Nonprofits Need to Think About the Next Six to Nine Months

Each month our industry experts of 30 Ashley|Rountree consultants gather to examine and deliberate the latest trends and share stories. Today we discussed the current state of affairs for the nonprofit world. It was definitely a broad-ranging conversation but for now I will focus on one topic:

Nonprofits need to think about the next six to nine months.

Just eight weeks ago our world flipped when services and events were delayed or cancelled and many of us were forced into isolation and working remotely. We advised our clients to reach out to donors, tell your story and even ask for donations to support your mission. We have heard several successful stories and we congratulate all on those achievements.

Now — with the immediate impact behind us and our community beginning to “open up” — it is time to start educating and having transparent discussions with your Board regarding the future. The strategic plan and its operational initiatives may have been or need to be shifted due to the pandemic. Or, you may weigh and decide that the milestones, resources and timetables stated in the plan remain in place, but how you strive for them require tactical changes. Those nonprofits that are challenging themselves to innovate and create, including through synergies or collaborations with other nonprofits, will rise through this storm for their constituents. Some items to consider:

  • Update your Board – be transparent and educate your Board on latest trends, how your nonprofit is being affected and what that may mean going forward;
  • Review your strategic and operational plans – ask what is most important at this juncture to your mission and how do you prioritize and balance service delivery and cash flow;
  • Survey your constituencies – find out what they see as relevant to your mission and how best to engage with them; if you are a cultural organization, find out what are the barriers for attendance; (see article link below)
  • Focus on key issues – do not be sidetracked by other off-base or distracting voices;
  • Have teams work on multiple plans or scenarios – the verb innovate is defined as making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products;
  • Test new ideas – for many nonprofits and their funders, it’s a whole new world, and there is no time better to test new ideas or to hit ‘pause’ on previous methods that may have run their course;
  • Start putting plans into action – these plans will take time to execute; allow for changes that might need to occur throughout the process.

These are just some steps in the process of planning for a future that is unknown. Ashley|Rountree can help advise and work with teams as you plan for the near future. The important thing is to start doing this now!

The Ashley|Rountree team can be data-nerds and if you are too (and especially if you are a cultural organization), check out this site from Colleen Dilenschneider. Colleen sends weekly articles that are data-informed and always on topic.

Other reports outlining donor trends you may want to read this weekend: The NonProfit Times indicates donors are on the sidelines waiting for the end of the pandemic and CCS Fundraising issued their Fundraising Impact of COVID-19.

As always, feel free to call me or any of our team members for guidance or counsel whether it be fundraising, strategic alignment and planning or searches.