Nonprofit financial management folks tend to be leaders. These are the ones who ensure that the bills get paid, the lights stay on, and the mission gets funded, all the while keeping the beans counted and clean so that the public places its jaded trust into the organization’s mission and vision. All well and good.
But what if it’s not just the public who’s jaded? What if your organization faces changes, albeit positive changes and everyone within is feeling a tad bit jaded?
Numb to Change
The CEO called everyone in the organization down to the conference room. He brandished a book. “We’re going to follow this model, and we’re going to transform the organization!” he shouted.
He waited for the applause, the enthusiasm. Instead, he received silence. A few yawns. A few people are glancing at their watches.
What happened? It’s change fatigue or an organization that’s been through the “next greatest leadership thing” cycle too many times.
Many organizations find themselves fatigued from too many changes happening too quickly. High turnover rates, problems that create a turbulent environment, a new marketing plan, a consultant brought in to fix things are all positive steps in the right direction, but if they happen too frequently, skepticism leads to shrugs. Employees may not believe that this time, things will change for the better.
They become numb to change, fatigued by newness, and ready to ignore it all until the dust settles down.
Re-Ignite the Excitement
As part of your role in nonprofit financial management and as a leader in your organization, part of your job is to support change. It can be difficult, especially if an organization has just passed through troubled waters.
But re-igniting the fire of excitement starts at the top. It begins with you. It starts with your CEO and spreads to you in your role in nonprofit financial management and to others in communications, donor relations, and more.
Here’s how you can help others get behind changes, embrace excitement, and say an enthusiastic YES to new plans and directions facing your nonprofit.
- Acknowledge the past. Whether it’s an old board stepping aside for fresh members, a new CEO unrolling marketing plans, or donor relations unveiling a campaign to court gifts and grants, it’s okay to acknowledge that things may not have worked out in the past. Don’t sugar coat or feel you have to be Pollyanna. Everyone makes mistakes. Recognizing the cause of the staff’s apathy goes a long way to fixing it.
- Share the information widely within the organization. Make sure that everyone knows the plan and understands their part in it, no matter how small.
- Secure buy-in for organization-wide plans from all senior leads. Nonprofit financial management leaders should be on board as should communications, donor relations, human resources, operations, and all other team leaders.
- Remind everyone of the need for change and that the status quo is no longer an option. Change only occurs when people are motivated to move beyond their comfort zone. People can get comfortable even when things aren’t going well; they get comfortable complaining but remaining mired in what’s holding them back. Change can be uncomfortable. Reinforcing the need for change and the positive benefits of change from the top down in the organization is a vital step for successfully re-igniting your nonprofit.
Change isn’t easy. When employees have a ‘been there, we’ve done that’ attitude, it’s important to be the leader they need and inject your energy and enthusiasm into the plans and programs. If doing what you’ve always done keeps getting you the same results, it’s time for a change. Nonprofit financial management personnel can be the leaders for positive change.
Beck & Company
Beck & Company is an independent certified accounting firm specializing in nonprofit organizations. Since 1987, we have helped many nonprofits in the Washington D.C. area and along the Eastern seaboard with their accounting and financial management needs. We provide audit, tax, accounting, and consulting service that addresses all aspects of a small to mid-sized nonprofit organization’s business. Contact us or call 703-834-0776 x8001.