What IF? Preparing for the Future

Do you know what the future will hold? How do you plan for future opportunities and challenges that may not be known and might not materialize? A waste of time, or important work?


What IfWhile no one can predict the future, we can prepare for potential opportunities and challenges. Taking time with board members, volunteers, staff, and community leaders can help your organization consider future possibilities. Some changes are likely, others unknown. Think about what data you may need to review to help you understand potential changes in demographics, economics, government programs, law, policy, the arts, the environment… There’s a lot to consider. You can’t think of everything, but you can build future thinking into the life of your organization.

Here are three things to consider that might happen in the future. Take a moment to review and consider discussing the impact of one (or more) with your board and leadership.

Change in executive leadership. Your executive director announces that she will be leaving your organization at the end of the month. She is willing to do everything to make the transition as easy as possible, but she must leave for non-negotiable family reasons.

Potential major grant. A local or national funder approaches your organization to learn more about your work. This funder is preparing to make large, multi-year targeted investments in a few organizations and yours is under consideration.

Economic downturn. The economy changes again and the country is faced with another economic downturn. Returns on investments decrease and the need for services increases. Funding priorities for some individual donors and foundations change: some increase their giving, others change how they give and what they give to.

Consider how the future event under discussion could affect each of the following.

Business plan. What adjustments would you need to make? Who would make them? How would they be implemented?

Board. What role would the board play? Would they need to meet more frequently? What decisions and actions might they need to take?

Programs. How would your programs be impacted? Would they change, increase, decrease? Would you be serving different people? How would you expand or contract? What would be required of staff and volunteers?

Funding. What could be the potential impacts? What if a larger percentage of the budget became restricted? What if matching grants were required? Are there issues of equity to consider?

Sustainability. What processes can your organization develop or continue that focus on organizational health, meeting community needs, identifying and growing leadership, increasing knowledge, strengthening technology, and increasing transparency and accountability?

Fundraising. Are the current processes, systems and people you have in place the right ones for the future? Who will you need to cultivate as donors, supporters and solicitors? Will you need to diversity your fundraising? If yes, in what ways?

Think about what other changes could arise and create your own discussion questions. Take the time to plan for future opportunities and challenges?


Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw want you to think about the future. The only thing that’s constant is change.  Visit us at www.saadandshaw.com.

Images courtesy of 123RF.com.

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