One of the primary reasons I decided I wanted to work with nonprofit organizations is because I respect the work they do. I value the difference they try to make in the lives of the people they serve. Often times it’s with very little money and minimal resources. Nevertheless, they seem to get so much done.
At the end of the day, nonprofit leaders aren’t in it for the money. They want to see real change. Most are willing to do it one life at a time. And I believe the ones who are in it for the long haul take this to heart. They don’t try to change every body, they just want to make a positive change for some body.
I’ve been working for and with nonprofit organizations for the past 15 years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some honorable organizations that really care about what they’re doing. They care about the people they’re doing it for. Those with ulterior motives, don’t make it.
Running a nonprofit organization is hard work. Just like any other business. When the funding gets low, the grants are few, and the staff is dwindling, it’s tempting to throw in the towel. Many question if it’s all worth it. Well, when you inevitably get to that crossroads, and consider throwing in the towel, I want you to ask yourself a question.
“Will people miss you when you’re gone?”
If you packed up and stopped delivering services to your community, would it make a difference? What would change? What would happen to your target population?
This a powerful question for a couple of reasons. One, it will show you what you’re doing right. Or two, it could show you what you’re doing wrong.
If you’re making an impact, and can honestly say that your organization would be missed, then that’s great motivation to keep going.
On the other hand, if you don’t think your absence would make a difference, then you may need to reassess what you’re doing.
Here are some things I want you to consider:
- What was your initial intention when you started? Has your intention changed? Have your priorities shifted? It could be that your services are no longer relevant, or your services may no longer be necessary with your target population. It’s a good idea to get with your board of directors to reassess your goals and objectives every 3-5 years. This will help ensure you’re staying focused and accomplishing your goals.
- Define your niche. What is it that you do that nobody else does, or at least can’t do as well. If you’re just duplicating services in your community, it could easily render your organization ineffective and unnecessary. If this is the case, you may want to collaborate with the organization that’s more effective in that area. On the other hand, if you’re not playing up to your organizational strengths, you need to consider making some changes.
- Figure out what you can do differently to improve your standing. How can you make things better for your target population or community? Solicit their feedback and get the truth on how you’re performing. Conduct surveys or focus groups. Find out what they want and need. Then, get busy trying to make it a reality.
Most people who start a nonprofit organization do so because they have a genuine desire to effect change. You want to make an impact. If you’re not making an impact, why do it?
So, here is my final word of advice – ask yourself the tough questions. Let the answers propel you to the next level.
Until next time…
Peace & Blessings!