Do you know what the future will hold? How are you planning for future opportunities and challenges that may not be known and might not materialize? A waste of time, or important work?
While no one can predict the future, we can prepare for potential opportunities and challenges. Taking time with board members, volunteers, staff, and community leaders can help your organization consider future possibilities. Some are likely, others unknown. Think about what data you may need to review to help you understand potential changes in demographics, economics, government programs, law, policy, the environment… You can’t think of everything, but you can build future thinking into your organization.
Here are three future events to consider. Take a moment to review and discuss the impact of one (or more) with your leadership.
Change in executive leadership. Your executive director announces she is leaving at the end of the month. She is willing to do everything to make the transition as easy as possible, but she must leave for non-negotiable family reasons.
Potential major grant. A funder approaches your organization to learn more about your work as they are preparing to make a few large, multi-year targeted investments.
Economic downturn. The country is faced with another economic downturn. Returns on investments decrease and the need for services increases. Funding priorities for some individual donors and foundations change: some increase their giving, others change how they give and what they give to.
How would such a future event affect each of the following?
Business plan. What adjustments would you need to make? Who would make them? How would they be implemented?
Board. What role would the board play? Would they need to meet more frequently? What actions might they need to take?
Programs. How would your programs be impacted? Would you be serving different people? How would you expand or contract? What would be required of staff and volunteers?
Funding. What could be the potential impacts? What if a larger percentage of the budget became restricted? What if matching grants were required? Are there issues of equity to consider?
Sustainability. What processes can focus on organizational health, meeting community needs, fundraising, identifying and growing leadership, increasing knowledge, strengthening technology, and increasing transparency and accountability?
Think about what other changes could arise and create your own discussion questions. Take time to plan for future opportunities and challenges.
Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw encourage you to think about the future. Visit us at www.saadandshaw.com.