Nonprofit management issues happen! Here are some tips on how to address common problems.
How a nonprofit manages and executes its strategy can make the difference between being successful in reaching its goals or not. Management issues effect nonprofits every day and the chances of running into an issue at some point are almost guaranteed. The best way to avoid a nonprofit management issue in the future is to consider what could go wrong and plan for the unexpected accordingly. In today’s blog post we will examine five of the most common issues that nonprofit management often face and a few tips to resolve them.
Did you know? 34% of nonprofit management say lack of resources prevents impact assessment
Nonprofit Management Issue #1: Not Making Decisions Based on Mission
One nonprofit management issue that a lot of organizations run into is not basing their decision-making on their organization’s mission and values. Making decisions solely on intuitions or spur of the moment benefits is not the best approach for nonprofits focusing on sustainability. Mission creep is one of the most common and greatest threats in the nonprofit sector.
What is mission creep? Mission creep is a change that pushes a nonprofit past its original goals and objectives. Mission creep can cause a nonprofit to overextend their organization, cause processes to become ineffective, and produce a change in brand perception (both internal or external).
How should a nonprofit prevent mission creep? The best way to prevent mission creep is to communicate effectively and often with both internal and external organizational stakeholders. Nonprofits need to develop a mission that is sustainable over time. Another way to avoid mission creep is for nonprofit management to say “no” to decisions that can potentially push their organization’s overall goals off course. Focusing effort on effective decision-making processes and sticking to the original organizational plan is often times the best way to avoid a problem stemming from mission creep in the future.
Here are a few questions to ask to ensure you are making decisions based on your organizational mission:
- Is your nonprofit using your mission statement as a filter for an effective decision-making strategy?
- Is the nonprofit management issue stemming from the lack of ability to say “no”?
- How could a potential decision impact your nonprofit organization short term? Long term?
- Is your nonprofit organization committed to its mission and vision?
- Is your nonprofit’s mission clear to all internal and external stakeholders (are there loopholes?)
- Has your nonprofit developed an internal decision-making guideline?
Nonprofit Management Issue #2: No Succession Plan
Another common management issue in the nonprofit sector is the lack of a strategic succession plan. Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new leaders who will replace existing leaders in the future. Not having a succession plan in place can lead to unwarranted process changes, a blurred vision, and the potential of another nonprofit management issue. Harvard Business Review recently provided four great tips when creating a succession plan. Here are the tips they provided:
- Focus your effort on succession development and not planning (change the name)
- Measure your outcomes and let them dictate your process.
- Develop a plan based on simplicity.
- Be realistic about your succession plan expectations.
Nonprofit Management Issue #3: Lack of Strategic Budgeting
One of the biggest challenges in the nonprofit industry and for a successful volunteer management system is strategic budgeting. Budgeting can be difficult in the nonprofit industry as most organizations do not have access to a lot of excess funds. How your nonprofit plans and executes its budget can make or break organizational success. Here are a few tips to consider when analyzing your current budget:
- Is your nonprofit budgeting for income first?
- Does your nonprofit fully understand your sources of revenue?
- Can the budget easily be presented and executed by key stakeholders in the organization?
- Has your organization included the appropriate level of detail in the plan to effectively communicate it?
- Has your nonprofit analyzed advancements in technology that may make the process of budgeting, tracking, and reporting more streamlined and accurate?
Nonprofit Management Issue #4: Limited Operational Time Tracking
Tracking time in a nonprofit is invaluable. The data gathered can help your organization realize how many employees and volunteers are required to achieve the mission strategically. Effective time tracking can also open up the door for additional time allocation in areas of the nonprofit that needs more development. Your nonprofit should also be actively tracking your volunteer time and reporting this data to them for their own personal records. Having a system in place makes your organization look more professional and can increase your retention rates. Here are four additional benefits of effective time tracking:
- Time tracking can alleviate the stress of a potential audit
- Time tracking can help to initiate a reward and recognition program for volunteers (this increases engagement)
- Time tracking can help increase the chances of grant eligibility
- Time tracking can improve management potential and process
Advancements in Technology
Nonprofits have not been known in the past for keeping up with technology changes. The reason for this gap is most likely the fact that nonprofits are consistently working effortlessly towards their mission with limited resources. The problem is many of the technological advancements of today can help a nonprofit streamline their processes and create time savings. Nonprofits can take advantage of tools for fundraising, software for volunteer management, and many more advancements that can help strengthen internal and external processes.
Almost all nonprofits are going to experience the inevitable management issue at some point. A few of the most common issues are not making decisions with the organizational mission in mind, the lack of a succession plan, a budget planning process that is blurred, a nonexistent time track process, and not keeping up with advancements in technology that can push an organization closer to achieving goals.
The good news is all of these issues can be diverted with careful planning and strategic execution.