Welcome to the maiden voyage of ZUP 4 Nonprofits. Like their counterparts in the private sector, nonprofit executives are increasingly busy, sophisticated and engaged in managing growing organizations. Vibrant nonprofits, like business, have to keep their sights on the horizon for emerging trends, storm warnings and the occasional tsunami. Yes, you even have to keep an eye on that “upstart” new nonprofit coming up from behind you in that new speedboat. The vital services provided by nonprofits are often a lifeboat to the constituencies they serve, so keeping abreast of the external operating environment as well as internal factors is critical.
In case you’re wondering about all the boating/water verbiage, take a look at my header graphic. Nice calm water? Yes. Also capable of giving you hypothermia in 3 minutes…even though the air is 100 degrees. Fabulous place (see photo at right). Smooth water float trip the family took in Page, AZ this summer, down part of the Colorado. No rapids, but things aren’t always as smooth as they seem. Between the rocks just under the water and frigid temp, you have to know what you are doing. Remind you of your recent “smooth” operations at your nonprofit? ‘Nuff said.
Generally, I’ve found nonprofits have to operate in a more transparent way then their business counterparts (although that is changing, as private sector stockholders demand more accountability). This need for transparency combined with the already tight budget (and dare I say, competition for funds?) creates a situation I call a “triage” budget—throw funding at what really needs it first, with no time to think about the future impact.
In the past, that affected the quality of things like technology implementation. Still, it tends to affect (to differing degrees) areas that are seen as noncritical: board development, non-mandated staff training, and use of web 2.0 media.
Next up: Do U YouTube?