Candid Conversations

candid conversations on collaboration 1

Guest Blogger – Jo DeBolt 

Your nonprofit has a healthy balance sheet and has ended every year in the black.  You continue to have success recruiting highly skilled staff and board members who add value to the organization.  You deliver proven outcomes with an evidenced-based approach.  Donor retention rates are high. Philanthropic and government funders often cite your programs as among the best in your city.

What’s not to like in this picture?

For many nonprofits the truth is that while you’re doing well, your constituents aren’t.  Pick the indicator.  Whether it’s hunger, domestic violence, education outcomes, individual health, infant mortality, or neighborhood violence, in many communities these indicators are headed in the wrong direction.  Needs are growing and you have plateaued in revenue, in numbers served, and in outcomes.  It’s clear that you aren’t fully achieving your mission.  Needs in your community are outpacing your ability to meet those needs. It’s time for some candid conversations. But where to begin?

Consider the generative conversations you can have with your staff and board members.

  • How are needs changing and how are we adapting?
  • What are the trends in our operating environment that are impacting our ability to do more?
  • What is holding us back from being able to more fully address community needs?
  • How are others in our community responding to these same issues?

​It’s out of these conversations that the next question often becomes – who else can we work with in our community and how can we work with them to leapfrog to a new level of service and program delivery? How can we more comprehensively address complex community issues?

It may be forming a coalition to change policies that disadvantage your constituents.  It may be an arrangement to share back office services to create greater efficiency in operations.  It may be designing and implementing an innovative new program with a like-minded partner.  It may be merging with an organization that allows you to provide services and programs that are more comprehensive, have more depth, and/or create a more holistic service continuum. ​

Smart nonprofit leaders are increasingly turning to collaboration, alliances, and strategic restructurings to fuel organizational growth, remove barriers, and create greater efficiency.

Are you ready to take on this leadership challenge with some candid conversations?  Join us when Jo comes to Toledo on March 26, 2019.

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Jo DeBolt is a Partner with La Piana Consulting. She works with nonprofit and foundation clients to help them solve their most significant and complex strategic challenges.