The Power of Action: Overcoming Nonprofit Challenges

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with 15 nonprofits at our Seattle nonprofit networking event, in partnership with Salesforce. Through a bit of nonprofit talk therapy and a lot of great ideas, some themes began to emerge when we asked about using innovation to meet their missions. Most nonprofits aspire to have good data governance to preserve/share institutional knowledge, improve technology adoption, be more efficient, and enable their staff better, but feel hamstrung by change aversion, accessibility concerns, uncertainty post-COVID, and of course, budget.

We know that in the dynamic world of nonprofits, the stakes are high, and the need for action is constant. While the mission to create positive change drives these organizations, the consequences of inaction can be severe. Here, we explore the potential pitfalls that nonprofits face when they fail to act decisively and proactively.

1. Missed Opportunities for Funding

Nonprofits rely heavily on donations and grants to sustain their operations and achieve their goals. Grant applications have deadlines, and donors expect timely engagement. Failing to act promptly can result in lost financial support, which can be detrimental to the organization’s ability to carry out its mission. A solid CRM can ensure deadlines are never missed, automate important follow-up, and help to find new funding opportunities. For executives, reporting makes funding more predictable and reliable.

2. Diminished Impact

The primary goal of any nonprofit is to make a positive impact. Inaction can significantly diminish this impact. Whether it’s delaying the implementation of a new program or system, failing to address emerging community needs, or not responding to changes in the external environment, the result is the same: the people and causes that the nonprofit aims to serve are left without the support they need.

3. Loss of Credibility & Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any nonprofit’s relationship with its stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, and the community at large. Inaction can erode this trust. When stakeholders see that a nonprofit is not taking necessary actions, they may question the organization’s commitment, effectiveness, and reliability. This loss of credibility can be challenging to rebuild and may lead to decreased support and engagement.

4. Increased Competition

The nonprofit sector is highly competitive, with many organizations competing for the same resources and attention. Inaction can put a nonprofit at a disadvantage compared to more proactive organizations. Competitors who are quicker to adapt, innovate, and respond to changes are more likely to attract funding, volunteers, and media attention, leaving less proactive nonprofits struggling to keep up.

5. Internal Discontent & Burnout

Inaction can also have internal consequences. Staff and volunteers who are passionate about the cause may become disillusioned and frustrated if they see that the organization is not making progress. This can lead to decreased morale, higher turnover rates, and burnout. A lack of action can create a stagnant work environment, making it difficult to retain and attract talented individuals who are essential for driving the nonprofit’s mission forward.

6. Failure to Adapt to Change

The world is constantly changing, and nonprofits must be agile and adaptable to stay relevant. Inaction can result in a failure to keep up with new technologies, changing regulations, and evolving community needs. This lack of adaptability can render a nonprofit obsolete, as it becomes unable to meet the current demands of its beneficiaries and supporters.

For nonprofits, we believe that the benefits of taking action, big or small, beats inertia every time. The consequences of failing to act can be far-reaching and detrimental to the organization’s mission, credibility, and sustainability. To avoid these pitfalls, nonprofits must prioritize proactive decision-making, continuous improvement, and timely responses to opportunities and challenges. By doing so, they can ensure that they remain effective, trusted, and impactful in their efforts to create positive change in the world. Plative is here to help. Let’s make your aspirations a reality.

Written by

James Catterall

Senior Client Partner, Salesforce

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