Weathering Tough Economic Times: 4 Tips for Nonprofit & Small Business Leaders by Mark Goldsmith
As concerns rise that the nation could be headed for a recession, leaders of nonprofit organizations (and small businesses) may find out just how well they can weather the challenges brought about by an economic storm.
When the economy goes sour, the demand will become even greater for the services nonprofits provide. The people who are hit the hardest by tough times are always those with the greatest need, whether that need is education, income, housing or another basic necessity. Wading through tough economic times can be grueling for any organization with a mission to help others. Here are four tips for business leaders preparing for adverse times:
1. Focus on Your Strengths
Put an emphasis on what you do that’s effective. When speaking with potential donors, discuss a nonprofit version of return on investment, asking potential funders what they want their donations to achieve. Then explain how your organization can accomplish that. The results are something any nonprofit should put in front of potential donors, especially in a recession. Make it clear that your services are vital.
2. Avoid Launching Anything New
While it can be exciting and worthwhile to venture into new programs, and there is almost no end to services clients might need, a declining economy is not the time for a nonprofit to experiment with its offerings. Stick with what you do best and hold tightly to the mission statement that has served you well.
3. Intensify Volunteer Recruitment Efforts
While new programs are best avoided, new methods could be employed to attract volunteers, who are needed more than ever when demands on your services increase. Reach out to people you have not reached before. Volunteering is something that could almost be enhanced in tough times because you have another story to tell. You have your regular story of why you are out there, but you also can focus on the fact that things are made exceedingly worse by the recession. Such an appeal could resonate with someone who has not volunteered before, but now sees that their help is needed more than ever.
4. Consider Partnering With Another Organization (But With Caveats)
Partnering with another nonprofit so you can share resources could be beneficial, but there are pitfalls. One potential problem is that the mission statements might not work together. An organization’s reputation is also critical, so be careful about becoming involved with an agency that could damage your group’s good name. Work ethic, culture and staff qualifications are also key. As an example, your organization may only hire licensed social workers with master’s degrees. Another organization’s standards might not mesh with that. Of course, there is something called survival; linking up with another agency might be a necessity just to survive for the time being, and if that’s the case, then make it happen.
Regardless of the state of the economy, there are always those in need of assistance, and providing that assistance is more rewarding than many people realize. There’s no way to describe the joy of seeing your best efforts working. In challenging times, you are still able to make a difference.
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