Nonprofits have played an important role in who I have become as a professional. In following my passion to serve, I have been a co-founder of grassroots organizations, a volunteer, a board member several times over, an executive director and fundraiser, planning and development team member, capital campaigner, and program manager. All of these roles in the nonprofit business sector were challenging, frustrating, exhilarating and rewarding.
From this perspective, when I began to read The Nimble Nonprofit, it brought up lots of emotion. I clearly remember the feelings of frustration when board members would tie up beneficial work out of fear of the unknown. I also remember the joy of producing programs where people participated and results were off the charts! Some things happened over time, like honey dripping in Alaska’s winter. Other things happened in a flash, when the time was right and the moment was perfect.
One of the first things stated in The Nimble Nonprofit is that nonprofits are businesses. This is something I’ve stated again and again, and any nonprofit in this economy is doomed if it doesn’t act like a business. Having a source (or multiple sources) of revenue, outside of grant funding, is essential! Understanding that flexible planning is a must, and leadership on the board and staff of any nonprofit is what keeps it alive and moving forward.
Where The Nimble Nonprofit really gets it right is in stating the obvious but often unheeded, technology is essential, staff training is essential and transparency is a good thing. Nonprofits have an opportunity to provide not only their products and services to a hungry community, but to serve as leaders in an uncertain world. Creating teams that serve the mission of the nonprofit and their target audience, while also providing the community with leadership and support creates a bond of loyalty and trust. This goes a long way in sharing stories, celebrating successes and facing unforeseen challenges.
Reading The Nimble Nonprofit has given me hope. Authors Jacob Smith and Trey Beck understand the nonprofit world and write from experience. It is a breath of fresh air through an open window, clearly focused on the realities of nonprofits in the midst of change. It is easy to recommend it, and suggest several copies be purchased as gifts for board members, staff and community partners who may benefit from the wisdom inside. There are no easy solutions for the issues facing nonprofits today, yet when change is acknowledged and faced honestly, moving forward is easier for everyone.