Some local organizations are thinking about how to balance mission, work and structure with decreasing or vacillating resources. While many anticipate lower-than-planned for revenues later this year and early next year, they recognize that their beneficiaries still require service. This recognition, informed by a changing concept of available resources, will require nonprofit leadership to pursue a different strategic course of action. We may well find a coming or existing need to re-group by turning our ship around in a harbor or temporary safe place.
There are some time-tested guiding principles to transition management in nonprofit organizations which bear repeating here.
- Revisit goals, roles and responsibilities while making an assessment of current management capacity and how it should change to fit new goals.
- Incorporate what has been learned in this review and gather input from opinion leaders among all customers, especially donors and volunteers.
- Widely communicate a “game plan”, road map or as much detail as possible on new processes, responsibilities and timelines. Commit to a review mechanism and timetable for follow-up communication. Communicate the game plan in the context of the mission of the organization.
- Ensure that cash flows projections and reliable financial records are included in the assessment.
- Once consensus is achieved in a new strategic course of action, create a profile of desired leadership for the future. Examine current leadership against that profile. Recruit and/or staff as necessary.
- Design a “sustainability” plan which incorporates a long-term course of action, new leadership with coordinated management capacity.
I read a valuable piece of advice for leaders from a contributor to this week’s “Chronicle of Philanthropy”, Pat Nichols. He says” Let it hurt you. Salve the hurt of others. If this recession drags on as long as many experts project, most organizations are obliged to make painful decisions. Although we must serve the mission first, we also have the responsibility to make and convey decisions in ways that demonstrate respect and lessen the pain for others.”
Other resources: www.bridgespan.org
Molly Cannon Stevenson, CFRE, CAHP