Ed bogle Strategy

Moving from Scarcity Thinking to Focused Impact

M ost nonprofits have very broad and lofty mission statements. In an attempt to satisfy the greater needs of their “target” constituencies, they often spread their resources, dollars, and people over too many fronts in a noble attempt to achieve their broader mission.This leaves them in a mode of scarcity, constantly trying to increase funding during tough times, begging more from staff and volunteers, and leaving funders wondering what the true impact of the organization is. When I work with nonprofits, the major thing we examine is the target constituencies and their highest needs that match with the organization’s current capabilities and competencies. In other words, what can the organization do really well that will have a large and measureable or assessable impact on target constituencies? Success breeds success. When people clearly see impact, the willingness to donate, volunteer, and engage is greatly magnified. It is from this success that expansion and growth of the impact can be built. It becomes the organization’s “wedge” to build for the future. While it is generally short-term in nature, the long-term growth and development plan can be identified and a phased growth plan developed to link the current action to the next phases of service; a 5-7 year horizon. In reframing this model, I use four primary steps. In order to illustrate how this functions, it is helpful to see how this worked for a seniors’ organization. This nonprofit organization had an aim to solve many of the problems for the seniors in the metropolitan area, and they were attempting to do so with a

with organizations focusing on serving the same market. For example, in adult day care, it was discovered that many of the area churches were attempting to provide some level of adult day care for caregiver respite, but few had any training in caring for the variety of issues seniors have. Alliances were forged and the senior organization providing training and later created freestanding centers for the more severe cases of senior problems. There was a feeder system for participants and increased donations and fees. Step three involved engaging the board and people within the organization. The organization must define “What results are we going to be accountable for? What competencies do we have? And can we engage?” We had to define and reshape their competencies and build an engaged board that were working in committees, building ideas assessing the future, and in some cases, providing funding or access to it. The board members and staff were attracted to the target results we were trying to achieve and the challenge of making the defined impact deliver to the greater mission. Board members and donors are attracted to being a part of great results, not just showing up monthly to nod their heads about the budget. They want results, just as they demand of their companies and themselves. Over time, we attracted great staff and powerful board members. The fourth step of this strategy was to create stickability or sustainability. This comes back to the growth plan. How do we renew or develop recurring sources of revenue? That

very limited staff, limited budget, and a small board. They did a lot of things in a small way and had limited, but somewhat valued impact but nothing to write home about. First we engaged in segmenting the market. We went in and segmented the market focusing on what were the most pressing needs within the senior community. They focused on making sure that they did four of those things really well. That called for some reorganization and repurposing of the staff, but the focus resulted in targeting adult day care, assistance with housing needs, caregiver services, and information and referral resources for seniors. A short-range plan (18-24 month) was built for each area, and a longer term vision (5 year) for each of these areas was developed. As the plan unfolded and success was achieved. The early results were stunning, and the organization was able to attract new donor sources, expand staff, forge alliances with other providers, and grow a highly influential board. Step two was understanding the competition and building collaborations. We discovered that there were several organizations working on similar problems. Organizations often compete for the same donor dollars. Donors oftengetconfusedaboutcompetingnonprofits that sound like they are doing similar work. This organization sought and built alliances

22 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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