“When it is your calling, you won’t have to chase it. You will be captivated by it,”–John Maxwell
John Maxwell’s words encapsulate the essence of every nonprofit organization’s journey. The passion and commitment to a cause drive nonprofits, but lean times can test even the most dedicated hearts.
I pre-ordered Donald Miller’s book How to Grow Your Small Business: A 6-Step Plan to Help Your Business Take Off, and it is the next business book on my list to read. In the first chapter, I read about how small business owners operate on a tight budget. I know that my business does. Keeping pricing competitive and aligned with what nonprofit clients can afford is a struggle. It made me start thinking about nonprofit challenges during lean times.
This blog post will explore strategies inspired by Donald Miller’s wisdom. We will offer three thought-provoking ideas and two inspiring concepts to help nonprofits remain engaged and continue moving forward during challenging periods. Finally, we’ll conclude with one actionable item to set your organization on the path to resilience and success.
Three Thoughts to Provoke
1. Reconnect with Your Why
When times are tough, losing sight of your organization’s purpose is easy. In his book “How to Grow Your Small Business,” Donald Miller emphasizes the importance of revisiting your ‘why.’ The core mission and the impact your nonprofit strives to create should be your North Star.
Now is the time to gather your team and volunteers for a reflective session. Share stories of the lives your organization has touched. Just today, a client sent great testimonials from their summer programming, helping us focus on why we do what we do.
“In the face of adversity, nonprofits must remember that their purpose is the compass that guides them through the storm.”— Lisa Olinda
Rekindle the passion that initially fueled your efforts. When your ‘why’ is crystal clear, it becomes your guiding force, keeping you motivated during lean times.
2. Diversify Revenue Streams
Lean times often expose vulnerabilities in relying on a single source of funding. Consider diversifying your revenue streams. Explore grants, corporate partnerships, and individual donations. Host virtual fundraising events or online campaigns that can engage a broader audience. Remember that your supporters share your passion; they need to be reminded of the impact they can make. Effective storytelling through social media and email marketing can help re-engage your donor base.
“Diversify your revenue streams like a tree with deep roots, and you’ll weather any financial drought.”— Lisa Olinda
3. Adapt and Innovate
Nonprofits often need help with resource constraints. However, lean times can be an opportunity to innovate. Consider reevaluating your programs and services to identify cost-effective ways to achieve your mission. Collaborate with other nonprofits to pool resources and share expertise. Embrace technology to streamline operations and reach a wider audience. The ability to adapt and innovate is a hallmark of successful nonprofits.
“Lean times are an opportunity for nonprofits to innovate, adapt, and discover new paths to impact.”— Lisa Olinda
Two Ideas to Inspire:
1. Create a Resilience Committee
Form a dedicated team within your organization to anticipate and address lean times. This committee can brainstorm contingency plans, explore new revenue streams, and develop strategies to weather financial challenges. By proactively planning for lean times, you’ll be better prepared to navigate them when they arise.
2. Engage with Your Community
Do you need to strengthen your community ties? Lean times are an opportunity to improve your community ties. Host virtual town halls or webinars to inform your supporters about your organization’s challenges and successes. Encourage open dialogue and feedback. Your community can provide valuable insights and volunteer support to help you overcome lean times.
“The heart of a nonprofit beats strongest when it beats in sync with the community it serves.”— Lisa Olinda
One Action Item
Create a Sustainability Plan:
In collaboration with your board, staff, and key stakeholders, develop a sustainability plan outlining financial stability strategies during lean times. This plan should include diversification of revenue sources, cost-saving measures, and clear benchmarks for success. Regularly review and update this plan to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Lean times are inevitable in a nonprofit’s journey or your small business. But you should still have your mission. By reconnecting with your ‘why,’ diversifying revenue streams, and embracing innovation, your organization can weather these challenges and emerge stronger and more resilient. Inspired by Donald Miller’s wisdom and driven by your calling, you can navigate lean times with grace, determination, and an unwavering commitment to positively impacting the world.