Organizational Growth: Taking Your Nonprofit to the Next Level
Now that you have your visionary and blocker, you can look at the rest of your organization and tackle a few more very common and very challenging Holy Grails:
1. A wonderful, dedicated team of people who all roll up their sleeves and do what's asked (aside from one or two from the above list) and now need to see things differently. This is another key place I've seen growth fall apart in organizations. Say you have a fantastic program manager who also happens to like to write or take photographs or even worked at a previous organization in HR. Or the opposite, a great development person who decided to make the leap to field work but still manages the direct-mail program because he or she has the knowledge. Those roles need to be clearly, concisely and completely defined, and those roles and responsibilities need to be put where they belong.
It's uncomfortable just reading it, isn't it? You've been there before. We all have. Some of the most heartbreaking moments are when a practitioner from one area has to stand up to a well-meaning and passionate colleague and say, "Actually, that's my job." It creates a chasm immediately, and sometimes that trust is never rebuilt.
It’s natural. We don’t like to let go of things — even if holding on costs us a collective rate of growth because we can’t expand into the roles we’re most qualified and needed to do. I used to have a saying with team members: “Do your job. No, your job. Not mine, not his, not ours. If you think you’re better qualified, wait until someone gets beat down or quits and send in your résumé.”
It really is painful to watch a burgeoning nonprofit hit this rock wall over and over and over. If we spent more time thinking we’re glad somebody else is an expert in XYZ than taking a session at a conference and thinking we are now qualified to do XYZ, partnerships between divisions would be a lot smoother and the end result of changing the fate of whomever or whatever we serve would happen a lot quicker.
So, I'm a fundraiser having a mid-life crisis. And that's perfectly fine with me.
I am taking time to look around, lift my head and find REAL people who really want to change the world. And people smart enough to do it. Join me in this fun journey. I have no idea where we will end up - and that is the beauty of it. I'm nonprofit passionate, a hopeful world changer, and always ready to share what I know, learn what I don't, admit when I can't, and ask the hard questions.
While you're looking around for other areas of inspiration, check out The Moth Project at themoth.org (the podcasts are AMAZING), TED talks (doesn't matter which ones - find topics that interest you) and Volunteer Voices (again - love the podcast) written by volunteers from the Peace Corps. Don't see the immediate connection to being a better fundraiser? Just listen, you'll hear the message ...