Nonprofits are in a unique position. Pulled between the needs of today and tomorrow, they are required to have a vision for the future while simultaneously executing in the present. In light of societal changes and recent shifting funder focuses, organizations need strategies to help them pivot for funding success now more than ever. Organizations should review their mission statement to make sure it is still effective and applicable. Do not underestimate the change the past two years have had on society. Some programs may need to be tweaked or completely revamped.
What if there is little/no intersection between the funding landscape and our mission?
Because of shifts in funding focus and societal needs, nonprofits are expanding their goals to raise funds and implement programs that are not always aligned with their primary mission. In the past, this monster has been called “Mission Creep. ”
Mission creep has been a problem in the past when it has led to a lack of focus, which then led to a loss of funding and community support. Mission creep is not to be feared at this time in history and may be necessary to sustain the organization and provide for needs in the community.
Identifying Where Changes Are Needed
Nonprofits are investigating new strategies to help meet the changing needs of people in their communities. So many people and organizations have been affected by changes in the socio-economic situation over the past two years. A strategic planning process can help an organization to evaluate its current capabilities, identify new opportunities, and make decisions on how to move forward.
Responding to changing needs is an all-hands-on-deck situation. Potential shifts in mission should have as much input as possible. Invite stakeholders to a strategic planning session. Stakeholders can include board members, community members, organization staff, and partnership organizations. A planning tool that a lot of nonprofit organizations use is the Logic Model. We like to use a logic model format when assessing changing needs because it can provide a pathway to look at what the organization is doing, how it could work, and specific outcomes. Below is a sample Logic model that provides room to add information surrounding inputs, activities, and outcomes.
The strategic planning session(s) could lead the organization to create changes in programming to meet new needs in the community. This could also provide an opportunity to approach funders with a Capacity Building funding request in order to make the identified changes in the organization for the benefit of the community. This type of funding has been shown to have positive outcomes on the organization’s sustainability and missions. Capacity-building activities seek to increase the ability of stakeholders and can include:
1. Shoring up sustainability
2. Improving governance
3. Supporting collaboration
4. Strengthening infrastructure
These are broad categories. Capacity building can mean different things for funders and organizations. Shoring up sustainability might mean purchasing new financial or donor software at one organization, or providing specific training opportunities for current staff at a different organization. Capacity-building funding can help organizations ebb and flow with the tides of societal change.
When thinking about mission and programming change, communication and inclusivity are key to the success of the organization and meeting the ongoing needs of people served by the organization.
More articles on becoming Grant-Optimized:
Connections: How and Why You Need to Make Them
The 10 Most Common Reasons Why Grants are Denied, and What You Can Do about it
The Changing Funding Landscape