Nonprofits would benefit from thinking small…and thinking big

One of the things we saw with 48in48’s inaugural Atlanta event last year was the difficulty that some nonprofits had with getting ready for their new website to be built. A few even reached out to us the week of the event and said they didn’t think they could “manage” a new website because they were so busy with their current day-to-day responsibilities.

On that note, we were able to share that the new websites would actually be easier to maintain than their old sites, and that we would train them so they’d be efficient at it. But the message came in loud and clear: nonprofits are almost always understaffed and overworked.

Because of this, they often find it difficult to lift their heads up and see the proverbial forest through the trees.

I wrote about this on my blog recently as it applies to startups, in the post The most successful startups think extremely big and extremely small.

When you’re barely making ends meet, it can be very difficult to raise your head up and think long-term. I had the opportunity to run a board retreat recently for a nonprofit.  My focus was to get them to think big, remember why the organization was started in the first place and, then, think about how today’s decisions can help them move closer to that goal instead of simply thinking about making it from day to day.

This can be a difficult process to go through, and I think it comes down to prioritization. Many times small companies (nonprofits or otherwise) can get stuck doing things a certain way simply because that’s how it was always done. Or, that’s something we’ve always had in our process.

My advice would be to regroup at the beginning of each quarter and assess what work was done over the previous 90 days and why. Then, think about the big vision you have for your nonprofit and decide if there are things on that list that aren’t moving you closer to the vision, but are simply giving the feeling of progress. My expectation is that if you do this, you’ll find you have things that can be eliminated, creating more time to focus on the really impactful work that you could otherwise be doing.