Life in the nonprofit sector often demands that we move deftly between a management role and a leadership role—and appreciating the critical difference—in the course of a day. We believe our sector’s leaders struggle too often with tactical, not strategic, approaches. Innovation and bold leadership are in short supply. Isn’t it time to stop driving with your eyes on the rearview mirror?
Making time for your board and staff to embark on a strategic plan should not be a postponed luxury. A well-conceived strategic plan takes into account your vision, mission and broad-reaching goals, includes the perspectives of different stakeholders, and translates naturally into an annual program of work with performance benchmarks. A multi-year plan will inform board recruitment, program development, and strategic fundraising. Set sail without one and you’ll risk ending up adrift.
The strength of your board is inexplicably linked to your organization’s future success. Is your board the right size? Do you have the talent you need? Is each member actively engaged in furthering your mission? Meanwhile, the effectiveness of any nonprofit will rise or fall dramatically in direct relationship to the ability of its board of directors and staff leadership to function as a well-synchronized team.
No one would suggest that cooperation and collaboration in our sector is a bad idea, yet only the brave few are willing to actually explore what blending strengths with a complementary organization might look like. Ego, turf, branding and logistics are just a few of the challenges.
Sometimes the best value that a savvy nonprofit consultant can bring is a fresh and unbiased point of view. Whether your nonprofit seems stuck in its infancy or is a long-established institution in a flat growth phase—or at any number of chapters in between—it can be very useful to have an outsider’s take on everything from mission evolution to board governance to staffing patterns to financial systems.
Life in the nonprofit sector makes demands on a staff and board in ways that seem almost contradictory: always keep a strategic focus, but mind the nuts and bolts. Make sure you’re mission-driven and always remain true to your organizational values, but deliver programs and maintain financial systems with a bottom-line eye for efficiency. Sometimes you just need some focused help, or a funder requires that you strengthen systems in a specific area.
For all his decades in the nonprofit sector, working as a community organizer, executive director, and organizational and fundraising consultant, Rich Male is at his core a teacher. He is equally comfortable talking about sector trends or leadership challenges from a ballroom podium as he is conducting a small-group workshop on a specific topic. From print publications to interactive workshops to webinars, RMA can be a tremendous resource for board retreats, community/stakeholder meetings, membership events, volunteer recognition receptions, and staff team-building.
Building a powerful and sustainable nonprofit requires us to mobilize the support, interest and ideas of a diverse community. We understand that the drive to accomplish important objectives often leaves little time to cultivate relationships and find ways to involve our constituencies, but this is a critical aspect of nonprofit success that cannot be left to chance.
Hiring the right Executive goes beyond identifying the candidate with the most impressive resume. During our years of conducting Executive Searches, RMA has seen time and again that the best candidates for these positions ultimately satisfy three important criteria: 1) Personality; 2) Cultural Fit; and 3) Skill Set. Candidates who poses the right combination of all three qualities are able to effectively lead and motivate the organization through the immediate future as well as in achieving the organization’s long-term, strategic vision.