As we head into the final months of 2018, it’s a good time for nonprofit leaders to think about the future. While it’s easy to be consumed with day-to-day operational tasks, it’s also critical for leadership to set aside time to address big picture challenges facing nonprofit organizations. We’ve identified 5 challenges that nonprofit leaders should be discussing with their board, their staff or at a planning retreat. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but offers a starting point for examining issues that, if not addressed, could become big problems or threaten your organization’s very existence.

  1. Attracting and retaining quality board members-It’s essential for nonprofit leaders to examine the size, makeup and commitment of their current board, and to recruit the right mix of individuals to help lead your organization. As we have discussed in a previous blog post, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for board recruitment. However, if your recruitment efforts are not thoughtful or strategic, problems will arise, and you may wind up with a disengaged, ineffective board. Board training is essential so that all board members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities.
  2. Understanding the impact of Government regulations and tax reform-Recent changes to the tax code along with budget cuts at the state and local levels can have serious impacts, both to available resources as well as giving. While the nonprofit sector may not see the full impact of the new law for some time, the new standard deduction is expected to impact charitable giving as fewer taxpayers itemize deductions. In June, The American Enterprise Institute projected that the law would reduce charitable giving by $17.2 billion this year. Adjusting budgets and funding development plans accordingly will be critical for nonprofits in 2019 and beyond.
  3. Supporting staff and preventing burnout-With limited budgets, nonprofit organizations frequently struggle to attract highly-skilled workers. However, it’s important to remember that the talent and enthusiasm of staff members can have a transformative effect on your organization-both positive and negative. To keep employees engaged, set goals that relate to your organization’s mission, celebrate accomplishments, and focus on improving communication whenever possible.
  4. Measuring performance and implementing strategic planning-Evaluating a nonprofit’s performance can be challenging, but it’s a critical component to maintaining funding. Engaging in strategic planning requires that you know your mission and that you examine how your organization fills a need in the community you’re serving. It also requires you to identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the steps you can take to be more effective.
  5. Retaining and engaging donors – Having a set group of long-term supporters who contribute regularly to your nonprofit is critical for financial stability. Statistics show that 60% of donors only donate once, and if donors stop giving there’s only a very small chance that they will ever give again. Engaged donors are more likely to become recurring donors, and this can be accomplished through a few easy steps. Sending a personalized and meaningful thank you after each donation and informing those donors of the impact of their gift are tried and true techniques. Don’t forget that donor retention should be the responsibility of the entire organization, including board members and not just staff.

Align has extensive experience in helping nonprofits strategically navigate a wide variety of challenges. Contact us to find out how we can help your organization move forward successfully.