Dealing with a “Perfect Storm”

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Robin Noah

I recently read an article where a comment was made that many people call the current economic environment for nonprofits a “perfect storm “. 

There are several descriptions for a perfect storm. The one I like is simple: it states that a perfect storm is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically creating conditions that become challenging and stressful. For nonprofits the storm manifests itself in the decrease of donorship and grants available to nonprofits. No question that the last 2 years could be described as a perfect storm. 

It seems like everybody is on a downward spiral financially. Government funding , corporate and foundations are struggling to develop Giving budgets that are reasonable for them based on the limitations of their funds and in many cases the amount they are giving lags behind the market recovery. So “catching up” does not seem to be in the immediate future. Add to that the rise of the need for services and it looks like a perfect storm. 

The question facing the nonprofits is what to do with what we have? How about being more assertive in promoting your organization? Show the funders that you are creating significant change in your mission ; not your plans and strategies – actual outcomes is what they are interested in, how you are impacting your clients. My recommendation is to consider taking action on at least 3 things:  

  1. Develop a compelling case: If you now have a case for giving, revisit the document and update to meet the current needs for your services 
  2. Write an article about your organization describing your relevancy to the issues that your clients are facing today and post it in a newsletter and any of the social networks you subscribe to. Stress how you can do so much more to meet the increased demand for services with additional funding. How you are filling a gap that others are not meeting.  
  3. Make your organization visible. Develop an outreach program to present to the segment of businesses and foundations that fund your organization.   

Keep in mind that the purpose or goal is to demonstrate that board and staff leadership is focusing on accomplishing its mission and takes very seriously its stewardship responsibilities; that you are deserving of greater financial investment so that you can provide services efficiently and effectively and meet the increased needs for your services. 

I may be preaching to the choir so if you are already doing most of the things recommended – pat your selves in the back. If you are not quite there it may be time to look for the next upward step to make your mark in the nonprofit arena, becoming a serious contender for significant funding.

 Author: Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org