After this crisis, the world will never be the same. Whether we liked things as they were, or didn’t, one thing is guaranteed: the future is unknown. How we enter that future can be influenced by actions we take today.
With this column, we offer questions for you to consider, discuss, and even write up your responses to. We want to help you prepare for what will come next. You know your organization, those you serve and advocate for, and your community, its assets, challenges, politics, and resources. Let’s put that knowledge to work.
Here are three things to do now: assess, define, and consult.
Assess. Examine what you understand to be your organization’s strengths and challenges today and historically. What assets are you bringing into the future? What aspects of your organization could you leave behind? What do you believe will be your strengths and challenges in the future? What data and information do you need in order to make critical management decisions now and in the future?
What kind of leadership and guidance will you need to help your organization move into the future? Who do you think are the right people who can give you honest advice? Do you have what it will take to navigate the systems and politics to ensure you will have a seat at the table as decisions about the future are being made? If you don’t, reach out to those who can help you and ask for their help.
Define. What type of organization do you want to be? What type of organization will you need to be? How can your organization position itself to meet the anticipated needs of the future? What types of people and skill sets will be needed? How do these match with those you have today? Can you remain essentially the same, yet better and more efficient? Will your mission, goals, and values remain the same, or will they need to be enhanced? Can you continue to operate as an independent organization, or should you consider merging with another, or going out of business? Is this the time to reinvent your nonprofit?
Consult. Talk with internal and external stakeholders to learn what they think about your organization and its potential role in the future. Ask about their expectations, and what they believe you need to do or become. Talk with board members, major donors, staff, clients, volunteers, students, elected officials, policy makers, foundation leadership. Ask about funding that is available or may become available. Find out if the leaders within your community or region see your organization as vital to recovery and sustainability, and if they are willing to help advocate on your behalf. Ask for the assistance you need – especially technical assistance in the areas of finance and technology.
During this process, be as honest, transparent and accountable as you can be. The future of your organization depends on it.
Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.