Since the Great Recession in 2008 and beyond, most nonprofit leaders would agree that the world has changed. The way they seek funds, provide services and communicate about itself have all changed. To be successful in this “new world,” nonprofits and ministries need to take note of five trends that have occurred as a result of economic changes.
- Staying Mission True
People are tired of nonprofits being all over the place, trying this and that. Instead, they want organizations to be true to their missions. Review your mission statement and tweak it, but stay true to it. What is it your organization is really good at doing? What doesn’t it do well? What would “the world” look like if you accomplished your mission? It is only when we stay mission true that we can be mission driven.
- Employees vs. Outsourcing
During the recession many organizations (and businesses) were faced with the difficult task of laying off or terminating employees. And, in many cases, once employees left, the organization began looking at better and more efficient ways to get things done. As a result, it was often discovered that certain roles did not need a full-time employee, but could instead be completed just as well with an outside contractor or a part-time employee. This trend is likely to continue as technology has opened many doors to maximize resources. Donors understand this trend and are likely to look at organizations with a critical eye as they wonder if positions are necessary or if the work could be done more effectively and efficiently using other strategies. And, often, when work is outsourced, the organization is able to get the services of a subject matter expert, something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
- Partner Networks
As organizations work to become more effective and efficient, partners become more crucial. Partners are not necessarily donors, but are others who can provide the organization with resources, connections and ideas to solve problems and to operate more efficiently. Identify creative problem-solvers you want to get to know and bring them together in small groups. (Often in large groups people don’t feel valued, and it is important that everyone in your partner network feels valued and important). Give your partners an opportunity to provide insight and expertise to challenges you are facing; their ideas may be just what you need. And, often when they suggest a solution, they may also provide the funds to implement it. But remember, partners are more than just donations. They will probably become strong supporters of the organization, but at this point you are seeking their knowledge and expertise.
- Plan Strategically
Proverbs 29:18 tells us that without vision, the people will perish. Translated to nonprofit or ministry terms, we could say, “without vision, the organization will perish.” Vision is essential to fulfilling the mission of the organization because vision tells us what could be. Without a vision, people (donors, board members, employees, etc) lose interest in the work being done by the organization…a vision keeps them interested and motivated. Unfortunately, far too many organizations fail to take their vision to the next step…putting a plan in place to fulfill that vision. Begin by looking at where the organization is now and the vision for the future. What will it take to bridge the gap between the two? Lay out a plan to bridge the gap.
- Change is Inevitable
One thing the recession taught all of us is that change is inevitable. There is no such thing as solid ground, what we think is solid can always be shaken. The only solid thing that the organization has is its faith foundation – so building that is a necessity. Prior to the recession, many organizations had become comfortable…they knew what programs and services they wanted to offer, they had a group of faithful donors, the organization was fulfilling its mission and change was the far from their minds. But, one thing that the recession has taught us all is that we always need to be prepared for change. Today’s world is rapidly changing and for ministries and nonprofits to stay relevant, they need to be changing as well.
Note, we are not saying to change your mission and vision (who you are, what you stand for, etc), but what we are saying is that it might be necessary to change the way things have “always been done.”
Is your organization prepared for the “new world?” Are you seeing other changes facing your nonprofit or ministry?