Nonprofit, church, and cause leaders should be incredibly bullish about the present and the future. The result of the pandemic has impacted “business as usual” realities. The veracity of current operating models was already waning. They were working good enough to kick the can down the proverbial road just a little longer. But, those formulas, forged in the midst of assumptions that are no longer true, are simply going to continue to underperform.
You can hang on as long as you want. But the strength of your topline contributions and revenue is under threat—unless you take action to repair the mitigating realities lurking under the surface.
We’ve been studying nonprofit, church, and cause databases since 2007. Few have wanted to change even though there was ample evidence to do so. But that evidence can no longer be ignored.
Simply increasing top-line contributions will not be enough to resolve the ineffectiveness of past operating systems to support and sustain programs and ministries.
The protracted impact of the pandemic has offered nonprofit, church, and cause leaders a gift: the opportunity to let go of what wasn’t working and take on what will work.
Agility is a strategic imperative, not a suggestion.
There will be more variables than constants during this disruptive season. Nonetheless, the insights and breakthroughs realized will yield incredible transformation that will lower the friction of solving—or perhaps even eliminating—the systemic inequities and deficiencies around the world in a material way.
So, buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But the result is going to be worth the challenge of getting there.
7 Things Every Nonprofit, Church, and Cause Leader Needs to Consider Now
- Time for a lineup change. Your pre-pandemic leadership team is likely not your post-pandemic leadership team. Either your leadership changes or you change your leadership.
- Every decision needs to be informed, supported, and driven by data. Data is not a department; it's a leadership skill.
- Technology and AI are required to deliver mass personalization. The donor brings their consumer expectations to their nonprofit experience. And it's never been cheaper, easier, or faster to deliver a customized experience.
- Decentralized, interdependent, and interdisciplinary teams need to replace departments and functions. Speed to market, failure, and learning is essential for success … now!
- Appreciation, retention, and upgrade strategies are the catalyst for predictable growth. Unrestricted, contribution-driven capital will be your primary evidence of successfully enrolling your core supporters into the world of possibilities and potential. A lack of this spells not only financial struggle but the erosion of support moving forward that will likely never be recovered.
- Moving general donors to subscription-based, recurring gifts will be a normalizing reality that will provide stability for any future pivots. Mid-Level and Major Donors will provide the investment capital necessary to build the infrastructure for the future. That means the shareholder mentality needs to drive everything.
- A culture of learning is critical. If you're not pushing yourself enough to experience failure, then you’re living in a limited reality on the tail of your previous successes. That "wave" will be shorter than most nonprofit leaders have ever experienced. The future will be built on the attempts and failures that lead to significant and substantial learning today. (Hint: Comfort is your enemy.)
The Future Is Now
The rate of change is happening faster than most organizations can assimilate and integrate into their workflows. Leaders recognize previous models and methods for strategic planning were not designed for an iterative leadership reality that mitigates risk through data-informed experimentation and adaption and results in people, processes, revenue, and growth systems that are in a constant state of evolution. It’s simply not possible to utilize familiar methods of organizational planning and expect to get a consistently positive return on investment of human and capital resources today.
If current realities are not resolved and left unaddressed, a decline in donor development, new funding opportunities, and an increase in mission delivery costs are almost certain. Business as usual leadership and decision-making are not going to deliver a healthy and sustainable organization moving forward. Therefore, new thinking will need to be employed that will result in new actions and, in turn, deliver new results.
Leading between now and next will not be easy. It will be met with hardship, disappointment, and frustrations. As long as leaders stay present in the tension between mission opportunities and actual capacity, the pathway forward will be clear, and the strength to carry on will be present.
Are you ready?
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.