So you’re ready to launch – or re-launch – your nonprofit. Or maybe you want a fresh start, a tune-up, or a do-over for your existing organization. What should you do? Get together and talk? Listen? Plot and plan? Review your finances?Visit organizations that inspire you? Yes. And more.
When starting or restarting, be strategic. You definitely need to plot and plan. And make commitments to your team mates. Forget about hierarchy – at least for the moment. Teams can go a lot further than a leader. It’s simple math: there’s more of you. If you can’t rely on each other and trust each other then you don’t have a team. You might have a founder, an executive director, board members, volunteers and maybe staff. But you don’t have a team. So, you’re not ready to launch, start or restart.
Trust, accountability and transparency are non-negotiable. No secrets and no excuses. You also have to know what you are all about.
First, what is your vision? Can you communicate it in one sentence? Two? Do you all agree? Is it vague or specific?
Next, what are your top three goals? Getting more specific, what do you want to accomplish in each of the next three years? What are the primary strategies you will deploy to accomplish these? Take a moment to write things down. In short sentences. For each year write down your goal followed by a primary strategy for achieving it. You can have multiple goals in a year, but start with one.
Step three, determine what resources you will need. These can include money, relationships, technology, and access to information. Identify your resources and ask “how can we secure these?” Write down your answers. Have a plan A and a plan B at a minimum.
Step four, ask “how will we measure our impact?” You may feel that doing something is better than doing nothing, but remember – if you end up asking people to financially support your work they may just want to know about your impact.
Once you launch – or re-launch – you may find yourself on a perpetual treadmill of activities that take all your energy and attention. So take time now to ask questions and document your answers. You need a strategic directions document, lest you find yourself running around like a chicken with its head cut off.