Positioning Sustainable Nonprofit Organizations for 2022 & Beyond
By Eugene Fram Free Digital Image
Many nonprofits boards have just entered their 2022 fiscal years. From a “25,000 foot viewpoint,” following are three integrated nonprofit board functions that should have special focus to assure stakeholders that the nonprofit has long-term organization sustainability.
Playing the “Long Game” – Most management experts would use their own bit of jargon:
” Organizational Succession” But nonprofits that play this are playing the “long game” since they’re taking strategic steps today to ensure that their organization is just as vital a decade from now as it is today. It’s funny, just as big public companies hamstring themselves by falling into the “quarter-to-quarter” earnings reporting trap, many nonprofits shortchange themselves by restricting their strategizing to planning cycles of only three to five years. They need to add some longer-range thinking to the strategic mix. If you’re a nonprofit, you want to have an idea of the types of leadership that will be running the organization a decade from now – both in the executive chairs and along the boardroom table.
Holding Out For Quality – The first piece of advice relationship experts hand out to singles is “don’t settle.” By that they mean, “don’t rush into a relationship just because you want to get married – make sure it’s the ‘right’ person.” The same holds true for a nonprofit. With all the new challenges that are faced these days, you need really, really sharp folks on your board. And that includes, perhaps, some “experts” or “specialists” in the challenges you’re tackling. Nonprofits need to start recruiting higher-quality board members. From my own observations, I know that nonprofit nominating committees have not been proactive. They recruit friends, neighbors and colleagues of current board members – rather than casting a wide net and aggressively seeking out the very best candidates. This takes time and requires a more detailed vetting process. Board members have to agree to devote more time in order to interest more broadly based candidates. Perhaps you even “invest” (notice I didn’t say “spend”) money to retain a professional recruiting firm. Like most investments that are well thought out, this is one that will pay off big in the long run.
Embracing Innovation – No, I’m not talking about buying a new computer system. I’m talking about creative, innovative thinking, for example in the fundraising realm. According to the latest reports there are between 1.5 million and 1.6 million nonprofits – just here in the U.S. market alone. And many of those organizations are chasing the same dollars. Fundraising is the lifeblood of a nonprofit – so don’t pay it short shrift. New venues and markets for fund raising must be explored, whether they be social-media based (crowdfunding, for instance), or just new, untapped markets (like. Generation Z) finding a new source can be taken for granted, whether it be a person, a foundation or local federal or state governments.
Organization sustainability requires more than checking the boxes on the strategic plan annually and then moving to a new plan every three to five years. It requires nonprofit board members to maintain a high level organizational overview, constantly seeking impact results, through continually Playing the “Long Game,” supported by strategic tactics involving “Holding Out For Quality” & Embracing Innovation.