Ignore Infrastructure at Your Nonprofit’s Peril

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “infrastructure” as: “The underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization).”

Not particularly alluring.

Programs and services. Working with clients. Effecting change. Now we’re talking. Yet, without effective infrastructure, these are not achievable.

Are You Leading your Nonprofit with Courage?

Leading a nonprofit is hard work. Internal and external issues arise that demand attention, and the solutions may not be easy. When issues go unattended, they may become so significant that they potentially endanger the organization in some way. But this doesn’t need to be the case. With a strong leadership and skillful use of board meeting agendas, nonprofit executives and their boards can have the important conversations so they may be proactive and responsive and not caught off guard.

Why Aren’t You Talking to Each Other?

Nonprofit chief executives and their board members do not simply wake up one morning with the following revelations:

  • The demographics of the area they serve have changed;
  • Funding for a signature program is at risk; or
  • High staff turnover is a dangerous threat to service delivery.

Yet, nonprofit leaders confront these realities often. When I read a story or hear about a nonprofit in extremis, I wonder if the leadership has been asleep at the wheel. Did no one see the signs? Why did they not point these things out to each other? What were they (or were they not) talking about at board meetings?

Thanksgiving Edition: Sharing the Bounty

At this time of year, I’m especially grateful to my clients, colleagues, and friends for the privilege of working and growing together. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way – from you!

One of the great things about working with nonprofit leaders is the opportunity to learn new practices that are working for their organizations. These learnings are worth sharing with others across the nonprofit sector. Yet when nonprofit leaders gather with colleagues, it is usually with others in their field. It is not necessarily routine, for example, for a leader of a social service agency to meet with one from an arts organization. In my work with nonprofits of all kinds – arts, education, human services, community development, housing, and foundations – I often find myself as a conduit for this cross-pollination.

Don’t Miss Out: Why You Need to Engage Diverse Stakeholders in Strategic Planning

Don’t Miss Out: Why You Need to Engage Diverse Stakeholders in Strategic Planning

One of the most interesting and meaningful steps in the strategic planning process is engaging stakeholders, both internal and external. The insights you gain by eliciting a range of perspectives about your organization contributes to the creation of a high-impact strategic plan.

Who Are Your Stakeholders?

Internal stakeholders – namely, the board of directors and staff – have an intrinsic interest in the success of the organization they know so well. Each of these stakeholders has a unique and central voice in the planning process.

3 Reasons Why the Strategic Planning Process Is as Important as the Plan

If you have ever been involved with your organization’s strategic planning process (and I’m assuming you have), you may have had concerns about the overlay of activity on an already high-tempo organization.

However, there is wisdom to the time commitment required in strategic planning. The process of creating the strategic plan necessitates a deep and extended encounter with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals – as well as meaningful interactions among the stakeholders.

Beginning with my first strategic planning engagement, I knew the process was as important as the resulting plan. Being a process person by nature, what could be better?

How the Process Pays off – an Illustration

Let’s fast-forward through the entire strategic planning process to the time when the board of directors has officially adopted the plan.