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Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency

A good number of nonprofit organizations appear to operate on a monthly-to-quarterly to end-of-year squeaking by. It gets tiresome for Board members and staff to go through the same annual budgeting and allocation fights, without real hopes of breaking out of the cycle of drastic cost-cutting measures. One day the leadership in the organization must come to realize that “business-as-usual” will no longer suffice. But – how to ramp up to the next level of operation when immediate service concerns tend to overwhelm every moment of rational planning?

Taking the next step requires firm institutional leadership. Perhaps the organization can secure a “planning grant” or a “development grant” from a local foundation for just the specific purpose of redefining its management and strategic capacity. Perhaps a member of the Board (or the concerned corporation) might agree to provide some resources over a specific time period for just this sort of project to develop a plan for self-sufficiency. In such an instance, the organization should secure external assistance to work with its leaders to forge such a plan.

A comprehensive development plan will look different in each institution. There is not one approach that will work for everyone. But there are some principles involved that may usually be applied to good effect:

  • The Mission must be reviewed within contextual analysis
  • Goals must reflect the core Mission of the institution
  • Objectives must be stated in measurable terms
  • Information sources should be well documented
  • Survey and testing instruments should be identified
  • Appropriate personnel must be held accountable to deadlines
  • Reports must be analyzed according to delineated schedules
  • Accomplishments must be disseminated to all stakeholders
  • Resources must be allocated to the highest priorities
  • A Success Model, once identified, should become a new standard.
Any firm that is retained to provide technical assistance to such a nonprofit organization should implement a strategy to develop expertise internal to the organization so that the people within will acquire the skills and insights they need to maintain a high level of excellence in all units impacted. That is one of the primary objectives that CommunityNexus Consulting keeps in the forefront when we work with such ambitious institutions in the nonprofit world. We welcome the opportunity to work with any organization that has the desire to “move up” to the next level of management and governance.
 
 

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