5 Signs Your Nonprofit Needs Help

By Katie Tejada

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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When a nonprofit needs help, it’s usually ineffective strategic planning, erratic financial management, and stagnant growth that are the prevalent problems they face. In the wake of a crisis, leaders of these organizations can face supply chain issues, team shortages, and operational challenges in a new and overwhelming light.

How global problems transform economic consequences changes the scope of a leader’s roles and responsibilities. The issues leaders face demand decisiveness, compassion, and concrete action. Asking for help is not an admission of defeat but an example of courage.

1. Strategic Plan Lacks Vision

strategic plan is an organization’s road map, and goals are the signposts directing the route. Without a clearly defined long-term strategy and short-term goals, an organization is at risk of losing direction and motivation.

As a best-selling author, Jim Collins is fond of saying: “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any. “An intelligent leader will set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Without SMART goals, your team will veer off course into unexpected roadblocks, eventually running out of fuel and losing sight of the final destination.

In times of crisis, a strategic plan will be the difference between the organizations that flourish and fade away. Communication is crucial, and every employee must remain aligned with the goals from which their workflows. 

Strengthen the Channel of Communication 

Regular, transparent, honest communication is the key to keeping an organization on track with its strategic plan. Reassure your employees of the steps you are taking to overcome the crisis and reiterate your goals so that everyone is motivated and equipped to keep the vision alive. In demonstrating that each employee is valued and recognized, supportive culture is fostered. 

2. Office Atmosphere Is Unproductive

You have just come up for air after a stressful week and realize that the general atmosphere is tense and uncomfortable. Your team needs to know that you have their best interests in mind and that you are doing everything in your power to protect their health and safety at work. 

The Times video, “The Leader We Wish We All Had,” describes Dr. Amy Acton as the state’s most “effective messenger” and “the brains behind the state’s early, aggressive coronavirus response.” Acton’s ability to empower people through regular briefings exemplifies the importance of transparent, frequent communication, especially during a crisis. 

Take time to address your team’s less tangible psychological needs by demonstrating competence and consideration for your team’s well-being. Introduce health and safety protocols and, if possible, invite employees to work from home. There is a strong likelihood that they will be more productive in a familiar environment, which will benefit their mental well-being and the nonprofit organization.  

3. Budget Has Collapsed

2020 taught us that even the best budgets are not immune to the consequences of a crisis, and nonprofits have taken an immense toll financially. Leaders need to be able to strategize for both significant and minor setbacks, including:

● Reforecasting budgets each quarter based on actual performance compared to past or predicted performance. 

● Ensuring there is a surplus for unexpected obstacles, such as the loss of a donor

● Developing a decision-making guideline to navigate setbacks efficiently and effectively. 

The U.S.’s nonprofit sector employs approximately 12.5 million people. Strategic budgeting ensures that a nonprofit can serve its purpose and retain the employees who rely on the organization for their livelihoods. Nonprofits must have a financial plan that:

● Articulates how the organization allocates finances. 

● Illustrates how the budget will align with mission-related goals. 

● Is measurable and recorded for future reference. 

● Provides some room for unforeseen expenses, such as the loss of a donor.

A good leader understands that a strategic budget is not only a management tool that sustains their preferable tax designation; it is also a vital resource that requires consistent and responsible management.

However, being a good leader is not synonymous with being good at everything. Where your knowledge falls short, you need to ask for help or risk jeopardizing the organization. 

The revenue-generating activities and fund-raising initiatives that nonprofit strategic budgets rely on have been hard hit. However, some foundations have stepped up to show support by offering special grants to alleviate the threat to short-term operations. 

4. Experiencing Stagnant Growth

Stagnant growth has long been identified as one of the issues nonprofits may face, and this is, in part, due to their high turnover rates.

According to the Nonprofit Quarterly, the turnover rate in nonprofits has jumped from 16% to 19% in the last few years. As the revolving door in nonprofits keeps turning, the budget is negatively affected due to the associated costs involved. Additionally, it becomes harder for the organization to adhere to its strategic plan and estimated timeline for pre-determined goals. 

5. Experiencing Burnout

Herbert Freudenberger first introduced the term burnout into mainstream literature in 1970, defining it as a “state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one’s professional life.” Now and again, even the rescuer needs a lifeline. Good leaders do not operate in a vacuum; they work in a team and amalgamate every individual’s abilities to:

● Optimize performance 

● Reach long and short-term goals

● Reach the final destination on their strategic plan. 

Taking time off, delegating, and asking for help are all small actions leaders can take to care of themselves. Think of it as your strategic plan. The long-term goal is to make the nonprofit a success through sound leadership, but the decisions you make daily will see you through to that goal.  

Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis, it is easy to identify.

When a crisis strikes on a global scale, the way leaders approach their strategy can be radically different from one another. For example, New Zealand implemented one of the most significant travel restrictions in its modern history, whereas Sweden took a gamble on ‘herd immunity’ and left the country functioning normally.

Though different, the decisions are fundamentally linked. They were made decisively, communicated clearly, and affected with immediacy. Taking charge is a hallmark of leadership in times of crisis. Leaders must have the ability to pivot, adjust and adapt to guide their teams through adversity. 

 Both leaders in the example above would have received guidance from internal and external parties who are well-versed in the issues at stake. Equipped with the relevant resources, they were able to demonstrate leadership. 

Are You the Leader of a Nonprofit?

We hope the above tips will help you lead your nonprofit successfully and inspire you to find the support your business requires. We want to help you lead your nonprofit successfully by giving you the necessary tools.

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!’

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Katie Tejada
Katie Tejada
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.
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