PMA Consulting, LLC

Nonprofit Focus: Two Things to Consider for 2017

By: Patton McDowell

Patton McDowell

While the traditional challenge of fund development remains on the forefront for most nonprofits, PMA has seen two other issues create strategic opportunities for many organizations as well.

Talent Strategy. Turnover of key personnel is certainly challenging for most nonprofits, and it’s not just the fundraising positions. Classic search processes are not necessarily successful in mining for talent in a relatively limited pool. Do you take a chance on a local nonprofit professional who’s moved through three organizations in six years? How about the rising star who exudes confidence? Can you risk an out-of-town resume who interviews well? “Talent strategy” for most nonprofits is a reactionary process fueled by desperation to get a position filled quickly. Real talent strategy needs to become a priority.

What do we mean?  Best practice nonprofits are doing three things in the area of Talent Strategy:

  1. Assessing their “functional“ org charts instead of current personnel. Maybe you shouldn’t hire the same job description that just departed!
  2. Evaluating non-traditional candidates who can be cross-trained, and bring skill and experience when blended carefully.
  3. Designing tailored professional development programs to assure your employees don’t leave in the first place!

Board Engagement. We’re still seeing too many boards struggling to find their individual and collective comfort level. In an effort to “make a difference”, board leaders often resort to micromanaging and simply setting (unrealistic) expectations based more on their corporate environment versus the reality of the nonprofit’s staff and resource capacity.

What do we mean? Best practice nonprofits are doing three things in the area of Board Engagement:

  1. Assuring a true planning process occurs each year. Everyone should be involved in an honest and realistic appraisal of priorities for the year ahead.
  2. Focusing on financial literacy. Not just a set of reports, but a clear and coherent financial analysis of revenues and expenses that allows every board member to participate.
  3. Recruiting year-round. The fact is that you have some board members who are not suited for the role you currently need. What are you doing to systematically identify, recruit, and onboard new members?

As New Year’s resolutions approach for your organization, consider how you’ll approach both Talent, Strategy and Board Engagement in 2017.  Let me know how we can help!