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Sep 11, 2019
Posted Under: Governance

We recently conducted a survey on how Alaska nonprofits are responding to the state fiscal crisis – we heard from many of you that you need support. Here are nine ideas to help guide you. You can use these as a conversation starter with your board and leadership team. You can also call on us. We are ready to guide you.

As you go through these, help your board and staff be as strategic as possible to avoid surprises. And remember – don’t just create the plans, live them!

  1. Create or update your strategic plan: Not a new tool for sure, but an essential one. If you don’t know who you are and where you are going, every road will take you there, and every crisis will distract you.
  2. Create a leadership succession plan: Attention to leader succession makes all leadership transitions easier on the board and staff while ensuring organizational continuity and mission success. If you want help with this, we offer customized services that match your budget, size, and operational complexity. Our goal for you is to thrive, not just survive during change.

Gather a small team of advisors to look closely at your financial and core practices as you use each of these tools honestly as a team. If you suspect your organization is approaching crisis or is in it, you can use the results to gain clarity and spring into action.

  1. Gauge your financial stability: Spot potential financial problems before they send your organization into crisis – or engage the board and staff in a clear conversation on your financial stability with our Indicators of Financial Crisis
  2. Engage in scenario planning: While much of this work often is touted as strictly a financial calculation, we strongly encourage you to use the Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model to gain a full picture. We are available for consultations to help you think this through. For a resource that focuses solely on a financial framework, take a look at this Revenue Analysis Worksheet created by The Wallace Foundation.
  3. Communicate in a crisis: Be ready to communicate changes to your stakeholders (and the media) using our Crisis Communication Checklist.
  4. Prepare for staffing changes: Based on your scenario plan (which includes your budget), you might be considering furloughs or permanently downsizing your staff. This is careful work that should be done with your core values as your guide. Having the appropriate policies in place can keep you from making costly mistakes and help in an already unsettling time. Check out our sample furlough policy or contact us to create or update other staffing policies or staffing restructure plans that are right for you.

This work is bigger than each of us, and bigger than our organizations. Staying connected and supported is essential and can also create new opportunities.

  1. Meet with other nonprofit leaders: Many of you have indicated that you want to connect with each other. Mark your calendars for existing opportunities like our CEO Connect series and our Advocacy in Action Watch our website for additional ways to connect, or ask us to help by convening a group on a specific topic. As a neutral convener we are happy to hold the space for conversation, connection, and comradery. Let’s practice abundance thinking and action together.
  2. Consider new strategic alliances: Is the timing right to think about delivering mission in a new format? Is the current framework for financial stability viable anymore? Is the structure holding you back from greater solutions? We are ready when you and your partners are. Let’s talk about strategic alliances and the options that are most viable to do the most good.

Never before have we seen so many nonprofit leaders create time and space to stand for their mission and for the sector like you have this summer. Amazing! Your voice matters! And I do hope that your actions are our New Normal. Here’s one last action I hope you will incorporate into your mission work every day.

  1. Step up your organization’s advocacy game: Are you ready to take what you learned this summer and make it part of your organization’s DNA? Join us for Creating Your Successful Advocacy Program: A Step-by-Step Approach on October 29. We are ready to help you build a plan that can guide your work. Let’s get started.

These are just nine options to take a strategic step and move forward. If your organization needs help or is in crisis, we urge you to seek help. You may choose to tap the expertise on your board, or find another outside resource. You can call us at 907-743-1200. We have experienced staff that can discuss ideas with you in a confidential and judgment-free environment.