There’s a lot of uncertainty in the nonprofit world these days. There are more organizations vying for donor loyalty across an increasing number of channels. The expectations of today’s donors has changed and there’s an intense scrutiny on how every dollar is spent. Those are the “rules of the game” and they’ve left a lot of organizations uncertain about the future.
Yet that uncertainty is also why it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the nonprofit space. All of the challenges listed above are creating an equal number of opportunities—to connect with donors in new ways; to embrace innovations that can help us work smarter; to achieve unprecedented results.
Ultimately, that’s what challenges and limitations do—they lead to new ways of thinking, new ideas, and new solutions. They lead to opportunities.
Finding Smarter Ways to Accomplish Shared Goals
Here’s an example for you: Let’s say three people are tasked with digging a hole a hundred miles deep. Each person is only given a single shovel.
- The first person gets right to work and just keeps digging and digging and digging. He makes a lot of progress, but that progress slows over time as his energy depletes.
- The second person starts digging the same way, but soon develops another method. She repositions the shovel to get a better angle, alternates hands, and takes regular breaks. Eventually the second person’s progress exceeds the first—despite the fact that the first person is working harder.
- The third person looks at the problem, breaks the shovel into pieces, and creates a machine to automate the digging progress. This takes time and the third person falls way behind the others. But once the machine is activated, he quickly moves past the other two while expending far less energy.
This may seem overly simplistic, but it also perfectly illustrates the evolution of problem solving. There’s always a better way out there. It’s just a matter of identifying it. The same thing holds true for the nonprofit world.
Are You Ready to Step Up to the Plate and Take a New Approach?
We all have limited resources (time and talent) and face other challenges that keep us from being as innovative as we might want to be. Rather than trying to fight against these limitations, you need to figure out a way to work within the rules of the game.
I once heard someone say: “Anyone can do more with more. Good leaders can do more with the same. But it takes exceptional leaders to do more with less.”
In the new reality nonprofits are facing, exceptional fundraising leaders need to figure out how to “do more with less.” That may not be quite as daunting as it sounds. It simply means embracing new ideas and solutions that can help your organization work smarter, not harder, and continually asking the question:
How can you take the challenges and limitations facing your organization and turn them into opportunities?