Do organizations put their future at risk by not developing their capacity to build nonprofit long term resources?

Though they know how much they spend each year, few organizations are able to predict or plan for their long-term needs. The standard twelve-month budget cycle keeps the focus on quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year and generally does not consider resource needs beyond that timeframe.

When it comes to securing nonprofit long term resources, Midwest organizations face the same challenges as their counterparts in other parts of the country.

In a recent Strategic Organization survey of 30 Midwest based nonprofit organizations, results showed that while 90 percent report that their current budget allocations represent priorities of the Board and staff leadership, 75 percent did not have a multi-year funding plan that provides adequate resources to continue that support. The assumption that conditions will stay the same could place key stakeholders at risk.

In his monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Jim Collins writes, “The critical question is not “How much money do we make?” but “How can we develop a sustainable resource engine to deliver superior performance relative to our mission?”

As Collins suggests, organizations need to develop sustainable resources and move towards building more stable and reliable sources of funds. Leadership’s role in resource planning is to think critically and tangibly about what will be required in the future, and effectively explore how the environment will change.

Nonprofit leaders need to look at ways to shape those changes and position their organization to take advantage of them.

Leaders can begin by knowing what their ability is to secure and deploy resources and how well they currently engage their management teams and key volunteers in strategic thinking processes that result in determining what they will to do in the areas of:

  • Partnership and alliances.
  • Growth and expansion.
  • Contraction.
  • Innovation.

Organizations can face an uncertain future by applying foresight in developing a long-rang resource plan. Without these efforts, the future is at risk.

©2011The Strategic Organization

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