Today’s rapidly evolving business environment requires the management of organizational change on a more intensive scale than ever before. Nonprofit leaders are being called on to make smarter, more strategic decisions while under intense pressure to maintain operations.
As nonprofit leaders, it seems like the business environment we’re operating in is changing by the hour. Supply chain issues. Inflation. Rising interest rates. Stock market declines. All of which bring up concerns about fundraising sustainability and organizational capacity building.
It turns out this level of uncertainty is not just our perceptions. In October 2022, the Harvard Business Review revealed that:
If you carefully examine the factors that drive unpredictability in complex systems, you discover that in most sectors of the economy they have intensified. The result is that the number of potential future states that executives need to account for in making strategic choices has skyrocketed.
What’s a nonprofit leader to do?
1) Embrace adaptability in a rapidly evolving business environment
Contrary to what some might expect, adaptability isn’t about operating without a plan. Truly embracing and benefitting from the power of adaptability in a rapidly changing business environment requires starting with a solid roadmap for what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. Once you understand those basics, when detours arise you’ll still know where you’re going and be better prepared to get back on track.
2) Identify your organizational strengths and assets
A comprehensive SWOT analysis—which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats—can enable you to map your organization’s internal assets and identify areas for improvement. By focusing on strengthening your organization from the inside out, you’ll be in a stronger position to weather challenges.
3) Invest in strategic planning
As a nonprofit leader, a strategic plan is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. It can motivate your staff, inspire your board and volunteers, and serve as a valuable fundraising tool. In a business environment marked by uncertainty, your donors and stakeholders will be grateful to see that your organization is committed to maintaining impact today while also planning for the long-term.
In short, your best preparation is creating a strong, forward-looking organization.
Perhaps most of all, then, the rapidly evolving business environment requires the management of expectations.
This is where nonprofit leaders have an incredible amount of power. As you work with your donors, board, and other stakeholders, your organization can set expectations, rather than having expectations set for you. For example, you can define the answers to questions like:
- How much can you achieve and in what time horizon?
- What are some potential challenges ahead and how are you preparing for them?
- How will you balance impact today with long-term sustainability?
Answer these types of questions along with your strategic plan, and you’ll be ready to navigate whatever challenges come your way in tumultuous times.
For more practical tools to build your organization’s capacity today, check out our 2023 Webinar Series: Nonprofit Capacity Building.