As I read the amazing volume of sheer ‘stuff’ online, 35 Ways to Raise More Money, 15 Things to do to Annoy your Donor, 5 Sure -Fire Ways to Engage Your Board, I am overwhelmed with advice. It sometimes looks like the cover of Cosmo or Glamour, with lists and lists of lists.
One I recently bothered to read was a short one( I find short so much more likely to be tolerable to read than long…) about 3 things to do really alienate a community in the face of a nonprofit merger. The author was smart, wrote well and made some good points. However, those points all did fall, in my eyes, under the category of ‘duh’.
The management of the groups had taken an imperious, ‘we know better than you do’ attitude toward their membership, constituency and stakeholders. The management had made the decisions that in their opinion were going to be best for the two orgs, but neglected to acquire buy-in, support or even opinions from anyone else.
The merger effort lasted less than two weeks, and managed to offend pretty much everyone involved. So what happened here? Presumably, smart, capable and caring leaderships got together to solve a problem that would prove better for all.
What happened is what happens far too frequently, while all hell bent for leather, managers lose touch with basic common sense. They forget to take a minute, or more, and think these things through. There is so much pressure for now, immediately, need results, change, improvement NOW, that thinking the whole thing through never takes place.
I don’t believe the vast majority of managers are thoughtless or insensitive, but feel so much pressure to deliver that once an idea that seems to have merit and legs comes along, there is a tendency to jump all over it and simply get going.
Do yourself, your colleagues, and your organization a favor, stop. Stop and think it through, sometimes it is helpful for me to consider the end of the project of event first, and work backwards rather than spend too much time at the front of the planning. I have been on events where no one thought about clean up; tired, exhausted volunteers and staff are picking up trash, hauling away leftovers or faced with yet another huge task of acknowledgements and other resolutions.
It’s not rocket science!
The solution to this is deceptively simple, slow down, think it through and don’t forget about the end, the follow up and the evaluation. Be clear on what you want, and if this new plan will really offer you the end point, solution, answer or acquisition you want. Have a plan B and don’t be afraid to be the devil’s advocate. Yes, it might slow you down some at the get go, but compared to having to cancel, go backwards, apologize or make amends, it is a very small insurance to have.
STOP, take a talk, think it through. The time and energy investment will pay off, in spades, I promise.
Need someone to bounce an idea off of, offer possible hitches to the getalong or have a Plan B, get in touch here or call us on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.
Thinking inside the box by id-iom on Flickr