Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seize the Opportunities of Challenging Times

There is certainly a lot of doom and gloom these days. Even with mainstream news reporting a turn by the end of this year. It just doesn’t seem real. People aren’t feeling it, or perhaps just not believing it. The challenges are, after all, undeniable.

Yet, I submit there are always challenging times. Even in boom times, people struggle. Organizations are forced to make tough choices about who stays on the payroll, what programs might need to be cut. In the best of times, there are still those without. And, nonprofits know that very well. Nonprofits see and serve it. In fact, the third sector often sees it more clearly than any other. And, in these times, nonprofits must find new ways.

Thankfully, these challenging times also offer opportunities. Opportunities for organizations willing to stretch. Willing to get a little curious. Willing to take an honest and candid look at how they do business and what they are truly intended to impact and achieve.

I’ve had the good fortune over my career to work with and in some pretty incredible organizations, across all sectors and of all sizes, during not-so-good times and when things were humming along just fine.

What I’ve observed is that during the not-so-good times, the organizations that focus on their intended impact, that focus on the people who make that impact and focus on finding a new way – these organizations emerge stronger.

They refocus and they recharge. They prepare themselves for a new way. Not without making tough choices, but they move forward knowing that in the challenging times there are opportunities to make positive changes – to make tough choices rather than reveling in the luxury of avoiding them for one more year.

Thus, it makes now a great time for nonprofits to re-connect with their missions. To take a good hard look at whether or not it still makes sense. To have deep constructive conversations about the future. And, to embrace (or create) the opportunities to make it happen. Thinking of it in a new way: not as things you have to do, but as things you get to do.
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