Nonprofits have been through the mill in the last few years. We are coming out the other side of the storm. But how will standout nonprofits do it? Look at what’s right about your organization, and then add more of that to your recipe for success. In this way, you will act like a winner.
I predict that standout nonprofits will fortify their mission, make their case and serve their constituency…successfully.
An opportunity: It looks like the Economy is going to rebound because of the tax bill that passed in December. More people will have more money to spend, so the economy will improve. We won’t be flourishing, because need will be great because we’ve now had almost two years of 10% unemployment and an average of 19.3% underemployment. These numbers mean there is a huge portion of the population in severe need and in trauma. That means there are lots of people to serve. Go serve them.
An opportunity: Because there will be greater pressure on nonprofits to deliver more services to those in need, resources available for nonprofits will improve, and in order to take advantage of opportunities, nonprofits must get out of their doldrums and start taking the initiative to secure creative new means of funding to support their mission.
An opportunity: There will be a shakeout. At the same time that nonprofits are trying to climb out of the economy pit, there are an unprecedented number of new nonprofits on the scene competing for a piece of the funding pie. Smart ones will look at merging, consolidating, and combining resources with other like mission oriented entities. Those that don’t will run out of resources and shut down. Smart nonprofits won’t stick their head in the sand.
An opportunity: Winners are more likely to be unique. Copycats, who see something romantic about another group and mimic them, will lose because they have sacrificed their unique mission to be like another group. Be yourself. What was your original mission? Are you trying to compete with another nonprofit? Could this destroy both of you? Think about it.
An opportunity: Nonprofits will get back to the business at hand – following their mission. Years past, some large foundations assets shrank because of the economy. Because they had less money to work with, they encouraged nonprofits to become more self-sustaining, explaining that nonprofit self sufficiency would be a permanent fixture in the future. In response, many nonprofits started side-businesses to deliver services and goods for a fee. Many of these side businesses weren’t related to the mission of the nonprofit, and placed the nonprofit in the middle of the for-profit world. The likelihood of this working was unlikely and could create profound negative consequences for the nonprofits themselves. This decade nonprofits will remember what their clear mission is and stick to it. No more sidetracks to mission. That is, unless the side-business is related to their mission.
An opportunity: Smart nonprofits will learn to leverage technology in order to market their mission and engage their constituency. This affordable means of communication is the only way to go. They will realize that their website and the web in general is their new business card. Anyone who is not using technology towards furthering their mission might just shut down. The Internet will help you connect with donors, shareholders, volunteers, and users. Use Facebook and Twitter, keep your web site updated, and send out messages. Engage in social marketing. How? Use Txnp.org.
TexasNonprofits is the way to go in Texas (not to brag) if you want to engage the philanthropic community and market your organization and its mission around the web. Members of TXNP can circulate their press releases, author compelling stories about foundations, corporations, nonprofits, spread their good news, post jobs, volunteer opportunities, wish list needs, advertise their events to draw attendees, announce fundraising appeals…the list goes on and on. TXNP can help a nonprofit of any size magnify their message by way of our huge megaphone, lots of eyes and the fact that we are in the top 300,000 (and growing every single day) websites in the world. Texas is the only state that has such a flourishing resource. Imagine a town square full of exciting discourse and ideas – happy and fulfilled learners and doers all together in the same place – www.txnp.org. What an incredible value fueled with passion to provide the best for Texas.
An opportunity: Standout nonprofits will manage their time and resources well by figuring out what the most important things to do are, getting clear about them, and doing them in an orderly fashion. Multi tasking is unproductive. Take it from me. I thought I was one of the great multi- taskers out there, but I realized that spreading myself too thin made me 50% less productive and 30% more likely of making mistakes. What did I do about it? I learned to focus by managing the time I spend on various tasks. My greatest resource is time. I spend it wisely with few distractions.
An opportunity: Standout nonprofits will include permanent innovation into their mission year round — no in one-shot, random, intermittent bursts. Langdon Morris of Innovation Labs says, “To spur innovation nonprofits will remember their quest – scaling an impossible cliff through which you commit to making the impossible real. It’s only impossible because it hasn’t been done yet. We need a structure and process to do this. Listen to your spontaneous intuition – we have become too technical through measurement that usually means nothing. Innovation follows a rhythm by looking for divergence (new ideas) and convergence (filter to see how it applies it us). Today we can get lots of ideas because of the internet – to find new innovation – get lots of new input – smart people + lots of information = new ideas. Look for surprises – be excited about being wrong because that means you’ve discovered something new. A surprise is an unexpected discovery of an assumption. Overturning an assumption also makes what’s impossible possible. Engage many viewpoints – embrace diversity.”
An opportunity: Ask questions. The right question can lead to a breakthrough. Great nonprofits will ask, “Why?” Great questions will inspire you to new ways of accomplishing your mission. “What if?” Questions invite creative tension, and creative tension leads to vision and innovation.
An opportunity: Warren Buffet says organizations will “Converse like real human beings…no stiff jargon with successful groups. Great groups will admit mistakes and move on. Great leaders will know the power of humor.”
Think like a winner. Act like a winner. Have a great 2011. Join TXNP.