August 03, 2011
Nonprofits today are living close to the line financially. This is a summary of the main challenges boards face:
- Avoiding the tactics trap. In times of crisis, board members may be tempted to forsake their strategic role and delve into the minutia. By focusing too much on tactics, however, a board risks losing its role as big-picture adviser, while dampening staff initiative and morale at the very time they’re needed most.
- Killing sacred cows. Boards are the ultimate keepers of the mission. This is a time to focus on the essence of what a nonprofit does best. It’s time to encourage staff to jettison, move, or partner programs that fall outside the sweet spot of the nonprofit’s mission, core skills, and core value proposition.
- Balancing poverty and potential. With a zero-fat budget and mounting debt, nonprofits may be tempted to adopt a bunker mentality that can sap an organization’s creativity. Boards must help nonprofit managers keep an eye on innovation and the future—finding avenues to serve the mission in differentiating new ways—while keeping a tight rein on expenses.
- Re-fueling board energy, staff energy, and brand energy. It’s more important than ever for a nonprofit to tell its stories of success in ways that are both consistent and compelling. Board and staff energy fuel the excitement and participation levels of everyone involved. Take time to celebrate the difference you are making.