The Nonprofit Pivot: Shifting in Ever-Changing Times 

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The last few years have been understandably challenging in the nonprofit sector, leading organizations to make one pivot after another. While inconsistency may be the leading theme of the last few years, being nimble, flexible, and open to change will drive your nonprofit forward and position it for success in this evolving environment. 

A pivot can look like and include many things. Your messaging, identity, fundraising strategy, online presence, social media, content offerings, and external outreach are all things that may shift based on business needs. In the last few years alone, you’ve likely developed resources to support your community at the beginning of the pandemic; built processes to ensure funding goes to the most at need beneficiaries; built a technological infrastructure to serve your clients digitally; and even weathered the Great Resignation, coming out stronger than before. Being open to change positions your nonprofit to respond quickly to any external factor and helps position your organization to reach a great number of people and accomplish your mission.  

As your team has tried adapting and is continuing to adapt in the face of the new normal, we’ve compiled a list of pivot strategies to ensure your organization is setup for success despite market shifts: 

  • Consider a future pivot proactively. Being forced to pivot during a real-time crisis makes change difficult or virtually impossible. Planning for contingencies and what-if” scenarios helps you anticipate challenges and allows you to strategize a new direction before you embark on it. Change is hard, but preparation for potential changes makes it easier. 
  • Periodically evaluate how you’re reaching your mission. This includes operations/workflows, programmatic offerings, and service-level agreements. This evaluation is key to understanding whether your organization is delivering on its goals and if those goals ultimately lead to desired results.   
  • Listening is necessary. Solicit feedback from your key stakeholders and constituents. And use the feedback to inform your strategic direction and make changes that factor multiple perspectives. Some ways to collect informative feedback and data include performance metrics, operational evaluations, direct observations, and surveys. 
  • Pause and reflect. Every campaign, event, and new initiative should have a comprehensive debrief process, where your nonprofit will gather to talk about what worked and what didn’t. Reflecting on completed events allows your organization to build on what’s successful and change what’s ineffective, so your future initiatives go off without a hitch. 
  • Take an approach that is inclusive and think outside-the-box. A pivot does not have to follow a traditional, linear format. A pivot also shouldn’t be siloed and should neither be entirely top-down nor bottom-up—assemble your team and fully explain the reasoning behind the pivot to get buy-in before the changes take place. Using a creative, collaborative approach creates a healthy mix of ideas and information. Critical thinking and open-mindedness will serve your purposes. 
  • Remember, technology is the door to success for your modern organization. For example, your nonprofit accounting solution should create multiple planned budgets to account for any change in income with the capability of comparing actuals to budgeted amounts, or be robust enough to generate compliant FASB- or GASB-compliant reports quickly to pass an audit. Collaborate with your IT team and leadership to understand how to the right technology infrastructure and tools will improve interdepartmental productivity and efficiency. 

In these ever-changing times, jumping headfirst into a pivot without adequate planning or going it alone shouldn’t be your strategy. Gather your team, plot a journey, and follow that plan into the pivot. Your stakeholders want you to succeed. Use a pivot as an opportunity to ensure your nonprofit is positioned for continued, sustained success. 

Visit the MIP Resources Library for content specifically designed to help nonprofits achieve their goals. Interested in a personalized demo of how MIP can improve operations at your nonprofit? Contact us to start a conversation with one of our fund accounting experts.   

 

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Kassandre Kallen

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