By Sharon Danosky
It’s a question I have been pondering lately. I like this question because it looks forward. At the same time it is a rather loaded question, because the flurry of activity we have seen at Danosky & Associates over the summer months is quite extraordinary. From a consulting perspective – here is what we are seeing on the horizon:
There are a lot of requests and interest in developing strategic plans. I believe our sector is taking a close look at what is needed in the near and longer-term and how to best prepare. I also am finding that organizations are deeply introspective during the process. They are no longer asking how their organization can ‘position’ itself; the conversation has shifted. Instead, it is much more about how can we address the inequities, the gaps in service; how can we scale up or even pull back and go deeper into resolving inequities and lack of service. And even how can we collaborate?
These are very much aligned with the planning process, but instead of developing a plan, organizations are looking for assessments to find the direction they want their organizations to go. This often includes strong community-based work, from data analysis to community surveys and bringing insights from people with lived experiences to the table. And some of those traditional “tables” are being torn down so a more open and fluid discussion can be had.
Boards and Governance Re-Imagined
Since Anne Wallested’s article in SSRI on purpose-driven boards, I have been thinking a lot about how boards operate and how they are making themselves more aware of the issues facing the nonprofit sector. I believe if there is going to be systemic change, it will come from our sector. But not all nonprofits or their boards are aligned. Systems work takes time and commitment. It requires a strong connection to the communities that a nonprofit serves and understanding the power dynamics and inequities that exist between the community and many boards. This is difficult work – but many boards are beginning this work. This work is on a spectrum that is miles long and varies significantly in depth. The real opportunity is that the work is beginning. The challenge is to ensure it continues.
Always where the rubber meets the road. There is a lot of call for building more sustainable fundraising plans, and a real commitment to building relationships with donors and creating partnerships that can foster meaningful change. Perhaps nowhere is this more present than in the number of campaigns being considered. And they are not just for buildings, but for investment in systems change, building infrastructure, building capacity, building collaborations and building new futures.
I have to make a confession here – I no idea what’s next – who does? But whatever it is I see a new fearlessness on the part of many to go boldly forward and own the future. We have learned how resilient we are and there are many people who have the desire to create more equitable future, where every person can participate, contribute meaningfully and belong.