Water Rolling

Keep your organization moving forward… your sustainability depends on it.

In this time of limited resources and increasing need, one of the most critical strategies toward sustainability is an adaptable, flexible and nimble management and governing team.

Six Steps That Will Improve Sustainability In Your Organization

1. Develop an organizational culture of constructive comment for both leadership and staff to ensure that new, innovative ideas are aired and considered.

2. Actively pursue and implement cutting edge research and best practices in serving your clients, and new techniques in resource development.

3. Ensure that long-term leadership is self-reflective, ready and able to meet 21st century challenges.

4. Attract board members with a diverse skill set that can advance the mission and define new frontiers.

5. Create an open and active program for developing young emerging leaders in all areas of your organization. This is an investment that will serve to retain valuable talent.

6. Develop a strong succession plan ensuring that current and future initiatives can be completed when faced with permanent or emergency gaps in staff or board membership.

Change is the catalyst for sustainability. With a steady stream of innovative thoughts, new perspectives, and creative approaches to decision making, your organization will be energized and prepared for sustainability moving forward.

Finally, the growth of the nonprofit sector is dependent on having open, candid, and self-reflective conversations with our leaders, our governing bodies, and our staffs.

Comments by Audrey Winkler, Principal of OMG! Organizational Management Group

diversity

Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector

When thinking of diversity, the first thing that comes to mind generally is ethnic diversity. While ethnic diversity is very important in the nonprofit world, there are other areas of diversity that are equally important.

I attended a nonprofit workshop recently and as I looked around the room I noticed an obvious diversity issue. There was a room full of Matures and Baby Boomers (ages 56 – 75). I wondered why several of the age groups were in limited attendance or not present.  Now, don’t get me wrong; these professionals were all very accomplished. However, there were only a few Generation X’ers (40-55), and a noticeable absence of Millennials (19-39) and not one Generation Z (<19). (I’ll excuse this generation; they’re busy right now getting an education.).  Oddly enough, the workshop had to do with exploring generational diversity, the need for which was well proven by the attendance.

I immediately thought, “Where are the professionals who will succeed this group?” The Matures and Baby Boomers will be retiring soon, and the nonprofit organizations must start recruiting Generation X and Millennials if they expect to turn over sustainable organizations.

We in the nonprofit sector need to be much more strategic about succession planning. Diversity will be required on all fronts; ethnicity, generational, technology, gender, religion, sexual orientation and accessibility. Communities are depending on the nonprofit sector to be truly inclusive and not leave anyone out.  They have come to expect us to lead the way for the underserved. Let us accept the challenge of unification and diversity for all.

Comments by Aisha Muslim, OMG! Affiliate Consultant

urgency

Mandatory Board Leadership Training

So there is a selected group of board members.  Why are they not effective? They all come from professional backgrounds.  They should be able to get things done…right? Well, apparently more is required than just a professional background.

Board dysfunctionality is a major reason for the failure of nonprofits.  In fact, while we may attribute the success or lack of success of a nonprofit to an executive director, it’s safe to say that the ED, staff members, funders and other stakeholders where all affected directly or indirectly by a board.

While working with many boards, I observed a severe lack of understanding of how the board members viewed both their legal and social responsibilities. Often times, they have no idea of what the legal or social repercussion of the decisions they make represent.  Boards can lack creativity and diversity, not realizing the importance of this component. Also, often times, the way the ED, staff and stakeholders see the organization, differs from the view of the Board.

This dysfunctionality is often due to lack of Board Leadership Training.  Education has always been and always will be the key to success.  After training many boards in the area of Basic Board Leadership, the difference in governance is like night and day upon completion of training.  A simple training has the ability to get board members on a collective track.  It can improve communication with everyone from stakeholders, to staff member and ED’s, right up to the board members.  Training improves communication and efficiency 100%.

The Board Leadership Training process is so important that perhaps one should not be allowed to serve on a board without Basic Board Leadership Certification.  This would most certainly have everyone enter the arena of nonprofit boards on the same page.  Board members would enter board relations with an expected level of ability to make decisions based on precedence and not just one’s opinion that has no precedence.  It would also help to eliminate the generic errors made throughout the nonprofit sector on a daily basis.  If the nonprofit sector expects to create sustainable organizations, it must first establish a board that is properly trained in Basic Board Leadership.

Comments by Aisha Muslim, OMG! Affiliate Consultant

partnerships

The Power of Partnerships

Organizational partnerships are a powerful tool for increasing the effectiveness and impact of nonprofit and public sector entities in New Jersey and beyond. Nonprofits often do not look at merger and collaboration until the financial numbers dictate the action. Perhaps numbers shouldn’t be the driving force that dictates the call to action.

As nonprofits, we generally aspire to meet the social, educational, and principled needs in a world that needs our help. However, sometimes organizations can lose sight of the mission and holding on to a nonprofit’s identity becomes more important than meeting the needs of the target community. The needs of the people should come first. It is not about the name of the organization, but how well the needs of the community can be served.

A partnership, from simple collaboration to fully integrated merger, can be a major positive strategic move as nonprofits think about reaching their maximum capacities. Small organizations benefit from the expertise and ideas of the partner organization. Many minds come together to create something greater. Like services are combined for better results. Small organizations become large organizations, with a longer reach for success.

Words like partnership, collaboration and merger should not be negative, anxiety-producing words. They are positive words that create lots and lots of positive action! So, partnerships should be considered proactively, rather than the action of last resort.

Comments by Aisha Muslim, OMG! Affiliate Consultant

Visit The Power of Partnerships CommonBond December 15, 2009 for more information.