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September 25, 2020

12 ways to disrupt your organization

It’s no secret that the current economic climate is making things even tougher for nonprofits to fundraise and stay relevant. Smart nonprofit leaders realize this isn’t a time for business as usual, but rather a time to be clever, be strategic and shake things up.

The Forbes Nonprofit Council, an invitation-only organization for chief executives in successful nonprofit organizations, recently asked its members their tips on how to “disrupt” an organization and create positive change. Here were some of their responses:


1. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

All too often we are so entrenched in our daily tasks and routines that we fail to see trends and opportunities. Take time to step out of your normal role and seek alternative information that correlates with your team’s goals. For example,  a nonprofit CEO recently learned of a new source of donors by following the tips provided by a national site selection consultant.

— Ripley Tate, Web Fire Communications, Inc.


2. Build Up Your Virtual Workforce

While nonprofits often sacrifice staff support to program dollars, the addition of virtual assistants can provide competitive, cost-effective advantages, especially during times of crisis. These advantages can include focused hours, contracted support versus full-time employees, no need to advertise, etc. Building a virtual workforce or adding virtual assistants to current staff is a strategy where value will be realized quickly.

— Victoria Burkhart, The More Than Giving Company


3. Consider What Your Competitors Would Do

Consider what a competing nonprofit would do to cultivate, attract and capture your donors and sponsors. Do that. It is important to maintain momentum and velocity, but it is also essential to look at components of operations and development that can leave your nonprofit vulnerable. Stay informed, know what is trending and have a strong vision. The risk will take care of itself.

—Aaron Alejandro, Texas FFA Foundation


4. Identify A Current Need You Can Fill

Look at a current need and how your organization can fill that need quickly. During this health crisis, many organizations began making masks. At my organization, we had the capacity to manage packaging and shipping of personal protective equipment. This is a larger-scale endeavor that required adding onto the warehouse, but the long-term growth opportunities are well worth the investment.

 — Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.


5. Let Go Of Underperforming Projects

Sometimes the only way to have the resources to fund those disruptive opportunities is to be willing to let go of projects that are no longer performing. Yes, you may end up with a dip in revenue for the short term. However, if you use all that time and effort you currently spend on a stagnant program to build something better, you will make up the loss and grow much more rapidly as a whole.

— Clark Sweat, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals


6. Listen To Your Community

What do you know about the leading indicators in the community you seek to serve? What are your observations telling you about what you know or don't know? If you can keep your eye on the edge of the horizon and listen closely to your community, the places for change will reveal themselves.

— KellyAnn Romanych, Veterans Legal Institute


7. Embrace Your Core Values

Establish learning, innovation and growth as core organizational values. Encourage your staff and customers to bring forth potentially disruptive ideas they believe can lead to growth and sustainability. Establish a council of stakeholders who meet regularly to vet the cost, risk and reward of new ideas. Share the results of the vetting and move decisively on the ideas that have growth potential.

— Christopher Washington, Franklin University


8. Lean Into Your Challenges

One of the best ways to find disruptive opportunities as a nonprofit leader is to lean into situations you find frustrating and in which no clear solution seems visible. Bring the challenge—and the opportunity—to your team to explore ways your nonprofit organization might be uniquely positioned to fill the need.

— Jamie Aten, Humanitarian Disaster Institute


9. Invest In Your Network

Investing in and growing your network is a useful strategy for anyone, especially nonprofit leaders. By constantly fostering relationships, you support others while simultaneously building an arsenal of support for your organization. While seeking ways to grow your network, you will likely discover a disruptive opportunity and leverage your knowledge to invest in that new idea.

— Carrie Rich, The Global Good Fund


10. Learn From Organizations Outside Your Industry

Take a lesson from organizations completely different from your own. Look at one of their products or business processes and consider how it might work inside your nonprofit. What technology might enable it? What is the latest academic research on the topic? Have your team submit their five best ideas individually (without collaboration) and then let them team up to build a prototype on paper.

— Tammy McLeod, Flinn Foundation


11. Take Advantage Of This Universal Adjustment Period

Nonprofits are having to make major adjustments in the current climate. That might mean finding new ways to serve constituents or moving operations completely online. Since everyone is having to adjust, people will be more forgiving of growing pains and hiccups during this time. Use that to your advantage and refine how your nonprofit works. Use this time to implement new ideas and efficiencies.

Jessica Reeves, consultant


12. Explore New, Mission-Relevant Tactics

Many nonprofits face the challenge of fundraising. One way to boost donations is to explore new tactics related to your mission. For example, if an organization feeds the poor, it could broaden its mission to advance pre-K education or another initiative related to fighting poverty. This would create an opportunity to generate awareness for the nonprofit and its mission while raising incremental funds.

— William Sisson, World Business Council for Sustainable Development North America (WBCSD North America)


Read the original post at forbes.com.