Does your nonprofit meet your community’s needs?

Does your nonprofit meet your community’s needs?
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As 2019 – and the decade – comes to a close take a moment to ask the critical questions.

We all believe in what we are doing. We believe in the mission and vision of the organizations we lead and are associated with. We have contributed to strategic planning and fundraising. We give of our time, talent and resources. We know we are making an impact.

The above is all well and good, but is it good enough? Is the health of your organization the most important aspect of your work? What if you are not meeting a community need – is organizational health still critical?

We suggest that you take time to truly consider the extent to which your organization is meeting community needs. A starting point is checking your understanding of community need against today’s realities. If your organization has a long history, you may find that your hearts are in the right place, but that critical needs have shifted, and new needs have emerged. It may be that your mission and vision have become outdated. Changes in our culture, economy and demographics are constant and who is in need may not be who you think it is. Simply consider this: our “generations” now extend beyond Gen X. In fact, Gen Xers are now grandparents! If you are a Boomer, you are older than you think. The world around us is changing. The tools and research for identifying needs and the methods or strategies for meeting those needs are continuously being updated.

The following are ways to gain information to help you anticipate the future.

  1. Talk to those you serve and their family members to learn their needs from their perspective.
  2. Talk to community stakeholders and listen to their perspectives.
  3. Reach out to those you do not serve, especially those who may be marginalized in your community to learn what their needs are.
  4. Look at the work and leadership of your “competitors” and collaborators.
  5. Talk to professionals and civic leaders with knowledge of projected development and investments that may change demographics and economic conditions.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are the mission and goals of your organization still appropriate? Are they clear and specific? Do they need to be updated?
  2. What is the demand for your services? How does “demand” tie to the services you offer?
  3. Does your organization contribute to duplication of services?
  4. What does the path ahead look like, and who can you invite to join in your work and service?
  5. To what extent do you and your organization value diversity, and how is this reflected in services, advocacy, leadership, and funding?

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the coming year, take time to bring your team together to ask the hard questions. No matter what your answers, if you are honest, you will have signposts that will guide your work in the approaching decade.

 

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