What Measures Are You Taking To Protect Your Nonprofit Organization
Change is inevitable. Change is often ultimately good – though sometimes difficult. As I write this, the trees are blooming and a baby rabbit runs through our backyard yet a spring storm is on the horizon. Some change, like that of the seasons, is predictable. However, other changes, such as the storms of life and business, are not. What are you doing to weather change in your organization?
Review Your Current Situation
Consider the current state of your organization or a change that might be looming on your horizon. Maybe changes are pending with regard to key personnel or a merger might be in your future, or perhaps you’re considering new programs, or eyeing a potential loss of funding. If you take the time to review, I’m sure you’ll be able to identify some significant change coming your way.
Now that you have a change in mind, take a moment to think about how you got to this point.
Predict the Weather
Known, or at least predictable, change is always much easier to address than the unknown. And, as humans, we do everything we can (think smartphone alerts) to be in the know. The same can be said for your organization. What are you doing to predict change and mitigate risks? Some ideas might include:
- Identify a succession plan
- Draw up a long-term strategy
- Take care of key employees and understand their life situations
- Monitor your programs to know which ones are struggling
- Communicate with key donors to determine short and long-term funding goals
Inevitably, even with all the planning in the world, something will happen that will catch you off your guard – a pop-up storm, if you will. While these events might somewhat succeed in disrupting the organization, with a bit of planning, you can be sure that your foundation is solid.
Prepare for Change
As you ponder the potential changes that came to mind in your current situation, consider the “what” question. For personnel changes, succession planning is critical – whether long-term or in an emergency. What long-term plans do you currently have in place for your key employees? Have you taken the time to document (at least informally) employee duties? Have you provided cross-training with regard to the tasks these key employees perform? In considering new programs or a merger, have you considered how one change will shape the appearance of the organization as a whole? And finally, what is the end goal of the change that you are contemplating?
Communicate through Change
One of the most difficult, and often underdeveloped, aspects of change is communication. Rather, communication is the key piece to weathering change in any organization. Just having a well-developed plan of action will not allow for effective implementation of an upcoming change. Having a plan for communication throughout the process is also critical.
Even during the beginning stages of a change taking place, having the right people at the table is important – including internal employees and external advisors. Certain communications, written and verbal, will be necessary to ensure that all necessary parties are informed and can weigh in on the development of the action plan. As the process continues to unfold, additional key players may be tapped.
Throughout the process, it’s important to remember that everyone will respond to change differently. Some prefer to ask questions – maybe duplicating considerations that you as a leader have already processed and concluded on. Others need time to come to their own conclusions. Some feel empowered by having input. And so on … Recognizing how others cope with change will help shape your communication strategy.
Learn through the Process
Oftentimes we move through a period of change and, due to the whirlwind of life and our work, we fail to contemplate the gravity of what has just occurred. So often, organizations and individuals just move from one thing to the next never really stopping for a moment to learn from the experience. Set aside some time to speak with those impacted by or those who were involved in the change to debrief on the matter. You are sure to get feedback that can be used the next time you encounter a change – regardless of whether the change is seasonal or a pop-up storm.
Rea is Here to Help
A best practice to consider is to bring in outside advisors who have “been there, done that.” The nonprofit services team at Rea & Associates has a range of expertise and experience to help you weather your impending changes. Email us today to talk with a specialist on the matter.
By Mark Beebe, CPA (Dublin office)