Facing Challenging Times in Your Nonprofit

By Dr. Randal Dick, Nonprofit Principal

Facing difficult times in your nonprofit

When challenging times face nonprofit leaders, strategic thinking, hard decisions and clear communication become imperative components of their activities.

In mission-driven agencies, passionate leaders may sometimes lack the skills to know what actions are best. In this case, a specific component of leadership becomes the most vital: ruthless and humble self-awareness.

In difficult times, a leader must make hard decisions to lead the organization. Passionate, mission-based leaders may still be resistant to difficult decisions which could face criticism, anger or affect the lives and attitudes of people. The reality is that the board and CEO have the fiduciary responsibility to protect and nurture the organization above these other things. Their organization’s stakeholders, clients and mission impact may be at stake.

Strategic thinking must take into consideration a wide variety of factors including short- and long-term issues; economic, sociological and industry trends; mission, vision and philosophy of ministry; board dynamics; donor trends; critical relationships and historical brand.

The Basics of Good Communication

Clear communication is a good practice at all times and may be one of the most difficult things to accomplish in smaller nonprofits. Larger organizations which function at higher systemic levels will have processes, channels and policies that should facilitate better communications. Sometimes smaller organizations fall into the traps and dysfunctions seen in families.

The board and CEO have the fiduciary responsibility to protect and nurture the organization.

In difficult times, openly and clearly communicating what is happening and why, and how you plan on getting through it will generally create the best possible means for hard decisions to be managed and processed by all involved.

In our media-driven world everyone will find out something, therefore, ruthless and humble self-awareness has become almost as important as competence. Leaders who knows their strengths, weaknesses and failings, and walk humbly in them, will generally overcome the challenges before them. They will know when and where they need help, they will keep the board and others involved and informed, and they will strive to manage hard decisions in ways that honor relationships and support individuals as much as possible.


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About the Author

Dr. Randal Dick

Randal is a results-driven, development and execution-oriented leader with more than 25 years of experience leading high performance teams. He’s a proven business professional, capable of leading change in both the boardroom and on the frontline, with a strong track record leading strategy development, entrepreneurship, performance and evaluation globally across a variety of social enterprises and functions.

Learn more about Randal: 

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Published: 02/19/2019

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