller budgets and additional resource constraints. Investing in new tech tools may feel prohibitive or require tough conversations to secure approval. But the flipside is a handsome return on investment (ROI).

The ROI for tech adoption with NFPs is usually more than enough to justify the budget line, and including it in your leadership strategy will fuel worthwhile organizational change and shifts in workplace culture. Sparking innovation is appealing in and of itself, but the real endgame is digital solutions – the kind that improve operational efficiencies, encourage public engagement and increase fundraising potential to better deliver on your mission, in 2020 and beyond.

North America’s most successful not-for-profit organizations have three core characteristics in common in their approach to tech investments and digital optimization:

  • A high level of digital literacy at the senior management level

  • Every new major project involves input from digital experts

  • Digital team structures are collaborative, integrated and agile

And it makes sense. These characteristics are what it takes to mobilize people with your story and scale campaigns in an increasingly digital world.

For more inspiration and practical guidance, attend the Not-for-Profit Forum from February 10-11, 2020 in Vancouver. At this event, you’ll be able to build leadership strategies that tie mission to growth and boost performance outcomes with insights from Canada’s top experts in the NFP sector.

Plus, with a variety of in-person and virtual attendance options to choose from, it’s affordable for every professional development budget. Registration starts at just $449 per person and group discounts are available.