We’ve all been there — you just finished the greatest strategic plan ever. You and your team invested your time and heart into crafting it. Your organization even brought in a consultant and did a big event to announce it. But then fast-forward two years later, and here you are: the plan still sits on the shelf, seemingly taunting you for your hard work and effort never realized because no one ever uses it or takes it off that shelf.
We hear a lot about intellectual property (affectionately called IP) in every sector. I almost wrote “except the nonprofit sector,” but that’s no longer the case. In the past two to three years, it’s beginning to pop up more and more—as a recognition of the valuable ideas, services, and concepts that mission-driven organizations are generating across the US and the world.
I remember my first big fundraising ask. I was an all-too-young Director of Development for a regional human services organization, Westcare. In just a few short months there, I had propelled their grant fundraising to new heights, allowing the organization to meet their goals for service that the leadership thought they would never reach.
It’s time we talked about one of the taboo topics of the nonprofit world: the topic of “profit.” One thing I have learned over my career is that if you’re going to have a viable organization, you’ll need to get used to the word. In fact, this is one of the most important concepts that everyone in the organization, regardless of their role, needs to consider in their decision-making process.
We can find it very easy to feel consumed by our jobs, especially as nonprofit leaders. If you’re like me, you’re extremely passionate about executing your mission, one you consider crucial in today’s world. Yet you may also feel there’s never enough time to do it all, and fires constantly popping up further increase your time demands. Your job’s pull can quickly take over all your time – both professional and personal.
Recently, a very wise person (our very own Alison LaRocca) stated, “Business models are the new strategic plan.” I agree—but even more than a strategic plan, a business model is how your whole enterprise will function now and in the future. It clearly encapsulates everything you do, from fund-raising to delivering services in your community.
All too common story ... I was recently working with the leader of a nonprofit organization who is talking about his latest dilemma: a mid-level manager who is exiting the organization, and both this manager and he were upset. He was disappointed that the manager was leaving but didn’t think she had lived up to her potential. On the flip side, the manager felt resentful, believing she was hired for a very different job than the one she was required to perform.
When the leader asked me for my advice on what to do next, I suggested the departure is probably mutually beneficial. In truth, both leader and manager would not be able to reconcile. The challenge wasn’t a typical human resources issue about compensation, communications, or relationships.
I recently was invited as a guest on Staffing Startup TV- the leading podcast for recruitment entrepreneurs. Dee Williams asked some compelling questions that will help you learn how we created the system, how it works, and why the uptake has been so swift.
When Executive directors and CEOs of nonprofit organizations share their greatest challenges with me, the list of common frustrations can include- fundraising, board development, and effectively managing personnel. When I start to focus on how to overcome their biggest obstacles, these senior managers begin to realize that one of the biggest hurdles they face was not even on the list, yet it is integral part of all the challenges facing them. The need for data. The need for data leads directly into the “evaluation trap”. The good news is there is a solution to this trap, most of nonprofit leadership is simply not aware of it.
And it wont' blow your budget...When I am speaking to nonprofit professionals, the conversation usually turns to the mission of their organization and the impact it has on the community. The big question is not how can an organization measure their impact and communicate it to private foundations, government ag encies and the community, but on how can they afford not to? An independent evaluation has benefits that cannot be ignored, it can prove the program is meeting its mission, demonstrate that the benefits of the nonprofit are being effectively received, and quantify the impact of resources.