Non Profit Leaders Pondering Your Priorities

Non Profit Leaders Pondering Your Priorities

It was only a handful of months ago that my weekly column directed Nonprofit Leaders to “throw it all at the wall”. In the nonprofit sector, 2021 and 2022 could be called The Great Experiment. Post pandemic, it was the perfect time to take risks. An ideal time to open your mind to new ideas and strategies, and give ’em a whirl. The bolder, the better. These last two years, you truly had nothing to lose.

Nonprofit leadership in 2023 is going to require shifting gears. Hoping for the next grant, waiting around for money to show up, believing in miracles to bring money – those days are gone. The most successful organizations in 2023 will embody decisiveness, responsiveness, and agility. Organizations that are still deferring decisions and engaging in magical thinking will slip away into oblivion. Beyond that, 2023 will require your nonprofit to do more with less…

Inflation is rising with no end in sight. It’s squeezing people’s wallets in ways they’ve never known before. The predictable future is we will all pay two to four times more for basic needs while incomes remain virtually the same.

A recession has begun. People are now forced to make tough decisions about where their money is going, and why. The term “extras” is about to be redefined. At one time, it referred to personal luxuries. Moving forward, it will inevitably include charitable giving.

There is an ongoing shortage of staff to do the work. If they don’t like the job or the pay, they can easily blow it off and get a job today at the coffee shop down the street. A job that boasts more flexible hours and a sign-on cash bonus.

There is an ever-increasing shortage of supplies to do the work. Things we used to receive in a couple days are now taking weeks. We’re headed into a time when we won’t know what will be available and when. Expect that. Accept that. It’s the predictable future.

So there it is. The realities you’re walking into 2023 with. They’re here and they’re not going anywhere. In fact, they are intensifying. My friends, you can’t “wait it out” anymore. Plunging your head in the sand is no longer an option (not that it ever was). The hope of things “returning to normal” is gone. I’m sure you can see this. Have you confronted it yet?

Here’s your 2023 roadmap…

Ditch your 3-5 year plan. Try ONE year. Maybe. With a shortage of people and a shortage of supplies, you must make decisions now and quickly. Instead of planning, get good at responding. The ability and willingness to think on your feet will be a superpower in the coming year.

Get lean and fit. It’s now crystal clear: Do less. Pick ONE priority and give it all you’ve got. If you triple your priorities, it will take three times as long with the same resources. Speed is your superpower in 2023. Take too long, wait too long, debate and analyze – and you’ll end up with a program or fundraising project born into a world that no longer needs (or wants) it.

Dive in and accelerate with all you’ve got. Once you’ve picked your #1 priority, it’s all hands-on deck. Direct and drive your staff to keep the focus. Tear into it. Allow that forward momentum to roll you into the next priority – which WILL present itself. It always does.

Be expectant. By mid-year 2023, expect Priority #2 to show up in a completely different environment than the start of the year. Predictable is gone. We don’t know what the conditions will be, and we must be ready for whatever they are. Higher prices? Less people? Fewer supplies? Something else? We don’t know. BE READY.

In a sector that takes on everything, that lurches from one event to the next – it’s time for a hard stop. 2023 is not the year for Big Audacious Goals. It is the year for Ruthless Priorities.

Want help? I offer individualized coaching and consulting specifically tailored to meet you where you are, with the people and resources you have available to you, and with your goals in mind.

Reply to this message directly to set up a conversation. Even if we don’t end up doing work together, I promise our conversation will highlight a direction and solutions you haven’t yet considered.

Let’s start there.