Flexibility Is Key for Nonprofits Except in These 2 Instances
That didn't take long. It's only been a few weeks since the start of 2023, and I already know the perfect word to sum up this year. Ready?
It’s “flexibility.” After all, it's hard not to pick up a magazine, listen to a fundraising podcast or read a business news article and not have the word “flexibility” come up again and again and again.
Flexibility is a great word, I'm a big fan. It's something that's helped me try new things, be open to forging paths for which I wasn't initially excited, and, most of all, from being flexible, I often learn some of the best life lessons.
So, while I welcome this renewed era and embrace of flexibility and fully agree it is a critical component to work today, there are some areas where flexibility is not the best business partner.
Where to Double Down on Flexibility
Make no mistake, I am not calling on you to be rigid. You want to be open and continue to pilot and try new things because that’s critical to your business growth and success. And, as we all know, not doing so can be costly, with volunteers and donors wanting to drive the greatest impact possible for the causes closest to their hearts.
You want to have a flexible work policy and create a great employee experience. With nonprofits reporting hardship filling open positions and surveys touting younger generations' workplace expectations, this is a great time to listen and find flexible ways to make getting work done at your organization easier for all.
Likewise, you want to embrace new ways to help employees feel a greater sense of belonging. How do you help staff feel closer to your mission and each other? Embrace this journey, be flexible, and see what you learn from exploring and deepening this aspect of your culture.
When to Lean Into Your Resolve
There are, however, times when flexibility means we put off doing important things because of uncertain times or some other priority. It’s time to steady the ship and show your resolve on these two needs for your organization that could unintendedly get bumped as you try to embrace more flexibility.
1. Mission Creep
The first ties to your mission. Watch out for mission creep. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, use this time to lean into your core mission more.
Reconfirm who you are and why you do what you do. Foster that greater sense of belonging by having staff share why they do the work they do, learn what is it about your mission that drives their passion for your cause. Do the same with your supporters, too. Then, double down on communicating mission and the real impact your organization is helping to drive with key audiences near and far.
2. Culture Strength
Second, build a stronger culture. No, if, ands or buts, a collective shared culture is your core and is critical to success today. Our sector has often put this off, opting to believe the myth that you don’t need a strong culture when you work for your passion. The stronger the culture, the stronger everything else gets, too.
It can be tempting to put building a stronger culture on a back burner while you try to solve supply chain issues or other economic realities, but don’t. Like compounding interest, a stronger culture has a stronger payout for your people, your work and your organization’s lasting impact.
So, here’s to flexibility being the word of the year and as we go through this year, continuing to be open to new ways of working and driving impact while also making sure your mission and your people never feel unwavering support.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Sue Citro is the chief experience officer at Best Friends Animal Society and is responsible for how the development, digital, marketing communications and brand experience teams collaborate and work in new ways to bring more people into Best Friends’ lifesaving work. Before joining Best Friends, Sue led new digital expansions for The Nature Conservancy in Asia and Latin America. She started her career working at Peace Corps headquarters, followed by time at a direct mail agency and then consulting in the digital fundraising space with nonprofits large and small.
Sue holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Jeremy, and 103 lb. rescued dog, "Little" Luca.