But ultimately, if nonprofit leaders and their board of directors fail to embrace their role in thinking and acting strategically, the organizations they represent will continue to be fixated on managing rather than solving community needs.
Those nonprofits that invest in evaluation are those who typically are closer to the leading edge than those who do not. So step back and ask yourself not “are you effective in achieving your mission” but “can you demonstrate it?”
It is time for nonprofit leaders (and their boards) to be intentional about developing and implementing a public policy agenda alongside program and service delivery. It requires investment, commitment, systems thinking, and action. Nonprofit organizations in a leadership role recognize this and invest accordingly.
While I doubt that I would give nonprofit collaboration the highest marks possible, as a whole, the nonprofit leaders I know rise above the mediocrity that the capacity survey authors suggest is “universal.” Let’s stop promoting the mythology of mediocre nonprofits. Rather than haranguing on nonprofit deficits, I would like to suggest four investments related to collaboration that nonprofits can make in order to build even more effective at collaboration.
Nonprofits on the leading-edge and those making the greatest difference, are the ones who are constantly asking themselves “where do we need to invest to make a greater impact.” Investing in your management systems is often the difference between staying stuck where you are today and achieving more tomorrow.
Clearly it is not a lack of knowledge that leads to underperforming boards but it a lack of intentionality and investment in cultivating a high preforming board. To break the cycle, nonprofits need to make investments in developing the strength, performance, and contribution of their boards of directors.
Today, thinking and acting strategically, making investments, are the required attributes of high performing nonprofit organizations and this reality makes investing in building your workforce essential.
In thinking about revenue planning, forward thinking nonprofits begin with maximizing their strengths. They invest strategy, time, money, human resources, and build systems to support strength. So ask yourself where is the strength in your organization’s revenues. Are you investing in that strength? Can you invest more?
The bottom line is that the most effective nonprofits I know, do not hesitate to invest in planning and thinking strategically. Conversely, those nonprofits with an uncertain future choose to focus on the immediate rather than the long view. The future is coming and inaction is not an option. It is up to the leadership of nonprofits to Shape, Adapt, or Reserve. The choice is yours.
I will be blunt on this point. Leaving a nonprofit to flounder without a plan when there is a leadership transition is not only poor leadership and governance but I feel that it borders on malpractice.