Expand. Create. Abandon. Part One.

When we work with nonprofit leaders, we often find there are ample ideas but the resources to invest in those ideas are often insufficient.

The barrage of ideas often happens during strategic visioning or strategic planning sessions. The well-meaning, “I think we should do X.”

Ideas are great. Creativity and innovation should be welcomed and rewarded. However, what is the best way for leaders to sift through all the inputs to discern what is worthy of investment?

To aid in decision making, our team created a structure that we and our clients find useful. We call it Expand. Create. Abandon.

This week, we’ll dive into the first two.

  • Expand. What is having the biggest impact?

What is going so well that if you had more human and financial resources you could expand it?

Some organizations can have the “more” mentality — more programs, more clients, more locations, more money, more… It can be endless.

Rather than constantly creating “more” in a scattershot approach, what if you made a strategic decision to invest in just one program or service that has exceptional outcomes? What if you went deeper? What if you pulled resources from a less-effective program or service to allow you to expand what works well?

The ultimate impact can be profound on the people and places your mission serves, but also on your employees and volunteers. We believe funders will invest in a case for support that says, “Here’s the data. The outcomes achieved are exceptional and with your support, we can expand that impact.”

  • Create. What unmet need exists?

The need is evident and there is a gap in what your organization currently offers. If you had more human and financial resources, what would you create?

The landscape changes. External factors can shift on a dime whether we are operating in a pandemic or not. Needs that were once unknown or unforeseen can become acute.

How prepared is your organization to meet the needs of tomorrow? Are you scanning the landscape to know what may be emerging? What are you hearing from your constituents and how responsive is your team?

The strategic decision to invest in something new should be informed by data and in service to your organization’s mission. Author and scholar Peter Drucker refers to mission alignment as the “exacting match of opportunity, competence, and commitment.” When you choose to invest in this convergence, donors will respond, and the community will benefit.

Use these questions at your next senior staff meeting and board meeting. Dive into the discussion to ensure your organization is being strategic in its decision making and effective in its use of human and financial resources.

Next week, we talk about what it means to abandon.

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